I don’t want to alarm anyone in Norfolk, but there’s some sort of creature hanging out on the Swamp Trail in the Barbour Woods.
This creature enjoys splashing and swimming. Every so often, she jumps out of the swamp and shakes off her coat all over innocent bystanders.
If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to see her. Be forewarned: encounters with this creature result in moments of pure joy and lots of smiling. I mean, honestly! Just look at those ears!
It moments like these that I hold onto because the narcolepsy continues. Of course I’m still sleepy.
Today, however, I am also hopeful.
When I spoke with my sleep doctor last week, we agreed to try a medicine that worked wonders for me for seven years. Overtime, its effectiveness diminished and the side effects became more pronounced. I’m hoping because I haven’t taken this medicine since 2015 that my body and brain will have completely reset itself.
Now, the challenge is getting the medicine. It’s only available at one pharmacy in the country and there’s a lot of paperwork and verification that needs to happen first. So far, I’ve had to email the pharmaceutical company a copy of my marriage certificate and license since the last time I took the medicine I had a different name ,and then on Friday I received notice I have to fill out a new enrollment application.
So, I wait.
In the meantime, Norfolk is on the brink of being a cornucopia of fall foliage. Now’s the time to get outside and enjoy it. Even better, bring a dog!
I’ve never met a dog who’s not also an excellent heart surgeon. That’s right – heart surgeon.
Every time I meet a new dog, they manage to slice and dice my heart until there’s room for them, too. Having never taken an anatomy class, I have no idea how these dogs keep doing it. Maybe they keep adding additions?
Yet somehow there is always room for another dog in my heart, and the dogs I’m already hopelessly and completely in love with (here’s looking at you Annie, Dodger, and Fergus) wag their tails and high five each other to welcome that new dog to the pack.
Everyone, have you met Hailey?
Hailey is the sweetie pie rescue dog who lives below our Norfolk apartment. I’ve known her for well over a year now. She can be shy at first, and I never thought I would truly make inroads with her. But then her human mom had to unexpectedly leave town for a few days. I AM IN LOVE!
I think it’s obvious why:
What a goober!
Hailey entered into a deep depression when her mom left. This separation was the first time they had been apart like this, ever. It took several days for her to warm up to me. After those few days, when Hailey began to trust me and liked all the treats I’d been giving her, she started running to the door when I unlocked it. She wiggled her butt and wagged her tail and a few times even jumped up at the door before I opened it.
I visited Hailey for eight days before her mom came back. Even though I’ve been having a lot of narcolepsy troubles lately, those were eight days with moments of doggone good love and joy. Those moments matter a lot to me when I’m struggling with sleep.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment of my time with Hailey, but if I had to, I would pick the times when I’m getting ready to leave their house and I hide a handful of small biscuits in Hailey’s toy box. As you can imagine, Hailey is absolutely adorable rooting around in a wicker box filled with stuffed ducks, bears, and cats.
I am so grateful that people trust me with their dogs. I can’t imagine my life without them.
Also, just for fun, here are two other dogs I met recently.
Maggie is a poodle and cavalier king Charles spaniel mix. I met her in downtown Hartford when I was supporting my author friend Lynn Katz at Books on Pratt. If you’re interested in a psychological thriller with some dark and twisty turns, check out her book The Surrogate. I’ll also be chatting with Lynn on October 7 when the Norfolk Library hosts a virtual author talk with her. If interested, you can register here: http://www.norfolklibrary.org/events/virtual-author-talk-with-lynn-katz/
Then there’s Wilson. Wilson is a basset hound! I never knew a basset hound could be a solid color. I thought he was a basset mixed with a dachshund. Also, yesterday was his birthday! He’s a jolly eight years old.
I wonder how many dogs I’m going to meet this week? I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’m confident they’ll figure out what to do with my heart when the time comes.
Today my blog turns five years old and I turn 44 years old. I remember when my dad turned 40 and we gave him a pin that read 40 isn’t old if you’re a tree. Since I’m a fan of trees and upon my death I would like to be turned into a tree, I accept that I am not old. For the record, I hope my death isn’t at least for 44 more years (God and Kelly willing).
Most importantly, I don’t feel old. And I think that’s what matters most.
One of the true highlights of my day was seeing the artists’ list for the August exhibit of Norfolk Artists & Friends that’s opening at the Library today. When I arrived at work on Thursday, I was delighted to see this painting:
That looks like Annie, I thought.
Well, sure enough. The painting is titled “Annie Rose Smells a Flower,” by Susannah Anderson.
