Dr. Watson

As most of you know, I lost my sweet Mrs. Hudson at the end of January. She was older than the hills, on full-time medication, and finally reached the point where we knew it was time to let her go.

I held her while she got the shot, we buried her on our back property with a big white stone over her grave, and I swore that was it. We were done with cats, we had a puppy now, and no cat could ever replace Mrs. Hudson. To be honest, I was afraid of never finding another cat with a personality I liked as much as hers.

Six days later, I caved.

A cat brings something into a house, guys. It fills a hole. I kept thinking I saw her dart past my feet, or heard her meowing outside at night. It nearly drove me bonkers.

So, six days after she died, on a complete whim, we went to visit the humane society.

Just to look.

Pro-tip, if you ever go to the humane society just to look, you’re not going to just look. I can promise you that.

They only had two cats when we came in, which kind of shocked me. When I picked up Mrs. Hudson, there were probably thirty cats waiting to be adopted. This time, nothing but empty cages. One had a tortoise-shell female who was labeled an ‘overstimulated’ cat (a cat who will play or enjoy petting, but will quickly become overstimulated and bite or scratch.) Obviously, not a cat for us.

And . . . there was Dr. Watson.

They had a label for him too. Shy, anxious, going to need lots of time to adjust to his new home. Since Mrs. Hudson was the same way, I figured he was perfect. I know how to deal with shy cats.

I’m very shy myself, you know.

So . . . after a lot of agonizing, we brought him home. He spent the first two weeks hiding in our closet with a nasty bout of a kitty cold he picked up at the kennel. We saw him only at night, when, promptly at nine o’clock, he came to join us in bed and sneeze in our faces while we slept.

Snuggling is always mandatory, even with a cold.

Since then, he’s come out of his shell, gotten rid of the sniffles, and become the perfect addition to our little family. He gets along famously with our puppy—who is delighted to have a cat that finally is young enough to want to play—is quiet and mannerly, and always up for a good cuddle. Even if he is already three, I’m pretty sure he’s actually Mrs. Hudson on another of her nine lives, back to reclaim her queendom and boss us around for another ten years. I still miss her terribly, but am relieved to have another cat in the house.

Every writer needs a cat, right?

Have you ever welcomed a new animal after the loss of a beloved older pet? What was your experience like? Tell me about it in the comments!

Saying Goodbye

We said goodbye to Mrs. Hudson yesterday.


She was sixteen years old, which is pretty elderly for a cat. She’s been my old lady since I brought her home seven years ago, creeping around the house, hiding in my towel cupboard, and catching the mice that tried to invade my home. She drooled when she purred, shed all over the entire house, and hated every single other cat that I tried to bring home—including the three week old kittens my sister found by the side of the road.


I’m utterly devastated.


I don’t know if animal soul mates are a thing, but she was mine. I’ve never met an animal who so completely matched my personality before. She was introverted, crotchety, picky, and—when she felt like it—overly needy, which, if you know me, is basically my entire personality. But she was also incredibly loving, loyal, gentle, and always seemed to know when I was crying on the couch and needed a friend. I’m pretty sure we were the same person, and I don’t think I’ll ever find another cat who was so completely suited to me. In fact, I very much doubt I’ll ever try.


We buried her in the woods behind our house, with a big chunk of white stone over her grave, and my sister is fairly convinced that she’s going to come back and haunt my house for the rest of forever.


I’m hoping she does. She would make a very gentle, very loving ghost.


So, here’s to Mrs. Hudson. She was not my housekeeper . . . but she was my very special friend. And I’ll miss her.

Breaking Ground

To celebrate 2022 arriving, I would like to take a moment to stop and appreciate the craziest purchase I made in 2021.

Weird, right?

Don’t worry.

It gets weirder.

Know why? In 2021, my husband and I bought . . . an aircraft hanger.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Intrigued?

So was I.

What happened was this. The day—and I kid you not, the exact day—I packed up my desk and left my full time job to start my own business in March, my husband and I met my sister and her husband at a local sushi restaurant to celebrate my nerve-racking transition into self-employment.

