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Lake Isabella, CA, United States
I am an aspiring writer in the Kern River Valley. This blog is a "test kitchen" to try different writing styles and to work through the many rejections and the handful of acceptances my work has received. But no matter what other people say about my writing, at least my mother thinks I'm a good writer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kitten update


Sippy has started playing! The first few days he was in too much shock to be interested in playing, but last night and this morning, he has been pouncing at anything that moves! Also, when I gave him a bath the first day, he hung there limply, not resisting, but when I gave him one yesterday, he was a force to be reckoned with.

These are sure signs that he is feeling much, much better. I can still feel his bones quite a bit, but not as much, and his belly is very round. He has also been pooping consistenly since yesterday. Unfortunately, he is nowhere near litter-box trained.

We have shown him the litter box, helped him scratch in the litter, made sure he can come in and out of the box easily...and he still poops in the dark corner under the desk. We have put the litter box in the dark corner under the desk...he pooped behind it this morning.

Our other two kittens understood the litter box concept almost immediately, but they were raised with big litters and humans caring for them. Who knows what this little baby's background is like?

I sure hope he learns soon, because he HATES going outside. When I carry him outside so I can keep him with me when I do my chores, his little claws dig into me, he fluffs up, and he tucks his head underneath my arm. I think he spent so much time outside when he was starving that now he is pretty frightened of it.

If he's going to be a primarily indoor cat- he has to be litter trained! Any advice? Perhaps he is still too young, and will learn soon?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A surprise in the SIPS, or How I became a crazy cat lady

As I drove home from school on Friday, I thought to myself,

"I am so relieved that all my pets have been fixed and vaccinated. We shouldn't have to pay another vet bill for a long time."

My 5 month old kitten got fixed a few weeks ago, and she has healed beautifully. It's worth the minimal cost to know that she won't get pregnant, and can run around at night without adding to the pet over-population problem.

Everyone should spay and neuter their animals unless you are a breeder, and then maybe you might need to re-think that. It's not like we have a lack of animals in the world- do you really need to contribute to it by adding more pure-bred, bug-eyed $200 chihuahua puppies that will someday sit in a shelter?

Anyway- I'll get off my soapbox now. I felt very satified as I drove home. When I walked over to the construction site to greet my husband, he said, "Sandy...there is a tiny black kitten hiding in the SIPS panels. See if you can get it out. It's been crying all day. If you go over there and meow at it, it will probably talk to you."

We live about two miles in the country out of town. Occasionally, people will choose to abandon animals near our property. Somehow they think this is better than taking them to a shelter or getting their pets fixed to avoid the problem entirely. There are coyotes, eagles, mountain lions, and bears near our property. People think they're "setting their animals free," but in reality, they are just feeding the local wildlife.

SIPS stands for Structural Insulated Panels, and they are what we are building our house out of. Currently there are seven or eight giant, blazing hot piles of these panels covered with black plastic sitting in our construction site.

I walked over to the piles and made some pathetic cat noises (I'm sure all those cat bloggers out there would be able to see right through them, but this little cat is very young.) Soon I heard some answering yowls.

It took me a while of hunting through the panels, but finally, in a far back corner, I saw two little bright eyes and a loud, crying, squaling voice. I could see the cat, and I knew it was hungry and probably dehydrated, but it wouldn't come out for food or water. I wondered if it was feral, but in any case, I knew I needed to catch to at least feed it even if it wouldn't ever be a pet.

After thirty minutes and the help of my husband and a broomstick, we gently pushed the kitten forward where we could reach him. I grabbed him, and was surprised at how little he weighed.

I could feel every bone in his little body. Ribs, hips, vertebrae...He looked like he couldn't be more than 3 or 4 weeks old.

I took him inside and gave him some cat food. I didn't have any kitten food, but he chowed down on the adult cat food. I gave him some tuna, and he lapped up the juice like crazy. Finally, he stopped eating and cried until I held him. For the last 2 days, he has wanted to sit in my lap constantly. He sits there and stares up at me for hours. His eyes are still blue, and his fur is long velvet black.

He is finally putting on a little weight. His little belly is round, like a kitten's should be, and as I write this...he is purring loudly in my lap.