It delights me that I know Annie so well I can spot her in an acrylic paining.
It really is the little things in life that bring the most joy.
Other little things that have been bringing me joy lately:
The little chipmunk living under the front porch.
The blue heron who keeps visiting the driveway
Meeting new dogs (that’s Hobbes in the front and Legend in the back). I met them at Cornwall’s Library’s outstanding Puppies Behind Bars presentation.
Teeny tiny frogs!
Fergus visiting my office at the Norfolk Library.
Getting hugs from my friend, Dotty.
And last, but not least, is watching my kalanchoe plant grow. Heath gave me this plant for our 5-year wedding anniversary in February. It seems to be doing quite well!
My birthday wish for anyone reading this blog post is that you find little things in your day that bring you joy.
My dad’s decline started slowly a few years ago and then sped up quickly. He went into the hospital in June 2020 and died a little over a month later.
Smudge’s death happened with no warning whatsoever. I wasn’t even there to see him one last time as I was still in Pennsylvania with my family. One of the greatest regrets of my life is that I didn’t stop by to visit Smudge before I left Norfolk in July so I could be in Harrisburg with my dad. I’ve written about this regret before, and I don’t want to write about it again other than to say that almost a year has gone by and the sadness still cuts into my heart with as much pain as it did on July 23, 2021.
Deep breath … moving on. Only because I have to.
When it comes to the whole dog versus cat debate, I’m solidly Team Dog. I have nothing against cats. I like them, in general. I love some cats, specifically.
On Friday I whiled away some time scrolling through Instagram. One of the local groups I follow is Little Guild, an animal rescue organization located in Cornwell, CT. I saw Bertha’s little face with the caption that she is now the Guild’s longest resident at around 150 days. My heart broke into 150 pieces when I read that information.
Unfortunately, at that moment, I accidentally sent the Little Guild a laughing emoji in an attempt to “swipe up” so I could learn more information. Mortified, I then immediately sent them an apology direct message explaining that I wanted to read more about Bertha and I didn’t mean to laugh at their post.
As I’m in no position to adopt a cat, I thought I would share her here in case someone else is. She’s a senior cat at 10 years old. What I love most about her is how she looks like two cats in one. If you’re on Instagram, you can watch videos of her flopping around and meowing. Warning – she’ll steal your heart.
Here’s the description of her on their website:
Domestic Short Hair / Mixed (short coat)
Female (spayed), 10 yrs
Bertha is an affectionate and laid-back lady. She loves being pet and once she starts purring she doesn’t stop! She will roll from side to side to show you how happy and grateful she is to be getting your attention. Bertha is a quirky little girl who has been a total sweetheart from the minute we met her. She always seems to make us laugh, especially when she eats her dinner while still laying on her side! This pretty and sweet girl can’t wait to be somebody’s new best friend.
Approximate Weight: 11 lbs
Estimated DOB: 2/1/2011
Good with Cats: No
I have no idea if positing about Bertha on my blog will make a difference. I can only hope it does. I’d like to think my dad would be rooting for Bertha, too. Pretty sure Smudge wouldn’t, though. I’m okay with that.
Ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming. Yes, it’s true. We are officially more than halfway through 2021.
Since my brain can’t seem to wrap around how fast time is moving, I decided to distract myself by creating some patriotic pups.
This is Indie! She’s a young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Heath and I both had the opportunity to babysit for her recently. But since Heath is 100% smitten with her, I magnanimously offered to step out of the way so the two of them could be together.
Say hello to Zelda! She’s an old-timey Bedlington terrier. I recently got to take care of her and her baby sister, Sadie. This is the second time I had the privilege of taking care of Zelda. The first time was over four years ago, well before she had a baby sister. I remember enjoying the experience, as Zelda is as sweet as 4th of July apple pie.
Sadie, however, made this time quite different as she is a HUMONGOUS goofball. She reminded me so much of my beloved Smudge, I simultaneously wanted to laugh and cry. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.
Next, we have Fergus. Wednesday at work I heard some jingling outside my office door. In flew Fergus! His human mom had brought him to the library and one of my colleagues/friends brought him up the stairs to visit me. Wednesday was the last day of the extremely hot temperatures we were having (think close to 100 with the heat index). Since the library is nice and cool with our abundant AC (not common in the NW corner of CT), Fergus’ mom wanted to get some work done in a cool and relaxing environment. I asked if I could take Fergus upstairs with me. For the rest of the afternoon, Fergus sat on my desk intermittently napping and watching the world go by on Rt. 44.