We were going to talk and laugh and eat sushi and pretend I wasn’t terrified about the idea of running my own business and setting my own hours.

Instead, we decided to buy an aircraft hanger.

Decisions get made in sushi restaurants, guys. It happens.

Obviously, my sister and I do not own a plane. I can’t even make a decent paper plane. But . . . we both needed a house. And my dad had a contact in the metal building industry who had an aircraft hanger he’d built for a client. The client had changed his mind, and our contact was now offering us the building . . . for a massive discount. Turns out, with a few minor tweaks, an aircraft hanger makes for a pretty nice house—one that will fit two growing families quite easily.

Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go before the pile of metal struts and beams becomes a house we can live in, but I’m feeling optimistic. The last parts for the metal building have finally been delivered, and a few weeks ago, we broke ground on our property, so we actually have a place to put this house.

When it’s actually built, anyway.

Needless to say, buying a home just as I was transitioning into a business owner has been a huge stretch for me. I like to make my huge life transitions one at a time, thank you very much, and navigating both of these monuments at the same time has been a lesson in faith, especially when it comes to finances.

But I am learning to trust.

So . . . now we own an aircraft hanger.


Do you have any huge milestones in 2021 that you felt stretched you to the limits? Tell me about them in the comments!

Finding Rhythm

Guys.

I think my life is settling into something that semi-resembles . . . normality.

How do I deal with this? What do I do? Nothing has been normal for the last . . . let me think . . . three months? Give or take?

Man, planning a wedding will take it out of you. My entire life isn’t composed of a huge to-do list that grows longer with every passing day.

I’m not sure how to handle it.

Actually, getting back into a routine again has been a huge blessing. I am finally finding my feet again after all the wedding/honeymoon craze, and instead of having a boyfriend who swings by a couple of nights a week, I have a husband who heads off to work in the morning and arrives home again at night.

Can I just say? Best. Feeling. Ever. I was so sick of him having to leave every night.

But now that something resembling normal has returned and life is continuing on, a few things have cropped up that were . . . a little neglected while I was wedding planning.

Such as my personal writing, my health and well-being, and the state of my home.

Little things like that tend to catch you out if you don’t pay attention to them regularly enough.

Suffice to say, I have been doing lots of decluttering. And rearranging. And rapid writing as I try to fit in 500 words between the time when I stop work at three and my husband arrives home at five.

Which was all great! Until my health and well-being came knocking to remind me that if I didn’t put some effort into that side of my life, I was going to regret it. Badly.

Basically, I hit Friday afternoon a few weeks back and had to take sick time to finish my 40 hours because my back decided it no longer appreciated lounging on the couch with my computer. And come to find out, it’s very hard to be a successful creative when you’re in pain. Yep, I’ve gotten lazy about how I sit. At the office, I have a standing desk. At home, I . . . slump over my counter or curl up like a cat on my couch.

Not so good for the spine.

So, since returning to the office on a regular basis is still iffy, my husband and I went shopping for an ergonomically correct desk chair for me to use at our kitchen table. So I don’t end up hunched over and crooked because I work all the time.

It took three stores to find one I liked.

That was a long day.

But! I have a home office! My laptop has a stand to keep it at eye level, I have a desk chair and a rock salt lamp, and I’ve finally started taking breaks while I write to stretch and walk and get outside for a few minutes.

Shockingly, that has made a huge difference with my productivity. Who knew?

Basically, I’m finding my rhythm again. I’m remembering to take walks and breathe deeply and drink tea and feed the chickadees on my porch. The deer have another salt block, and the bluejays and squirrels have their corn. My writing has been dragged out of the dust, and I’m actually reading books again.

Life is returning to normal.

What are a few key things in your life that keep you in rhythm? Tell me about them in the comments!

Potstickers and Pasta Dough

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I’m on a dough shtick.

Pasta dough, mostly.

With a few dumplings thrown in.

Okay, what are those things actually called? Dumplings? Potstickers? Momos? I have like ten different names for them in my head and everyone calls them something different and every time I say a name, I’m wrong.

