Category Archives: Animals

My Cas

In his Jar of Dirt

I had to say goodbye to my cat, Castiel today. My heart is a little bit more broken. When he showed up in my backyard 5 years ago, he wouldn’t let me get within 15 feet of him. Now, there’s an empty place on my porch where he should be. He hated being inside, being locked in small spaces. The one and only time I ever got him in a cat carrier prior to today was when it was going to be -50 with windchill a few winters ago. He cried nonstop until I let him out and didn’t come home but to eat, and only when I wasn’t there, for three days after that. Today, I put him in a carrier with barely a meow. Other people picked him up and prodded him and he didn’t even wiggle let alone try to get away. But truly, I knew on Wednesday what the outcome would be, even if I didn’t know why.

As it turns out, my beautiful boy was really really sick and has been for probably his whole life.

He’d lost a lot of weight too fast, he was pale, lethargic, not terribly interested in eating, and we’re pretty sure he was mostly deaf and blind at the end but we don’t know for sure. The vet did some blood work and instead of a nice round 29-48, my baby’s hematocrit was 3. It’s a miracle he made it home to me at all. I’m so glad he did. It’s so so much worse not knowing. It’s so much worse looking at every little furry body on the side of the road, every circle of buzzards or crows, and wondering. I’ve done that before too. I did what was best for him and held him as he passed.

My Cas

I don’t know how old he was or where he came from. I know he’d been through some horrible things, just given how he responded to people. I know he preferred eating the birds and giving me the mice and moles. I know he knew how much I love him. And I know how much he loved me too. I know he didn’t want to go but he was scared and hurting. He fought hard to get home. I’m just glad I was able to give him a home for as long as we did.

I’ll miss him a lot. ❤



Filed under Animals

2016 in Review

It’s been a year. Which is probably the best thing that can be said for it. Sure, there have been some ups but overall, there’s a shadow over this year for me that just won’t let the light shine down on it.

Like many people, I lost several of my idols this year. I went through a bit of a downswing early in the year with my depression and that had some slightly more lasting effects than usual. There were some upheavals with my career, my house, and some stresses in the family that are likely mostly par for the course, maybe. We lost our OldDog who was a good dog and maybe the smartest dog I’ve ever known.

But there were good things too.

Eldercynne Rising came out. I love this universe and am so glad I get to play in it – the Arachwie are by far my favorite of my created peoples, even more so than the Jaffine.

I got my Alfred. I am a cat person. I am not a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals but dogs are not really my cuppa. We’ve always had dogs because my husband and children are definitely dog people. I am an Alfred people. I’ve never had dog that I really really adored until now. I don’t even mind that he smells like dog! No one has ever been happier to see me in my life – and I’m including my children.

I’ve lost 50 pounds (thanks, Pokemon Go and MyFitnessPal). An old friend reminded me that people can be totally awesome for no reason whatsoever (thanks, Becky – you are awesome and totally made my kid’s Christmas!). My kids have been doing great in school and everything. Several times this year, I’ve managed to people without making an ass of myself. I have only had three little panic attacks this ENTIRE year and none of them were debilitating enough to do much more than give me a headache.

All right, so there was maybe more good than bad, or at least, bigger good than bad. It just feels like there has been so much loss this year. This Christmas was harder for me than usual. Everything has made me think of my mother and how much she would have enjoyed my children. I don’t have words to properly explain it. I blame Brad Garrett and his singing Frankenstein’s Monster because that’s where all my weepy started this year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Anxiety, kids, Life

Day Two

I managed to make it through day two and I’ve learned a few things. First, this story could actually be good and it might even end up actually being the genre I want it to be. Second, puppies are a lot of work and there’s a little part of me that might actually be a little glad we’re done having babies. Third, I am not just Queen of my Geekdom but Queen of the Suckers also.

Under Mama's desk is a good place to hide from the big dog and nap.

Under Mama’s desk is a good place to hide from the big dog and nap.

Mojo is adjusting to Alfred but he’s very pushy. Alfred wants to be touching me all the time and is very upset that I won’t just hold him. His answer is to use me to hide from Drooly McDroolerson. He gets some peace to sleep where he is also touching me.

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, today hasn’t been stellar, no record breakers here and probably not in this year’s future, but I’m getting there. I’m at the very least enjoying the journey. I did manage a few words past the minimum for the day but not by much. I’m really used to being a great deal farther along but, I’ll get there.

I’m not getting as much done around the house as I should be but that has as much to do with the not housebroken puppy as it does with the writing. Even when I do manage to get stuff done, I can’t do it by myself!