Annie is clearly a 4-star dog! Even when she’s muddy. I think that adds to her charm. I recently had the opportunity to babysit Annie overnight. Is anyone surprised to learn she’s a bed hog?
Last but not least, we have Yankee Doodle Dodger.
If you’re thinking that Dodger looks different, well…There was an incident at the groomers where “summer cut” meant one thing to us and something else to the person grooming him. I can’t believe how small a dog Dodger actually is. I’d been calling him “Pork Chop Dodger” all winter and it became clear I needed to apologize once I saw his true size. Dodger forgave me (mostly) and he seems to have (mostly) recovered from being shaven. The humans have yet to recover.
I hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July! And remember — we only have six months left in 2021. Let’s make them good ones!
This past weekend, Heath and I drove almost 1000 miles in less than 60 hours. We headed out of Norfolk on Friday morning in separate cars – me in our newly leased Nissan Murano, complete with heated seats, panoramic sunroof, and front, side, and rear sonar systems, and Heath in our 2005 Altima which doesn’t even have door handles anymore because they all broke off due to our freezing Norfolk winters.
The two cars were necessary because we would be giving the Altima to Heath’s dad. We don’t need it anymore, and he has the skills and knowledge to keep a 2005 car running smoothly for several more years to come.
So, we agreed to meet Heath’s parents halfway-ish between Norfolk (CT, where we live) and Murfreesboro (TN, where they live). Heath selected Harrisonburg, VA, as our meeting point.
Harrisonburg just happens to be in an extremely lush and mountainous region of the country. The Monongahela National Forest sits to the left of it and Shenandoah National Park sits to the right. We were fully prepared to make the trip down and back in just two days because I now work Sunday afternoons at the Norfolk Library.
About 30 minutes into the drive home on Saturday morning, we suspected we might need a Plan B. We had stopped so many times in those 30 minutes, that we had barely gone three miles. It’s easy to linger among the Blue Ridge Mountains. Heath wanted to stop at particularly beautiful places to take pictures with his new camera.
We both wanted to drive for a bit on the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. We also wanted time to stop wherever we wanted, like this free little library.
Marvelous finds like this little library are exactly why we love road trips so much.
Heath left the Plan B decision up to me. We knew we had the option of stopping at my mom’s house in Harrisburg, PA, spending the night there, and then driving to Norfolk on Sunday morning. This option appealed to us as Harrisburg is only 3 hours from Harrisonburg, as opposed to the 7.5-hour drive to get us back to Norfolk. Plus, we would get to spend some more time with my mom since we had only stopped for a quick lunch there on Friday afternoon.
But I felt anxious about having to be at work on time on Sunday. I imagined future Kelly and Heath driving to Norfolk on Sunday morning. What would it be like if we got stuck in traffic? Or if there was an accident? That level of anxiety not knowing if I would make it to work on time would be psychologically painful for me.
My boss at the Norfolk Library then did something incredibly generous – she offered to cover my first hour or so at the Library. Just in case! I am grateful every day for my job at the library. This kindness is just one more reason why I love working there.
With a little more wiggle room with when I had to be back, we decided to have a more leisurely drive to Harrisburg, spend the night with my mom, and then hit the road around 6:30 this morning. Almost immediately after making that decision, Heath took a right and we headed towards a flea market high in the mountains.
There were NRA and Make America Great Again hats and signs for sale at this flea market. As I walked around the market, I felt acutely uncomfortable wearing my Sandy Hook Promise pin on my fleece sweater. I wear this pin often as a commitment to do all I can to eradicate gun violence in schools. I was afraid someone would ask me about it. I once met someone who denied the Sandy Hook massacre took place and I didn’t want to end up in that situation again. I also didn’t want to take the pin off because that didn’t feel right, either. I feel sad that this is what our country has devolved into.
This picture is not at the flea market, but it’s the only one I had from the afternoon where you can see my pin.
Thankfully, nothing happened, and Heath and I continued on our way. We ended up stopping at Arrowhead Lake a short while later. I’ll just let you marvel over this picture:
I also spotted the weirdest looking waterfowl I’ve ever seen.
Seriously, though, that’s a dog named Harley. His human mom and brother were kayaking, and Harley kept running around the perimeter of the lake, jumping in every so often to chase the ducks and geese, with his mom yelling at him to, “leave the baby ducks alone!” Labradors!
We stopped one more time after Lake Arrowhead; this time in Front Royal, VA for lunch. The lunch was okay, but the town itself was great. I especially liked the artwork on the side of this building:
After Front Royal, we drove on to Harrisburg, and then did exactly as we planned: we spent the night at my mom’s house and then headed off to Norfolk at 6:30am. Special shout out to Heath who took over driving around 9:00am since I was struggling to stay awake.