As you can tell, it has been frustrating me.

We’re going to go with dumplings.

Basically, they are small pockets of dough filled with tasty meat and steamed.

Dumplings.

And for dumplings, you need dough.

Or, you know . . . knead dough.

Haha.

Sorry.

So I’ve been kneading dough lately. On my weekends. Because it’s my favorite thing. My most favorite man bought me a totally awesome pasta rack to dry my pasta on. Not bragging, but he’s my most favorite. So, on Sunday, we stuck in a couple of movies—because making dumplings and pasta on the same day takes a long, long, long time—and I made dumpling dough. And pasta dough. And dumpling filling.

I’m not going to lie, half of the dumpling dough got wrapped up and stuck in the freezer after we ran out of filling. Because Sundays only have so many hours.

But I managed to finish the pasta off—thank goodness—and the drying rack worked like a charm. No more sticky pasta lumps! Yay!

So now my freezer is full of dried pasta and all the dumplings we didn’t immediately cook up and devour.

Which was not very many.

Basically, I have enough to snack on until next weekend—when I will be making more potstickers. Or dumplings. Or whatever you want to call them.

I’m perfecting my technique, see. Which means lots of practice. Trial and error, in which you eat all the evidence in order to keep other people from knowing about your mistakes in folding and rolling the dough.

Not a bad system, to tell the truth.

Someone enlighten me! What is the proper name for these dumplings/potstickers/momos/whatever they’re called? Have you made them? Tell me about it in the comments!

Mermaids

I saw a mermaid this weekend.

Actually two.

Real live actual mermaids.

Okay, not actual. But definitely real live mermaids.

Okay, it was two actresses wearing costumes and taking pictures with the kids at the Denver Aquarium. But you were not there, so technically, you can’t prove that they weren’t real live actual mermaids. And since I didn’t actually get close enough to get a good look at their tails, I can’t technically prove they weren’t real live actual mermaids.

So they might have been.

Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed by this time, my sister and I took a trip to the Denver Aquarium this weekend.

We saw a lot of fish.

Since we also ate lunch in the aquarium restaurant, we also ate a lot of fish, but we decided not to tell the other fish. Although . . . I think this one may have suspected something. He looks a little suspicious.

I also found out that my sister is the stingray whisperer. The aquarium has a touch tank for stingrays, and usually, they swim by the people and ignore them.

However . . . my sister stuck her hand in the water and they came running.

Er—swimming.

Something.

I don’t know if they thought she had food or is she just smells good or what, but they loved her and tried to eat her hand and her arm and maybe the rest of her. I think if we ever get stranded in the ocean together, I may swim about ten feet from her because she is apparently very attractive to sea life and I’m not totally sure that won’t extend to sharks and monsters.

 

Not that we’re likely to get stranded at sea. But still. Something to keep in mind for future adventures.

As I mentioned, we also had lunch in the aquarium restaurant, and guys—I had lunch with the fishes. Like, they had a tank inside the restaurant. A huge one. And since they were feeding the fish at the same time we were having lunch, we had lunch with the fish.

It was great.

I certainly didn’t expect it to be as crowded in the aquarium as it was, but despite a little trouble with parking and a long line outside the building, we had a blast. We are slowly attempting to get more acquainted with the beautiful state we live in, and our trip this weekend was definitely a step forward.

Do you have any aquarium adventures—or pictures—to share? Tell me about them in the comments!

Adulthood is a Myth

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My sister sent me an awesome birthday gift this week.

A Sarah’s Scribbles 2020 calendar entitled Adulthood is a Myth.

I felt that one to my soul.

Not only was it strange to remember that next year is 2020, but the calendar also has the added advantage of making me laugh at myself. Because adulthood is a myth. And I love it.

This last week was all about adulting for me. Getting up early when I didn’t want to, plowing through meetings and checking tasks off my to-do list, procrastinating on my writing and having to scramble to make up for it later.

You know. The kinds of things we all do.

Also, my tire went flat on Friday night. At work. I may or may not have changed it while still in a skirt.