Overall though, I think everyone is adjusting. My cat, Cas, is less interested in the puppy than in his belly rubs and Alfred is still a little skittish about the whole idea but they’ll work it out. Interestingly enough, I have yet to hear Alfred bark. Mojo barks at people, buses, cars, anything he wants to yell at. Alfred as been very quiet thus far. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Time to do dishes is also time to warm up Mama's feet!

Time to do dishes is also time to warm up Mama’s feet!

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Writing

Alfred and NaNoWriMo

New Puppy in the Wagner House

New Puppy in the Wagner House

This year is my slowest start to a NaNoWriMo book in all the years I’ve been participating. But I have a really good reason. Today was the start of NaNo, yes, but in my house, it was also PuppyDay!

We’ve gone back and forth a few times since Champ died about when the right time was, what the right dog was, but I’m pretty sure we got it right. His name is Alfred. He and Mojo are getting along but there’s a great deal of drooling on the part of RedDog which is a little annoying but in a week or so it will settle out and Mojo won’t be so lonely anymore. I hope they become good friends.

We’ve had him for less than 4 hours and everyone is already smitten. Seriously, how can you not be? Look at that face! So far he likes my lap but I’m pretty sure that’s because I’ve got all the pudge so I’m softer and squishy. I’m a sucker for a baby – all babies – and this little guy already has us all wrapped around his paw.

I’m still going to win NaNoWriMo – The Crow Queen is at just over 1700 words today. It may take me a little longer than usual because I really don’t see many (if any) 8000 word days in my future with a new puppy in the house.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Writing

Old Dog :(

Champ sleeping in his younger days (2010)

Champ sleeping in his younger days (2010)

For 15 years, Old Dog has been a good dog. He wasn’t always old but he was mostly always good.

We’ve known this was coming for a long time. He was able to stay with us far longer than we expected but it was time to say goodbye. We’ll always remember our Champ.

The kids are dealing pretty well – better than I am, certainly. Red Dog is going to take a while to adjust but I think he knew it was coming too. We had extra time we weren’t expecting to get – a few months – but that doesn’t make saying goodbye easier at all.

We tried hard to be busy today, to do normal things – we were supposed to have a yard sale – but I should have known better. I’m not good at being personable on a good day and today is not a good day. The weather gets it – torrential downpour that stopped the minute Older Child and I had everything cleaned up.  It’s been that kind of day, that kind of summer, and that kind of year. No year is without good points but damn if this year doesn’t seem to be full of terrible no good very bad moments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Life

Old dogs and toddlers are pretty much the same

Old Dog

Old Dog

This is Champ. Champ is 15. He is my Old Dog and I love him but at the moment, he’s one of the most frustrating animals I’ve ever met in my life. He has taken to following me everywhere – even when it isn’t around the time I give him the meds for his arthritis. I trip over him pretty much every time I turn around. He is deteriorating a bit with age, which is to be expected.  He’s going deaf, getting rickety, and definitely getting senile.

This evening, I had to go down into the basement to flip the laundry and I never thought about closing the door behind me – Champ has been very reluctant to do stairs when he doesn’t have to since his arthritis really flared up. I started back up the stairs with laundry basket in hand and lo and behold, Old Dog is stuck on the stairs – butt sitting on the second step down, legs not working properly and growling and grumping all over the place.

What’s a mama with her hands full to do? I called for the Oldest Boy who got a treat to try and entice Old Dog to at least try to turn around but alas, back legs apparently just won’t do that. I hand the laundry over the dog to the boy and pick up half of Old Dog (thank goodness his front legs are good!). Once he was back on the landing, he got his land-legs back and didn’t have any more trouble than usual (for which I was quite grateful).

I don’t know how much longer we’ll have the Old Dog for but I’d like to keep him painfree and safe while we do so no more open stairs for him. I do wish I could figured out how to get him to quit following me for ten non-sleeping minutes because I worry about him hurting himself and I would really like to cook without worrying about falling over him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals

Dino Day # 8

image: Gabriel Lio

image: Gabriel Lio

I’ve chosen another relatively new dinosaur this week, the Chilesaurus. It’s been called a ‘platypus’ dinosaur because of the combination of characteristics that comprise it. It is the T-Rex’s smaller, vegetarian cousin. Discovered in Chile in 2004, the Chilesaurus is a therapod like the T-Rex and Raptors. It had the characteristic short arms but it lacked the wicked claws, instead bearing two stumpy fingers on each hand.

The Chilesaurus lived in the late Jurassic period about 145 million years ago in South America. It likely measured around 10 1/2 feet from nose to the tip of the tail which is smaller than you would think as that tail likely took up a great deal of that length. To me, I think that would basically be like a bipedal Komodo Dragon who happened to go vegetarian. In dinosaur terms, it was pretty small but in modern terms, that small is still pretty large.

