Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weird events around my house

I live on a corner lot and my house is fenced in on all four sides. I didn't plan it like this, the house had the fence when I moved in, but I like it. It's great for the dogs, and normally enough to keep unwanted solicitors and religious people wanting to spread the good word away from the front door.

Across the road from me lives a group of unsupervised teenagers. I think they might have an adult living there right now, but they've been alone a large part of the spring. They're sweet kids, but they're also teenagers, and from time to time strange things happen.

Like, one day when I came home to a yard filled with softballs.

For the longest time they didn't have anyone driving, so they would walk to the store, take a cart back, and leave it at my house. Annoying, and if someone dumps a cart a day outside your gate, you get a lot of them quickly.

I went to talk to the kids about it, and they were understanding.

A couple of days later, there was a stack of baskets instead.

Annoying, but also really, seriously funny!

Not so funny was the day when they played football on the road and ruined one of the rear lights on my car along with my mailbox, but that's another story.

This fine evening something else strange happened. I visited Mike in the hospital, went to the store, and came home right after eight. Here in Florida, that's late enough to be getting dark. I was preoccupied by a discussion at the hospital - they want to set up a hospice thing for him in my house and I really don't want that - so I didn't pay attention at first. I let the dogs out and put the groceries away.

When I went back outside to call the dogs, I decided to walk around the house. On a tree in the middle of the yard hung a long, white shoelace. In order to get there, someone must have jumped the fence.

Admittedly, it could have been dropped by a bird, but it was so neat.

Back home I wouldn't have paid much attention to it. I would have assumed the bird-theory was correct. After eight years in the USA, surrounded by gangs and dog fighting rings, and being fed conspiracy theories through the Internet, I'm significantly more paranoid.

And, in my defense, I'm a bit rattled after losing my Bonnie just days ago and Mike ending up in the hospital. The doctors say he's on the last stretch.

I called the dogs inside, muttering, "If you want to steal my dogs you'll have to deal with one armed and bad-ass momma," locked the door, went to get my gun, and called the Sheriff's office.

I said, "I feel like an idiot even saying this, but I have to ask... Is this a sign or something? You know, all the crap one reads on the Internet about dog thieves and such has made me paranoid."

We have the best deputies you can imagine, and none of the people I talked to laughed, even though I really felt like an idiot voicing my concern. They also knew nothing about a shoe-lace gang. We have many, many, many gangs in this city, but none is known for using shoe-laces. Haha.

I'm thinking, either it really was a bird, or the kids dared each other to enter the yard. I'll still keep an extra eye on things for a while. Just in case there are puppy-stealing, shoe-lace-wielding maniacs out there.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My princess is gone

Today was an extremely tough day for me. My Bonnie, my princess, my furry daughter and best friend is gone. 

I knew she was going to cross the Rainbow Bridge sometime soon - her congestive heart failure was getting bad - but no matter how much your brain knows something is going to happen, your heart is never prepared.

She seemed very tired yesterday, but was perkier this morning. We took a walk around the house and had breakfast - I'm very happy I let her taste everything she wanted - and then I set out to the store.

When I returned, she got up to meet me, but slowly. Then, she fell over. I feel that she waited for me to come home, to say goodbye.

In a way I'm happy that she passed at home where she felt safe and happy. That in no way makes me miss her less.

Rest in peace my Bonnie. One day I'll see you again, on the other side. Until then, know that mommy loves you. I have always loved you and I will always love you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Homesick

I have lived in the USA since 2008, and for the most part Florida agrees with me. It hasn't always been smooth sailing of course, life rarely is, but I was pretty sure I had settled down and wanted to stay.

Good Friday this year, that changed. It was as if someone flipped a switch in my head. We were talking about holidays at work and I said, "Back home, at my old job, I would have worked a half day yesterday, and Easter is a four-day holiday."

I might only be a three-day holiday now, I know we moved one paid day off to get the new national holiday on June 6th, but I can't remember which holiday we took it from. Either way, Swedes like paid holidays.

One of my colleagues said, "Wow. How do you manage that?"

As she finished the sentence I thought, "Damn, I really want to go home."

Just like that I missed everything Sweden.



I missed "fikaraster" - the Swedish coffee break that is protected by law, it's a time when people come together and chat over a cup of coffee. I missed our abundance of vacation days, being able to go to the doctor without worrying about the bill, having all these paid holidays us Swedes love so much, Swedish pizza, tasty water from the tap without chlorine and chemicals, and a million other little things.

I know many Americans will react with a knee-jerk move. "If you like it so much, you should go back."

You know what? I will. I've been thinking about it ever since Easter. I'm not sure how - moving across an ocean with pets is more complicated than it looks at first glance - but it will be my new goal.

I'm just so tired of crowds, traffic jams, people hitting me with their shopping carts in the stores, people waving their religion in my face and screaming I'll go to hell if I don't repent, hatred towards other religions, sexual preferences, colors, genders, you name it.

