Nightmares and Snowbirds

Dec 09, 2016

​Yesterday was a day of deep contentment for me, but today I’m grumpy. I chased an idea last night, staying up until midnight. I knew full well that I needed to get up at dawn to walk our dog Mordor in this tropical winter. (Did I mention we’re trying the tropics again this winter like we did two years ago?) My husband, Jonathon, and I have had enough of ice and snow. Genevieve came into our life hating the cold. She seems to take snow as a personal insult, but then she was raised in the south where winter is a mild dip in temperature, but nothing more inconvenient than that. I was raised in Northern Indiana. I’ve shoveled snowdrifts taller than the Chevy Nova which was my very first car. I believe my freshman year of college still stands as, “worst winter ever” in that part of the country, but I could be wrong. I moved to Southern California after college and then to St. Louis which does have winter, but it’s more ice than snow. Genevieve still takes it all very personally, as if we had lured her to this cold, cloud covered place without explaining all the weather options. Spike takes things more in stride, but then he’s a combat vet. If no one is shooting at him, or trying to blow him up, it’s a good day. Three of us have done our time with snow, and one of us doesn’t want to shovel a single ounce of it, so this year we are trying to snowbird for the entire winter. It’s an experiment. In a few months we’ll see what results we get. So far, we’re liking it, but Mordor is out of shape for the tropics. He’s a Japanese chin, which is a toy breed, and that means two pounds of weight on him is like a human being gaining a hundred pounds. I took him to the vet to make sure he was healthy otherwise and got an exercise requiem for him. Thirty minutes a day, I literally set a timer for fifteen minutes, then reset it, and then start back for another fifteen minutes. He’s a long haired breed with a pushed in face, so he’s never great in the heat, but with the extra weight he’s really not. What’s a snowbird to do? I’m setting an alarm to try and get us out and back before the heat comes up too high for him, which means dawn. So all the way back to me chasing an idea until midnight and then crawling out of bed at dawn to dog walk. Oh, he and I have discovered we have a new allergy to palm trees. I’m told that most people have to be around an allergen for awhile to react to it, but my dog and I are special snowflakes, or would that be seashells here?

​The allergy isn’t helping my overweight, pushed face dog breath better in this humidity. Come to that, it’s not helping me either, hello inhaler. So, I’ve been up since dawn, walked the dog, walked me, made tea, drunk a cup of it, had breakfast, but all I can think of is I’ve been up for hours and I’m still not at my desk writing. I’m writing this blog on my iPad at the kitchen table. I’ve noticed that writing anything at my desk makes my muse/brain think we’ve written for the day, so I’ve moved all non-book/story related writing away from my main desk. I need sitting down at the desk to be part of my ritual of approach again. I need to figure out how to make the doctor ordered dog exercise part of my morning ritual that gets me to my desk, but it’s too new to be part of any ritual. I love the view from my desk here, I love it here, but I haven’t found my writing routine here yet. I’m starting to be a little desperate to make pages on the next book, which is why I am grumpy as I stare out at the turquoise water. I’m still doing some essential research for the book, which is also maddening, because it doesn’t fill the same need for me. My imagination is no longer my friend. Taking out the trash at night is full of strange noises and I’m jumping at shadows. I need to put these scary, violent ideas down on paper and get them out of my head. My deadline is fixed and I need to make it, but in the end it’s my own internal system that demands I write fiction. I either put my nightmares on paper or they come and get me, and my little dog, too.  

37 thoughts on “Nightmares and Snowbirds”

    1. A number of years ago I worked for a speciality veterinary hospital. The speciality was cat, however; more pure bred many brachycephalic. Our doctors would nebulize these short faces patients who had breathing difficulties. Just thinking if it can be done for cat why not dogs. Just a thought!

  1. Wow a palm allergy that just feels like an insult. To spend time in a warm climate for it to assault your lungs. I feel for your pup. Maybe try semi desert so it is warm but dry. May I suggest texas maybe el paso. I know not sexy but the view of the mountians is very nice unless your allergic to junipers then its just deadly. I bet Anita does not have to deal with allergies. I have always wondered with her temper and killing tendencies how her ill and dependent on others would work. Anyway enjoy snowbirding.

  2. One word to solve Mordor’s weight, heat and allergy problems all in one fell swoop: treadmill. Train him to walk on one and not only do you get to stay inside until the wind has shifted and dealt with some of the pollen count, but you also have an option to avoid morning downpours. 😉

  3. I moved to the Florida myself this past June, I love it here!!! Being next to the water again is very energetic and feeds my soul. But yes the palm population down here can be overwhelming, the different noises and at times the quiet takes some getting use to, but I found after a short time my mind was calmer and I am more at peace… That not thinking thing you talk about at times, I found I can achieve it here.

  4. If there’s a facility near, swimming your dog, or indoor treadmill to stay away from heat/humidity/allergens may be helpful. Short-term, anyway, though it probably wouldn’t help with resettling your ritual.

  5. I actually moved back to Maine almost 2 years ago. It is still kind of weird to have all of this snow in the winter time. I spent too many years living in Florida where winter is anything that drops below 70 degrees. I am getting more use to it.
    Enjoy your new experiment and I hope you can manage to incorporate your dog’s new workout routine into your daily writing routine without too many more hiccups.
    You are my favorite author. Thank you for all you do. All of you.