We made it to Norfolk by noon, where I then made a quick salad of spinach and chicken for lunch, gobbled it up, and made it to the Library right on time!
What a great weekend – adventure, mountains, family, a dog, and making it to work on time, all with my favorite person in the world. I’m already looking forward to our next road trip; although next time, I’ll make sure to request some vacation days first!
Calling all pets in Norfolk! The Norfolk Library is hosting a pet parade this Friday, June 11th at 6:30pm on the Village Green.
Yes, I made this poster using my favorite Norfolk animals. Obviously, I will not be a judge. How could I ever choose between my favorite furry friends in town?
Although I wouldn’t say Abe R. Ham the pig is necessarily furry. More like tufty and dramatic, but I supposed that’s the prerogative of a pig!
Abe R. Ham
Hammy, as he’s affectionately known, only cares about me when I give him apples and carrots. I’ve come to accept that we have this weird relationship – I give him snacks and he gives me 1.5 seconds attention. Then he’ll go rooting around the farmyard, honking and squealing as if the length of the grass and lack of crunchy leaves is somehow a personal attack on his pig-ness. Hammy would definitely win best actor in the Academy of Barnyard Dramatics.
Now that I’ve awarded Hammy a prize, I can’t leave out the other animals. Well, except for that cat. I used a stock photo from Canva, the graphic design platform I use for all my social media work at the Library.
I’m not anti-cat or anything. I simply couldn’t find any outdoor photos of my favorite Norfolk cats and I thought it was silly to include an indoor cat on a poster for an outdoor pet parade. This cat kinda sorta maybe looks like my buddy, Bracken, so that makes me think I can award the Canva Cat an Elmer Award for being Bracken’s stand-in.
If you’ve never heard of the Elmer Awards, please click here to read about the storied history of the one and only award for Hollywood stand-ins that were given in the 1930s and 40s.
Chloe, who may or may not be anti-cat depending on what her feline brother Dweezle is usually doing, is paws down Miss Norfolk Canine Beauty Queen. Her trendy silver color is all natural with her border collie merle coat and those blue and brown eyes can see right to your soul … or the hotdogs on your kitchen counter. Chloe is also known as quite a counter surfer in her household, so it’s a good thing she’s so stunning.
Next I’ll award Dodger the Sassy Britches award because even though he may have one of the sweetest faces in the history of Butterscotch Border Collies anywhere, there’s quite a bit of spice under all that fluff. Dodger, or His Royal Highness, as his other dog walker and I call him, doesn’t let a meal go by without insisting that he somehow contribute. And by “contribute” I mean that Dodger gets to sample some or all of it.
Annie wins the All Around Perfect Dog award. But I’m still not convinced Annie is a real dog. I’ve told people I’ve met in the Barbour Woods while walking her that I think she’s a divine being come to Earth in a dog costume. Just to be clear – I don’t just blurt out this assertion. I usually say it after the person interacts with Annie for approximately 3 seconds and they realize they are in the presence of someone spectacular. The Barbour Woods person is then allowed to throw Annie’s ball, if they please, and I’m pretty sure Annie does this little maneuver to give the humans extra time to fawn over how truly delightful she is until she brings the ball back and it’s time to demonstrate again how perfect she is.
Since Annie is a hard act to follow, I’ll move on to Sheldon next since he’s a goat. And since he’s a goat (i.e., a Nigerian Pygmy goat), I’ll just go ahead and give him a GOAT award so he can be a Greatest Of All Time goat. It might be premature since he’s a young goat, but I think Sheldon has a lot of potential for goatiness — I mean, just look at his ears.
That leaves us with Fergus, who wins Everything Else. This award encompasses the bite-sized perfection that is Fergus — from his scruffy, adorable face, to his adventurous attitude, and every yip, snoozle, and pensive stare out the window in between.
And did I mention that Fergus has been known to fall asleep on human heads? The day this happened, I texted Heath and told him I would never be able to move again. That moment was one of the most joyful in my whole life. All because of little Fergus.
It’s truly a wonderful life where I get to love so many pets! And to think that on this Friday I get to love all the pets that come to the Library’s pet parade, too! Probably for the best they’re not allowing me to judge. Every pet would get a prize and I suspect the judging would take all night.
If you live in the area, please feel free to join our pet parade. If you want to register your pet to participate, here’s the link: http://www.norfolklibrary.org/events/pet-parade-and-fridays-on-the-green-kick-off/
Hello Spring! Now that we’re officially one full week into spring, I’m starting to see some signs of change throughout Norfolk.