Actually, forget that. I totally changed it while still in a skirt. Because I am an adult and that’s what an adult does when they’re off work and have a whole weekend ahead of them only to find they have to start said weekend off with a flat tire.

My work clothes ended up looking a little worse for wear.

See, my spare tire is caked in dust. Because I live on a dirt road. And I never wash my car.

Arguably my own fault, but there it is.

A very sweet older man offered to help me. I told him I was fine and that I could handle it. While trying to turn one of my lug nuts the wrong way.

In my defense, he startled me and I was flustered. So I can’t be responsible for my actions.

I think the poor man was worried I was crazy. He sat in his car for an uncomfortably long time waiting to see if I would finish. I would have let him help, only I was already halfway done and the rest was reasonably easy. No point in two of us getting covered in road dust just because I never wash my car.

In the end, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Since I always have my jack in the car and a spare, it’s easily fixed and done with. And I’m no stranger to having to fix my tires myself. One does, you know, when one has no boyfriend/husband to do such things. But Friday night—and most of the week—really showed me how easy it is to finish a day, arrive home, and . . . have nothing left for writing. No time, no energy, no creativity.

It’s amazing how quickly it happens. Sometimes, as a writer with a full-time job, good intentions just aren’t enough. Things have to be cut out in order to give oneself the time that’s needed.

Since I’m still deciding exactly what things are going to be cut out, I will get back to you on what I eventually do. But don’t be surprised if I suddenly drop off the planet for a month or two. I’m not saying that socializing will be the first thing I cut out to give myself the time I need. Of course not. That would be silly.

It may end up being the second thing, however.

How do you make sure you have time for the important things in your life? Tell me about it in the comments!

Birthday Adventures

I have a surprise for you all.

Today is my birthday!

Woohooo! Balloons and party hats and kazoos and cake!

Not really. Actually, I have to go to work today, and my birthday weekend is already over. But I am a quarter-of-a-century-old today, and I felt the need to announce it.

So. There you are. I was born today.

Since I am an adult and adults still have to go to work on their birthdays, today won’t be extra spectacular or very different from my normal schedule. But! I had the whole weekend to celebrate, and my sister and I went adventuring. We house-sat for a friend, ate almost an entire carton of ice-cream, watched Zumbo’s Just Desserts, made shrimp scampi, and the next morning escaped the house to go hiking.

We were going to hike the Incline. (One of Colorado’s more extreme hiking trails. About a mile of stairs and sweat and hell.) But at the last moment, we bailed and went to Helen Hunt Falls instead. The trails there are a little tamer.

Okay, a lot tamer.

We lost our nerve.

But! We had a great time playing in the stream, taking pictures, and hiking the not-hellish trails. Since it is July, we found a couple of patches of very tiny raspberries. Like, enough to have maybe five each. We decided on our hike that if you were to get lost in Colorado and needed to live off the land, you would most likely starve. Colorado isn’t known for its bounty. I don’t think we saw so much as a squirrel.

But we did have raspberries. And just so you know, wild raspberries are the best.

Especially when you’re hiking in the mountains.

After the hiking adventures, we met the rest of my family for sushi at my absolute favorite restaurant ever. My mom made us wear funny hats. I am not going to show you pictures of that one. Thankfully, since we were celebrating my birthday, my dad’s birthday, and my sister’s engagement, I wasn’t the only one who had to wear the hat.

Always good to have a few people with whom to share strange experiences.

This year has been a whirl of very different experiences and new directions. None of the things that I expected to happen came about, and the best parts of this year have been entirely unexpected. I am still finding my feet in a job I never expected to have, making friends in places I never expected to be, and thanking God that his plans are so, so much better than mine. He always seems to know so much better than I do where I’ll be happy and where I’ll thrive.

This year, I am so thankful for the unexpected.

What are some things in your lives that have taken you by surprise? Tell me about it in the comments!

Weekend Adventurers

My best friend in the whole entire world is finally home.

She was gone for a long time.

I missed her.