There are crazy people everywhere, but the average Swede doesn't care what deity you believe in, which restroom you use, or any of all that stuff that gets Americans all worked up. That is, we don't care as long as you leave us out of it. If you try to pull us into your whatever-it-might-be we will resist.

Many things aren't perfect in Sweden. I remember many things that drove me crazy when I lived there. But things aren't perfect here either.

There are a couple of things keeping me here. The husband, but seeing life in a flash of reality, he will either die or get better. Seeing that he currently weighs maybe 90 pounds and is unable to rise up on his own, the former is significantly more likely than the latter. And, there's Cat Depot. I love my job, the cats, and my colleagues. However, with the Internet, it's possible to be friends over a distance.

I'm sure the pets won't appreciate the move when it comes, they'll hate the long flight, but they'll get over it.

As much as I hate snow and being cold, I come from a land of ice and snow, and it's getting time to embrace it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What kind of music do you like?

Music is a big deal to me. It can trigger so many moods and emotions, slow down time, or speed it up. Which type of music depends on the day, but I'm generally a rock kind of girl.

In Sweden we have something called "dansbandsmusik" - I don't have a good translation for it, but I hate it. Refrains can still sneak into my mind and replay themselves at the most inappropriate moments. Weirdest thing.

Like this one. I can't stand this song, but I hear it in my head all the time.

I think my subconscious likes to torture me, hahaha!



Here in the USA, I hate country music. I think it's related to the "dansbandsmusik."

Unfortunately, one of my neighbors loves country - especially the really self-pitying kind with lots of steel guitars and violins. He likes to play it really loud outdoors. You know, to make sure he can hear it in case he goes inside and accidentally closes the door...

Jazz music makes me nervous. It's because of the drummers, they're so syncopated and think they're really cool, but I can almost feel my blood pressure rising. lol!

I also often say that I hate rap music. That turned out to not be entirely true.

Me, in the car. "I really hate rap music."

Husband, "So, why are you listening to this?"

Me, "What? Oh no, this is Mike Shinoda. He doesn't count. I love Mike Shinoda."

Husband, "Oookay."



Five minutes later.

"I thought you said you hate rap music."

"This is Prince and the New Power Generation. Doesn't count. They had melodies and stuff."



Five minutes later, I'm singing along to "Cleaning out my closet" all happy.

Husband, "Again, you say you hate rap music."

"Mm-hm. But I kind of like Eminem. At least some Eminem songs. Catchy refrains. I don't like the kind the neighbor kids play. You know, a guy talking to a bass drum."

Husband rolls his eyes.


Yeah, I'm getting old. Clearly!

What music do you like? What types of music can't you stand?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Catcalling and compliments

I ended up in an interesting discussion on Facebook. One of my friends - female - shared a blog post that included this screen dump of a tweet. My friend added the comment, "Your right to speak to me does not trump my right to feel safe."

Predictably, one if her friends - male - wrote, "You feel safe when someone says you're cute?"

That comment sums up the problem perfectly.

No one answered him, probably a wise decision, but I was in one of those moods when it's hard to shut up. I had to comment, and leaned back to see what would happen. I know no one ever changed anyone's mind on Facebook, but sometimes you just have to, lol.


By now I am well over 40. Life has stacked up more than a fair share of problems, and the mirror shows a tired woman with silver in her hair and sagging boobs. The thing is, at this point in life, I don't care. I have other things on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I was dressed up and heading out to an event at work. I was going there to work, taking photos, and I stopped in a McDonalds drive-through on the way, thinking a cup of coffee would help keep me alert.

The young man in the window smiled and said, "Are you going somewhere? Because you look very beautiful."

That was a compliment, said without thought of getting something, and it made my day. I arrived to my event smiling, because he was so nice to me.

Cat calling is something completely different. A couple of weeks before the McDonalds compliment, I went to KFC on my way home from work. 

There was a skinny man, sweaty, lacking most of his teeth. He fixed his eyes on me and said, "You wouldn't look bad if you took care of yourself."

I ignored him and another customer muttered, "Yeah, you're the one to say that."

He stepped closer. "I said, you wouldn't look bad if you took care of yourself."

Am I really supposed to be grateful for that sort of attention? 

A lot of snarky comments came to mind, but I bit them all down and just muttered, "Right."

"What? I'm not good enough for you? c**t"

At that point, the people working in the restaurant asked him to leave. It became my turn, I ordered, paid, got my stuff, and headed for the door. Through the window I could see the man leaning against the wall right outside.

As a woman, you're well aware that men are stronger than you are. Even the small ones. I'm also well aware that I'm not good at running, so if he wanted to keep pushing, I wouldn't be able to get away from him.

One of the other customers - a man - got up from his meal and said, "I'll walk you to your car."

Of course I was grateful. He was probably tired too and had no reason to help me, except for being a good person. It still struck me as sad that as a woman, even in the year 2016, I'm still dependent on the protection of men. If I don't want to argue and don't want to fight, the certain way to be left alone is to walk next to a man.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Save Samson!