First and foremost, bulbs are starting to bloom! Here’s the first little one I saw last Tuesday when I went to take Annie for a walk.
Speaking of Annie, there is a direct, positive relationship between number of spring days elapsed and how muddy Annie gets on her walks. Here in Norfolk, spring is often referred to as mud season. These photos of Annie from our walk last week are perfect examples of why.
Even with all my struggles as of late with narcolepsy, I’m delighted to report that I *finally* finished a writing project yesterday I started in November! I say *finally* because I thought I would have it finished by January. That thinking was ridiculously optimistic, considering my sleep challenges, and essentially working full-time again. Nevertheless, I am now the proud writer of the first draft of an adult fantasy novel. It’s for adults who miss the whimsical world of Harry Potter but want more romance and comedy in our fantasy stories.
I still can’t believe I wrote a manuscript that is over 96,000 words. I first started this manuscript back in July of 2016. Heath had given me a writing prompt of the word box. I then remembered one of my colleagues at Benedictine University telling me she thought there was a portal to another dimension in her apartment because her cat kept disappearing. I put those two ideas together and started writing. About 35,000 words and several weeks later, I stopped writing. I felt frustrated at how long the writing was taking, and I felt scared that I would never be able to finish a story of that nature because even at that time I knew it would be somewhere around 90,000-100,000 words.
So, I put the manuscript aside and started working on other projects. I have since written 8 books (!!!), the longest of which is 56,000 words (which, fyi, is a relatively low word count for adult books, but more on target for middle grade and young adult, which I was mostly writing). I guess that’s what I needed to do because I finally felt like I could re-commit to this project. Plus, Heath kept asking me to finish writing it because he loved the idea and some early pages I had shown him.
I re-started the project on November 1, 2020, with the kick off of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In NaNoWriMo, you’re considered a “winner” if you write 50,000 words in 30 days. I decided to start my story from scratch, but because I already knew these characters, and where the story was going, it was relatively easy for me to get those first 50,000 words. The only day I missed writing in November was the day Faith died.
After 30 days of writing sprints, my stamina petered out a bit. I made it a goal to write at least 100 words every day, just to keep momentum going. Even though 100 words a day isn’t a lot when you’re aiming for 90,000 words, it at least kept me moving forward. And, on most days, I ended up writing a lot more than 100.
Some days, I didn’t think I’d ever make it to the finish line. But on March 27, 2021, I typed the words The End and closed my computer.
I did a victory dance around the living room, messaged Heath, and then life very quickly went back to okay, what do I do now?
At that point, it was close to bedtime so that’s what I did. For the next two weeks, I’m taking a break from writing. This blog post will be the last thing I write until April 11th. I’m kind of excited. I’ve never consciously chosen to take a break from writing like this, and I’m both terrified and relieved to give myself that kind of time.
Enjoy these early days of spring! And to those who celebrate – Have a happy Easter next week! See you in two weeks.
Today marks my least favorite day of the year. For people with narcolepsy, daylight savings can wreak all kinds of havoc on our already precarious sleep-wake cycles. If my past is any indicator of my future, It will take me weeks to recover from this loss of one hour.
Morning #1 of Daylight Savings 2021
In the meantime, I hold onto the small things in life that bring me joy. Here are two examples:
First, meet Fergus! I had the delightful privilege of caring for this little fella for a few days recently. For such a small dog, he has taken up a big space in my heart.
Second, the artwork! The Norfolk Library is known for its rotating art shows. During the pandemic, the Library featured several shows from Norfolk Artists & Friends, a community of visual artists in Norfolk. When this piece was displayed in December/January, I told the artist, Hilary VanWright, how much I loved it — the colors, the message, the exuberance. When it came time to take the show down, Hilary gave the piece to me. Just like that! She didn’t have room for it and she knew how much I appreciated it. Every day I look at this art and I feel not only gratitude, but encouragement to keep going.
Since it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, here’s another small thing that has brought me joy lately:
The president of the Norfolk Library Associates brought in shamrocks for us to give to patrons. I love coming into the kitchen every morning and seeing the bright pop of green and the lean of the flowers towards the sun.
That’s what I’ll be doing these next few weeks. As I try to work within my disabled sleep to get back on schedule, I will lean into the longer days of sunlight. I know I’ll make it through these next weeks no matter what. But it’s good to have a literal beacon of light guiding me forward.
Stay rested, my friends! And may the luck o’ the Irish be with you this week.