But now that she’s finally home and back in our beautiful tiny cabin, it has created a rather conflicting dilemma for me. A ‘I really want to hang out with you but I work 40 hours a week and also use all my spare time to write’ kind of dilemma.

Exhausting.

But, in the three weeks since I started my job, we have come up with a compromise.

So now, we are weekend adventurers.

Okay, Sunday adventurers. Because I write all day Saturday if I can possibly manage it. But! Sunday is our day off, and we have learned to use it to the best of our ability. Yesterday, that meant church, lunch at Chipotle, a whacking huge dark chocolate ice cream with gummy bears—yes, I said gummy bears—and raspberries at Cold Stone Creamery, and a drive/hike through Garden of the Gods.

It was exciting.

Mostly because we very nearly ran out of gas.

Like, coasting on fumes, man. Life on the edge.

We didn’t have much time to hike because it was hotter than the Sahara desert and so crowded that there were literally herds of people blocking the paths. Like, real herds. It was crazy.

So we snapped a few pictures and took off. Instead, we spent the afternoon at Glen Eyrie, in the cool under the trees and outside the bookstore.

It was lovely.

Now that we’ve started this weekly excursion, we are determined to keep it going. Next week, we are going hiking in the mountains, and we have a list of places we want to see this summer. IKEA (because IKEA is the BEST), the Denver aquarium (because fish are amazing), the zoo (mostly for the ducks and maybe to pet a skunk), and camping, too, if we get up the nerve.

I’m not much of a camper. But it’s worth a shot!

Having a regular, 40 hour a week job is a new experience for me, and one loaded with possibilities. Now that my schedule is set—instead of scattered and spontaneous in the extreme—I can plan a few small trips around Colorado and have some of the adventures I’ve been thinking about.

So, definitely stay tuned. There will be pictures of giant fish on this blog someday soon. Like . . . sharks. And maybe an octopus.

You have been warned.

What are some of the adventures that you have ventured on recently? Tell me about them in the comments! I’d love ideas and suggestions!

Surprise!

My sister is finally, finally home, after traveling about like a crazy adventure woman for six months.

I am so happy she’s here.

Don’t get me wrong, living alone is lovely. The house is quiet, I have my own space, and—and that’s the only plus sides I can come up with right now.

Now that my sister is home, I have someone to read with in the evening, someone to bounce ideas off of when I’m in a creative mood, someone who makes dinner when I am at work and has it ready when I come home, someone to grocery shop for, since grocery shopping for one person is no fun at all . . . 

Basically, I have about a thousand reasons to rejoice that she is finally home and isn’t planning to leave again for—some amount of time. Hopefully not in the near future. But we’ll see. World travelers sometimes don’t stay in one spot very long.

Now that she is here, I can tell you the secret I have been saving up since the beginning of May! Or was it April . . . or . . . never mind, it doesn’t matter.

Ta-da!

I painted my house!

As you can no doubt guess, it was badly in need of it, and this was my welcome home surprise for her. Thus the reason I didn’t post about it.

I started painting sometime around the middle of I-Don’t-Remember-Maybe-April when I was waiting for news after several job interviews.

So, yes, I was stress painting.

I got the first coat finished with the help of some semi-enthusiastic siblings and then . . . I got sick. So things paused for a few weeks while I laid around on my couch in a cold-medicine induced stupor and watched episodes of Winnie-The-Pooh on Youtube to keep my stress levels from crashing through the roof. Because obviously, I couldn’t stress paint anymore.

You do what you gotta do.

But eventually—after a very long wait—my cold got better and I was able to finish the second coat. Now that my beautiful tiny cabin is no longer an awkward shade of pink, it has turned into a sort of secluded hermitage. (For those of you who are extroverts, I just want to clarify that this is a good thing.) The green and brown blends into the trees, and when you’re driving up the road, you’d have to know just where to look to notice that there is a house hidden away up here after all.

Which, as a secluded sort of hermit, is just right for me.

Also, my sister loved it. So all my stress painting ended up all right.

Have you been working on any home improvement projects this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!