Other than the hunger and dehydration (his skin still doesn't snap back quickly), he appears to be perfectly fine. He is lonely for other cats, and my two other cats, Bango and Tail-light, are unfortunately not willing to socialize with him. They are very upset.

My in-laws reminded me that I do not have to keep him. Three cats is an awful lot, after all. But this little boy is never going to an animal shelter. Ours are so full of kittens, chances are high they would either refuse to take him, or mercifully euthanize him. I can't stare into his big blue eyes and decide to abandon him.

I do plan to ask around at work this week to see if anyone wants a kitten. If someone does, and I trust and like that person, I will gladly give him away to them. But if that does not happen, which it probably won't, he has a forever home with me. We have decided to call him, "Sippy."

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Cavey Journey- end of Chapter 2


Here is the link for the picture on the left. It advertises a book I should probably check out:Help For Writer's Block by Donna Kakonge.

Here is the last section of chapter 2. I finished my rough draft about 3 years ago, and the book is now in its third stage of re-writes. It takes a lot of effort for me to work on it because I'm not sure the premise is even remotely marketable, however, as my first full-length endeavor, it's been really good for my writing ability.

So far, my queries have been rejected 10 times,and I've recieved no response about 10 times- really not much in the grand scheme of things.

Soon, I will post a few chapters from my new endeavor, a book called Marilyn Marlin. I feel better about this book, but it also has many, many rough edges, and my plot is currently stalled due to writer's block and a faulty computer.

Without further ado...the end of chapter 2!


Suddenly, there was a loud cracking noise coming from somewhere in the big house and a few seconds later, the cavies heard the sound of humans talking in gruff, angry voices.

“Hide! Hide! Hide!” yelped Macie, and, slipping and sliding on the floor, they both ran towards their towel behind the bookcase. Once they got inside, they shivered fearfully as they listened with their large round ears.

“I don’t think those are our humans,” whispered Donner to Macie through gritted teeth. “They sound…different…and scary. I don’t like how they smell, either.” As Donner and Macie listened fearfully, they heard crashing and thumping coming from beyond the door of their room.

“Hey Mike, look!” the cavies heard a human voice shout, “they left their VCR and their DVD player, that’s gotta be worth somethin’, huh?”

“Whatever you say, Jake,” answered another voice, “Let’s get this done quick.” The cavies couldn’t understand all of the words that the humans were saying, but they comprehended enough to know that both the voices they heard sounded mean and harsh. They could hear heavy things being moved around in the other rooms of the house, and it sounded as if the two men were stealing from their house.

“Hey man, these people aren’t coming back anytime soon. We can take our time looting this stuff.”

“Whatever. I’ll check the back rooms.”

Donner and Macie stood moved as far under their towel as they could and very still as they heard footsteps coming closer and closer to the room they were in. Cavies can hear incredibly well, and to their dismay, they heard the doorknob turn slowly and a man stomped into the room.

From their hiding spot under the blankets, Donner and Macie could only see two pairs of ugly black boots walking around on the wet tile. They stood rigid under their towel, trying not to breathe or attract any attention to themselves. The looters quickly walked around the room, tossing CD’s into a bag, ripping computer cords out of the walls, and boxing up the computer.

To the cavies, it seemed like the men were there forever. All Donner and Macie could do was shiver and stay as still as possible until the two men left. After a while, the cavies could no longer hear the men moving in the house, and they slowly crept out of hiding. What they saw next made them both stop and gasp.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Cavey Journey, Chapter Two, Part One

Chapter 2

What the cavies did not know was that a terrible thing had happened. Donner, Macie, and their humans lived in a little town called Lake Isabella. Lake Isabella was in a valley called the Kern River Valley, which had a beautiful blue lake in the middle of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a natural lake. It used to be a river, and about fifty years before this story (which for cavies would be during their grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-grandparent’s time) some people had decided it would be a good idea to dam up the river and turn it into a lake so the nearby city of Bakersfield could have drinking water and so that there would be lots of tourists who could come for boating and fishing on the lake.

Pretty soon, the humans got so used to the river being dammed up, that they started building houses and shops and businesses where the river used to be. They even planted crops there, because the soil was so rich and fertile. They did all these things believing that the dam would hold forever.