The Chilesaurus is considered an excellent example of convergent evolution which is an incredibly interesting topic all on it’s own.

Convergent Evolution: when particular traits evolve in more than one species or in more than one place in response to external conditions. For example, the three species of freshwater dolphin in India, China, and the Amazon, who are not related by DNA. They all evolved into freshwater dolphins independently of one another. In the reptile world, we have Tegus and Monitor lizards who are not related but resemble each other in a multitude of ways, diet, habitat, overall structure.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Dinosaur of the Week

New Additions

My house is full of critters. It’s been more full at various times and I know that a lot of people have problems with the kind of animals that tend to find their way here. To each his own and I’m not saying some of them don’t make me nervous but I don’t see why others have so many problems with my furless fur babies.

Right now we’ve got a lab mix, a vizsla, two bearded dragons, a jungle carpet python, a cat who refuses to come inside, two stick bugs, a baby ball python, and a baby timor monitor. The last three on the list are very recent editions. We got the bugs because our local pet store is the bees knees. The ball python and the monitor were acquired from a reptile show.

I love monitor lizards. We’ve had savannah monitors with varying degrees of success but I was very hesitant to handle them. Partly because our big one we got as a subadult and he made me a little nervous. Then I was pregnant and not touching any lizards and then I had a baby etc etc etc. But I based an entire race of people in my novel Guardian of the Gods on monitor lizards. They have big personalities and can be, if they are handled well and often, dog-tame. This timor is part of the family but mostly my responsibility.

Help me name my new friend!

Help me name my new friend!

I really don’t know the gender – it is terribly difficult to tell with a Timor without hurting them – but I’m calling her a girl. She doesn’t have a name yet because I have too many things. She’s too timid to be an Arilan (my lizard girl) or a Leeloo. I can’t use Ripley or Lucy as they’re in use by people (and animals) I know and love. She doesn’t strike me as a Newt or Motoko. And I’ve pretty much used the entire pantheon of celtic gods and goddesses for other animals. She’s so skittish I’m not comfortable holding her outside of her tank just yet. She’s fast, small, and whippy and I don’t want her getting loose.

Help me name my new friend!

She’s really pretty and this picture is a bad picture. Her pattern is lovely and underpinned with a soft orange color. She’s also in the process of beginning what is probably her first real shed and that’s a very good sign as it means she’s eating. It can be a bit of a crap shoot at a show but I’m so happy!

I came close to coming home with a different reptile. I was really considering a nile monitor. She was alert, pretty, the people selling her had video of her eating. If not for the fact that they get SO big, I’d have a nile. My timor will stay pretty small by comparison.

The reptile show (Pittsburgh Reptile Show and Sale) was bigger than I’d expected and pretty well orchestrated. It was busier than I expected too. I guess for every five people who get all squicked out by snakes, there’s one who loves them. I might not LOVE them but I’ve lived with them long enough not to really be afraid of them either. My husband once had a Jungle Carpet Python who was Houdini reincarnated – she got out on a regular basis, usually at night, to end up under MY pillow. I discovered this one night when she decided to check out my books and started climbing the shelf beside my head and I woke Rob up to get her and he informed me that this was not an isolated incident.



1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Convention

Hummingbirds and Harry Potter

I’m going back and forth today between the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family and my hummingbird feeder. These things don’t seem connected in the slightest and they aren’t.

I get emotional when my favorite characters in books and movies die. Overly so? Maybe. For most of my life, my closest friends were made of paper and film. It’s easier to be close to people who don’t really exist. Much easier than making connections with flesh and blood people who can hurt you, whose disappearance from your life can leave you empty. At least on paper and film, they’re never really gone – you can rewatch or reread a book whenever you like and there they are, whole again.

I get a little weepy when certain characters die. Sometimes a lot weepy (with Spock most especially). I get a little weepy when certain series come to a close for good. My kids laugh at me and the hubster teases me a bit. It is how I’ve always been, probably how I’ve always been.

The characters don’t even have to be people. When the Enterprise gets hurt, when Baby (Metallicar) gets hurt, a certain snowy owl, and a horse in a swamp… my heart breaks over and over every time.

It’s probably a good thing I haven’t lost very many flesh and blood people who are really close to me.

I think I want to end on a happier note here so have a picture of my cat, Castiel in his jar of dirt (apparently, I should have named him Jack).


1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Books, Memories, Movies

Have a little Mojo

I’m feeling a bit lazy today (and have a whole lot to do!) so have a little Mojo.

2014-03-07 09.54.57

Mojo is my Vizsla pup that sleeps like he’s a swan, is afraid of fireworks and thunder, and smells like cornchips. Most people think I’ve lost it when I say that, but it really is so.




Leave a comment

Filed under Animals