When I started working at Cat Depot, a pretty white cat would greet me every morning, meowing until I entered his office. Once there, he'd sit on my lap and snuggle. Samson was my first Cat Depot crush, and I was unhappy when he was adopted. Though, I had only been there for a couple of weeks, and life went on. 

A pretty black cat in the same office took over the meowing and morning greeting, and he eventually became my cat: Koda.

I've heard many writers claim they need a cat to write. Seems to work the opposite way for me; I've rarely been so unproductive as after adopting Koda, but that's okay.

I digress. This is supposed to be about Samson.

For a couple of months after Samson's adoption, I kept my eyes on the cat database, just in case they brought him back. Nothing happened, and I assumed that everything went well. I had a nagging, unpleasant feeling, but time soothed it. After a couple of months, I stopped looking.

Imagine my surprise when one of my colleagues approached me a couple of weeks ago, saying, "Did you know that Samson is back?"

I did not know, but finding him only took a few seconds. He was in a cage in admittance, where they check the health of incoming kitties before they're ready to meet the public.

I pretend that he recognized me. He's a friendly cat who loves everyone, but I'm still pretending he recognizes me and that I'm special.

Be that as it may, Samson had developed a problem. A big problem: kidney stones.

Many forms of kidney stones in cats can be dissolved through diet. Samson's are of the kind that can't be dissolved. Of course.

He has so much kidney stones that they cause blockages and impair kidney function. I'm certainly not a vet - I'm barely qualified to put Band-Aids on humans - but it sounds like something that would hurt.

He was moved to an office, because moving around is better for him than sitting still in a cage. Probably more fun too. I offered fostering him while waiting for treatment, but our shelter vet said he's too sick. He needs to be close by so they can take samples and such.

It's kind of hard to work with that little face looking out at you. Isn't he adorable? Every morning when I come to work, he meows and meows until I go in and visit him.

Then, this happens. Cat on lap!


My friends at Cat Depot have informed me that without surgery, Samson will cross the Rainbow Bridge in not too long. Because everyone needs at least one kidney to survive. He has been to several specialists outside our own medical team, and the shelter vet is discussing with University of Florida. They are prepared to perform the life-saving procedures he needs, but estimate a cost of $5,500.

That's a lot of money.

I'm the grant person. If I can raise the money, Samson will have his surgery and live. 

If I fail, well, let's not think too much about that. Failure is not an option.

If you want to help Samson get the long and happy life he deserves, there's a donation form here. Or, maybe you would please help share him with his link. Spread the word. Together, we can save Samson.

Is one shelter cat worth saving?

Definitely.

Is Samson worth saving?

Oh yes.

This is the nicest, friendliest cat you can imagine. He greets visitors with a little meow, jumps up on their lap, and purrs, purrs, purrs with joy.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cover art for The Sorcerer

My next book will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in July. I found inspiration for it when I started working for a Germany company and researched old German castles. All the images sent my imagination into overdrive. I wouldn't have known where to start making a cover for the story, luckily, talented Gwen Phifer was on top of it. I love it!




Blurb: 

When Anne accepts a job in a German boarding school for gifted children, her main concern is surviving without California’s sunshine and beaches. She doesn’t anticipate anything more dangerous than getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Nowhere does her work description mention three men betting on who will get her into bed first, or being rescued by the reclusive math teacher David Lindeman, a man her new friends claim is evil incarnate.

The old castle houses many secrets, and as days go by Anne finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality and superstition. She becomes a reluctant participant in an ancient battle between good and evil, and to survive, she must channel a power from deep within herself she could never have imagined. Who can she trust in a world where myths become real and nothing is what it seems?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Florida doesn't do anything small

The title of this post may puzzle you if you haven't spent a lot of time in Florida. Everything here is an extreme. I needed a couple of years before I realized the extent of Florida's extremes.

If it looks like a nice, sunshiny day, odds are it's 99 F (37 C). After a while here, you start thinking that 86 F (30 C) is nice and cool.

When I grew up, my mom always emphasized the importance of being outside in the sun and enjoying sunny days. In Florida that way of thinking will get you a heatstroke and possibly skin cancer.

If it's cold, it's probably not all that cold on the thermometer, but the combination of high humidity and being used to 99F makes 45 feel like the coldest it has been anywhere. Ever.



If it rains, you think investing in a car might have been a mistake - clearly you should have bought a boat. Or, built an ark. My current workplace would be understanding if weather prevented me from appearing on time, but I have had an employer who said, "It's just a tornado."



A windy day somewhere else might be an inconvenience. A windy day in Florida will blow the roof off your house.



Plants that barely survive potted in a greenhouse in other places become trees in Florida.

Big trees.



Bugs in other places are small and can be annoying. Bugs in Florida grow to the size of small birds. Or, there's a billion of them. Not joking. A billion.

Since I'm afraid of bugs I'll do everyone a favor and not include a picture of that.

Love bug season sounds cute. It is not.

Snowbird season also sounds cute. It is not. It's hard to find crowds like tourist season in Florida.

Do you have extremes where you live? What's the worst?