You have probably guessed what happened next. The dam broke. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of water came rushing out of the dirt wall of the dam. Water rushed in and flooded the whole valley. Many of the buildings that were right under the dam were completely swept away, but some of them, like Donner and Macie’s house, were only flooded.

Luckily, the people who lived in the town had known that the dam was going to break. No one found out in time to fix it, but they were able to warn all the people that lived there. Everyone was forced to evacuate, including Donner and Macie’s humans. Unfortunately, the humans were not allowed to bring their pets with them. That is why Donner and Macie were forced to leave their cage and try to find a way to survive.

For three or four days, Macie and Donner continued living on the floor near their cage. They had hay and pellets, and other than the layer of water on the cold tile, and the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, they were comfortable. They began exploring the room around them, and soon got to know the layout of the bookshelves, cabinets, windows, computer desk, and closet. They nibbled on the books, took naps throughout the day and night, lapped up the water on the ground and went to the bathroom wherever they pleased. Using their large front teeth, they pulled the towel they were living in behind a small bookcase next to the computer where they could feel more protected.

Macie was very content living on the floor of the room, but Donner was not. Macie would find him staring up at their old cage, or standing by the closed door of the room. She tried to distract him and talked about how great it was to have food and to feel safe, but he still seemed like something was bothering him. On the morning of the fourth day, while she ran around happily, he simply grunted and lay down with his head on his paws. She snuggled up to him and finally asked,

“Donner…what’s wrong? Aren’t you happy? We have everything we need.”

“Macie, we have what we need for now,” Donner grunted in response, “but the food is not going to last very long. Some of the hay is already getting moldy and the pellets will run out sooner or later. Also, I don’t know how we will get away from the water and the cold. ” 1

1. Because guinea pigs are from South America, their bodies are used to a much warmer climate, and if they get too cold or wet, they run a big risk of getting sick.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Death- Poem #100


I will post more Guinea Pig adventures next time. I thought we needed a little break from all the treacle.

My New Year's resolution this year was to write a page a day. Have I achieved that so far? Absolutely not. I did get a lot of writing done this year, but not as much as I had hoped.

One of the things that happened was my grandfather's death. Since his illness and death, I have been pre-occupied with grief and feelings of loss. Anytime I try to write...that's all that will come out. I'd rather not look at it, so I just put the pen down instead.

It's time to break out of this, but I'm just not sure how. I don't like writing dark things so often- it makes me feel morbid. It's just not my style or my personality.

I haven't chosen to share very many of my sad writings on the blog because they are so dark, and also because my family supports me by checking on the blog regularly, and they are also dealing with so much grief that I don't want to further upset them. Some things are too personal to post on the internet or even to talk about.

As usual, when I'm feeling strong emotions about something, I wrote a poem about it, which incidentally happens to be the 100th poem I have saved! That makes over 10,000 words and 53 pages worth of poems. I started writing poetry in 1998. I know I have other old poems floating around out there in old journals and things, but I haven't yet succeeded in tracking them down.


100.
How can I write when my pen is covered in death?

Not macabre, over-dramatic, glorious decay

That so many writers have profited by.

My pen is covered in loss, withering, fading, destitution.

Death, Death, Death.

It’s the only word I have to write.

I’d rather leave the page blank than write death onto the paper.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chapter One, Part Two


Here is the end of chapter one. Can you guess how many agents/publishing houses rejected my query letter and first two chapters? I will tell you at the end of chapter 2.

When the humans at the rescue found him in her cage that day, they were very surprised, but they figured it must mean that the two guinea pigs wanted to be bonded. So from that time on, they had lived together at the rescue until their new family had come to adopt them.

Donner had often daydreamed about adventures, but had never really had any reason to try and get out of his cage in their new home, until now. Their home was roof-less, and the walls were not very tall.

Slowly, cautiously, their hearts beating fast, and their tiny legs trembling, Donner and Macie peered up at the edge of the cage wall. Macie watched, as Donner finished pushing their purple-plastic house up against the wall, shoved his favorite log tunnel against the side of the house with his nose and began climbing up the tunnel to scramble to the top of the purple house. From that height, it would be easy to jump out of the cage. However, he had no idea how they would get off of the tall cabinet their cage sat on.

