A New Year

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.

Here are some things, in no particular order, that have been going on in my life and keeping me busy:

Xerxes: He had a minor operation on his left eyelid in November, to correct an entropion (a condition where a few of his eyelashes constantly poked into his eye, causing perpetual irritation–like having an eyelash in your eye, forever). The operation was a complete success. The worst part, for X, was having to wear a plastic cone around his neck for six days to prevent him from scratching at the three little stitches in his eyelid. He coped with it well and uncomplainingly, but the day the cone came off was a happy, happy day. Now he has stopped squinting and looks at the world with wide-open blue eyes.

Xerxes Redux: Everyone who has ever looked after Xerxes when Zach and I are away says he seems miserable alone. We thought he might like a companion cat. Our neighbors had a wonderful small neutered male cat with polite, quiet manners–very like Xerxes–for which they were trying to find a home. We took this extremely lovable, black-and-white sweetheart in and gave him the name Alexander. There was no open fighting, and the two guys shared a litter box without conflict, so we thought it was going to work. But as time went on Xerxes grew increasingly jealous and insecure and unhappy, no matter how much we tried to reassure him. When Xerxes, always famed for his bunnylike mildness of temper, turned aggressive, we decided that it wasn’t working and sadly returned Alexander to his owners (but I have a second-string plan: my mom might decide to take him, and if so I will ferry him to her in Florida).

Florida: Zach and I went to my mother’s place in Florida for a week over Christmas. Horrible place, Florida (though her house is very nice). We did, however, manage to take a long walk almost every day in the nature preserve near her home, and once we saw a river otter and a coyote. Overall the visit was more tiring than most, and we returned home just before New Year’s feeling that we needed a vacation.

New Year’s: We didn’t do anything special for New Year’s Eve, which has never loomed very large on either of our horizons. We watched some TV, drank a bottle of decent pinot noir, and went to bed around 11. But on New Year’s Day we went to a large and delightfully boisterous open house at the home of some friends, and then on to a dinner party as guests of some other friends. Zach and I reflected on how lucky we are in our friends.

Writing: I’m almost caught up on the 2007 books. I should have the mss. of the last three of them off to my publisher by the end of this month. I’m ready to start on my Human Evolution series, which is the first of the new work projects for 2008. On the fiction front, I have finally started seriously making notes for BS, getting ready to rewite that novel. But just recently I got hijacked by a scene that is totally unconnected with my time-travel series. I can’t quite reconstruct what sparked it, but it blossomed into a “what next?” question. Setting and premise and, above all, main character have all taken shape in my imagination. The thing is becoming a story, or rather a short novel. I’ve written the first paragraph but swear I won’t write another word, no matter how much fun it would be to play with the scenes I have clearly in mind, until I have an outline. I should review my Taos notes to keep me on track with that.

Travel: Two days ago my best friend Fred and I decided to make a short trip to Berlin this winter to go to the opera. (Fred’s been to Berlin three times and loves the city; I’ve never been there.) Never one to waste time, Fred leaped into action and got us tix on the nonstop from Portland to Frankfurt. For my part, I got us tix for The Magic Flute at the Staatsoper, the old East German state opera, and for Meistersinger at the Deutsche Oper. We fly to Berlin on January 30 (arriving on the morning of Jan 31) and return February 4. Are we nuts to schedule a midwinter getaway to a city that will be colder–possibly a lot colder–and darker than Portland? Hell yeah, but I think it will be fun. I must, however, buy a hat of some sort before we go. I don’t feel like freezing my ears off, and I don’t much feel like wearing a ski cap around downtown Berlin. What do people wear on their heads, anyway? I am so not a hat person. But a departure date is good motivation to finish that overdue work.