Just wanted to let everyone know that I am back from my holiday vacation in southern California. Victor was an absolute angel on both the trip down and the trip up. He was rather depressed over the holidays, and I think he believed that he was once again being moved to a new house. When, after a seven-hour drive he began to recognize landmarks he started to dance in the car and once we got inside the house he tore up and down the stairs like a crazy dog. I had to take him into the backyard and throw his ball for him to help him get rid of his excess energy. He's usually so reserved that he seems all grown up, but he made it clear that he was only a puppy when he saw his old licked-to-death bunny and his bed. He now knows too many words to count and will understand and obey "Where's your bone," "Get your bunny," and "Where's Hedgy?" (One of his new favorite toys is a hedgehog which makes a disturbing noise when squeezed. He got lots of treats down in Villa Park, including many oranges which fell from trees and which he eventually threw up. He also learned how to thrash his head like a shark while pulling on a pull-toy . . . so hard that on my second to last day there, he managed to rip off my fingernail. Fortunately, the bit that came off was fake, and it will be a funny story to tell my manicurist.
I had the usual great time with my father, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, and got some beautiful decorations for the new house (NO, I am still not moved in and I don't want to hear anything more about it.) I watched lots of lively football games and extremely conservative political rhetoric with my father, worked with my sister on a manuscript she has written about her experiences with melanoma, and caught occasional glimpses of my niece and nephew. I was amazed at how warm and peaceful it was at my mother's grave site--usually violent winds blow over Christmas decorations, but this year it was remarkably still and sweet.
I hope that my readers each had a wonderful holiday, no matter what they were celebrating, and I wish them all a great 2012!
One more thing that I wanted to mention is that starting with today, January 4, 2012, all contests will be held exclusively in the Forum. Members who have been contributing, you are about to get your reward. Your posting is appreciated, and I hope you like the first contest!
Today marks the five-year anniversary of my mother’s death, and it is, as it should be, a sad day for me. But also it is at the beginning of a new year, which I take as time to look back at the previous twelve months and meditate on them. The last year has been a very good one. I have had the amazing fortune to get a sympathetic, brilliant, dynamic agent, and I’m everlastingly grateful for his insights, his tenacity, and his gentle sense of humor. I’ve made progress on my manuscripts. STRANGE FATE is coming right along, and I have completely renovated the premises for ETERNITY and BRIONWY’S LULLABY. And, perhaps best of all, I have made a new friend: one of those that you can tell will be friends for life. Who will be with you during the sad times (like now) and also during the times of triumph. Normally, this wouldn’t be anyone’s business but that of myself and my new soul-sister’s, or brother’s, but I’ve heard that there are some people who have nothing better than to try to disparage Christina’s character or to disparage mine rather than accept it. I’m afraid that anyone who has nothing better in their own lives to do than nitpick over others is a pitiful case indeed and unlikely to be swayed by the opinions of great thinkers, but I will mention that Plautus felt that “Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.” Of course there are also many quotes disparaging friendship itself; but these I will fend off with all my life’s force. I am a militant optimist. I choose to be one. I only wish I could be better and better friends with every single one of the people I meet: not just the people I meet through my website. But I will admit that the site gives me a head start because so many of the people who email me or are on the Forum are open, genuine, and willing to trust others. In any case, arguing over who is friends with whom is so childish that I find it hard to give any more time to—it reminds me too much of being in preschool. (As a matter of fact I can’t even think of a time in preschool when I did it or heard it done.) My real message is that thinking over the last year I can think of many more good times than bad times in 2011 and I have hopes that 2012 will be better than ever—for everyone.