Now it was Macie’s turn. Her smaller size made it a little easier for her to wriggle up the side of the log tunnel, and pull herself onto the house. The cavies looked around them. They could see their cage with its soon-empty water bottles, bare feeding dishes and hay rack, the plastic tubes they loved to run in and out of, the soiled wood chips that hadn’t been changed since the humans had left, and their soft fabric chair, which they had spent hours relaxing in. The whole cage smelled like home to them, and when they raised their heads to sniff the air above and away from the cage, it smelled cold, moldy, and foreign. They peered over the edge and saw a pile of towels, food, and extra plastic tubes their owners had left on the top of the cabinet next to the outside of the cage.

“Okay, Macie, this is it. We’re going to have to jump for it. I bet we can land on those towels.” Donner squeaked.

“But…you…you didn’t say anything about j-jumping! I hate jumping. I won’t do it!”

“Macie…” Donner sighed, trying to be patient. “We don’t have a choice. We have to.”

“No! You find another way, or I won’t do it! I’m too scared!”

“Fine,” muttered Donner. “I’ll try to find another way, but this would be much easier if you would just try.” Macie looked at him silently, climbed back down the log tunnel, and crawled into their house.

Donner wandered unhappily from one end of the cage to the other, looking for a way to get out without jumping. After several hours, he popcorned 4 into the air and let out a squeak.

“I’ve got it! Macie, get out here. I’m going to need your help.”

After a few directions from Donner, the two cavies set to work. Macie began shoving their ceramic food dishes toward the purple house and once the first dish was there, she and Donner set it upside and shoved it up onto the top of the house. The dish was tall enough for Macie to simply walk over the edge of the cage. The two pigs climbed their way up and stood on top of the food dish, looking over the edge.

“Okay, Macie, I’ll go first, and when you step over, you can land on my back.” Donner explained.

Donner summoned all his courage, stepped over the edge, and landed on the pile of towels a few inches below.

Macie could see Donner through the bars, and knew he had made it safely. He called to her, “Okay, your turn, now! Climb onto my back!” Macie felt tempted to jump off the house in the other direction and run inside it instead, but she didn’t dare lose sight of Donner. She closed her eyes, drew together the small amount of courage she had, and with a whimper, she walked over the edge onto Donner’s back, climbed off of Donner, and onto the pile of towels.

“You did it, Macie! We did it!” exclaimed Donner, and they both ran around on the towels. They ran in circles, hopped in the air and nuzzled each other.
What they didn’t know is that the more they ran around, the less steady the pile of towels became. The towels were resting on top of several plastic round tunnels 5 and bags of pellets and hay. Donner and Macie’s running and jumping was causing the round tubes to roll underneath the pile of towels, pushing the bags of hay and pellets off the side of the tall cabinet.

“Donner! The towels are moving!” shrieked Macie, and down the whole pile came, tubes, towels, hay and pellets, to the floor below. The Cavies yelped and squeaked and screamed with fear, as they rode the towels down to the floor. Macie and Donner rolled forward onto their faces, hitting their noses against the hard tile floor, and landing in the thin layer of water covering it. They righted themselves and stood, wet and shivering, next to one another.

“Oh, why is it so wet? And why did we fall so far? Why did we leave the cage?!” yelped Macie. Donner was too stunned to answer and simply nuzzled closer to Macie and squealed with her. After they had recovered from their fall, they tiptoed through the inch of water that covered the ground, and looked around them. With relief, they realized that several bags of hay and pellets were on the ground close to them. This meant that they would have enough food to survive for quite some time. Macie used her sharp front teeth to chew a hole in the plastic bags and they both ate the hay and pellets until they were full.

“It feels so good to not be hungry anymore,” squealed Donner.

“Yes,” yawned Macie, “but now I am very tired.” They wandered across the wet floor to a pile of towels and nuzzled their way into a dry corner of the pile. They curled up next to each other and slept for hours.


4. When guinea pigs are happy, playing or excited, they will sometimes jump straight up into the air; this is called “popcorning”. Baby guinea pigs do this often, and it is very cute.

5. Cavies love to run in and out of tunnels. This is because guinea pigs live in dirt tunnels and holes in-between rocks.

*The image above is not actually Macie, but it is what she looked like. Photo credit goes to http://www.jackiesguineapiggies.com