  6. I am not a snowbird. I come from a state (New Mexico) that gets snow for the winter. I retired to a state (Colorado) that gets snow for the winter. Not by choice. Colorado is hubbies home state, and after 20 years of following him around from base to base during his time in the service, this is where we landed 😛 Next life i want to be one of those people that travels for the seasons.

  7. You could always come back to California, where the “warmer” isn’t tropical, and you can get to the snow when you need…

  8. You really went Wizard of Oz on that last comment. I just somehow imagined a witch and her pointy hat chasing you. I am the opposite, I want to try the snowbird thing.

  9. These things take time, if you rush them they never seem to turn out right. Only you can decide when that time is enough and your ready to sit at that desk and start your next masterpiece. Enjoy what you have while you have it. You never know when it will change.

  10. its not fun to have a dog with long hair especially if he has a pushed in nose like a chin or peke. i have a pom & the long hair for her isnt pleasent either in hot weather so i shave her down. she is so much happier so if you havent tried that yet its worth a try. enjoy the fabulous weather with everyone dear i wish i was in the tropics somewhere too.

  11. I’m from the south and I crave the snow. Snow is a dream for me here, and the thousand degree weather is my nightmare. Having extra “insulation” on my body doesn’t help. So, I tend to want to head to snowier climates in the winter. I find it interesting the differences between temperature preferences in people. Enjoy your holiday in your warmer climate!

  12. As someone with Raynaud’s Phenomenon, I’m just sick of the cold already. I would gladly, gladly spend time in a tropical area to get away from the cold which is causing some rather nasty cases of ‘Zombie hands’ for me this year.

  13. If you haven’t switched your pup to a raw diet (even a premade one), then I would try that too. When I made the switch, my pudgy miniature pinscher quickly became a svelte little dog again. It seriously seemed to give him back years. Anyway, just something to try out!

  14. I appreciate that you work so earnestly to meet your deadlines, unlike some other authors. I hope you enjoy your warm winter, while I enjoy reading your books through the snow.

  15. Swimming is a great low impact way for Mordor to lose weight. Our pug Millie has a little life jacket to help keep her flat face above water. Works a treat.

  16. Have you tried a doggy treadmill? They aren’t cheap but worth the investment if you have a small dog and either you or they cannot do the long outdoor walk. Just start really slowly, let them get used to the machine before trying to get them walking on it. You have to stay close and keep an eye on them but since I have very bad knees it is a great substitute for days I cannot do the walk.

  17. I’m sure once you’ve acclimatised for a few weeks you will be fine. No pressure whatsoever but I’ve re read the entire series of Anita Blake after finishing your new book so another one soon would be amazing. I hope Mordor settles in too.

  18. Good luck getting your routine down. Blessed Yule and I hope you enjoy the clear waters. After being such a fan of your Anita Blake series, I finally finished the Merry series. Wow. I love the way your writing focuses me back to what is most important in my life and keeps me from taking things for granted.

  19. I live in North Bend, WA on the north fork of the Snoqualmie River with majestic Mt. Si in my front yard. It started snowing befor dawn here and it’s still snowing. I’m from Virginia Beach, Va. Mostly. I’m half Japanese, 1/2 German, 100% American. Born in Yokohama, Japan, left at age 5 for Virginia Beach, Va. I lived in Vernon, NJ. Worked in NYC for the Federal Reserve. I’ve done snow. My husband who was completely sane when I married him 12 years ago, tells me that we will be getting 35-40 inches of snow. Then one warm day and then the polar freaking votex is coming by mid next week and we should see some REAL snowfall, not a “trifling” 35-40 inches. I so want to get my Japanese Mama’s cast iron pan and just let it fly. It’s a very well balanced skillet. Good torque. SMH. I better get to shoveling….

    Oh and P. S. I LOVE Merry Gentry. Can’t wait for the next book!!

  20. You may be grumpy, but you gave me a bright spot during a night of insomnia last night. I thought I had read every Anita Blake you had released, but to my surprise, I found a lovely novella that I hadn’t seen before (bad fangirl). Anyway, as a fellow Midwesterner, do enjoy the tropics…it’s finally decided to get chilly here in Kansas. Thank you for being you!

  21. I’m a little further south than you but I hate the cold as well. Love your books and that’s a great way to spend the cold winter evenings!

  22. I’m not sure where you are in the tropics, but I lived in the Caribbean for a while in the USVI- all of them as I was something of a nomad, -as well as Puerto Rico. I know several spots, and if you’re into island hopping allow me to give you some ideas?

    1) The Domino Club w beer drinking pigs
    St. Croix

    2) Riviera park east side benches
    San Juan

    St Croix

    4) Jacks Beach
    St Croix

    5) The Banana Bar in Vieques on the first Friday closest to the full moon for the Full Moon Beach Party

    6) Sinatra old bar in Christiansted St Croix

    7) Havanna Blue in Red Hook St Thomas

    Hope you get to visit one or a couple of those some time. I can’t tell you what your books have meant to me all through my 20’s and into my 30’s. I really felt like I had a how to guide with my life style and self confidence thanks to you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you force it you wouldn’t be happy with the outcome anyway.


  23. I lived in the USVI for a long while, as well as Puerto Rico. I know a lot of spots around that area and would be glad to share if you’re in that area. I don’t want to post them here in case anyone might stalk you 😉 I want to say one thing: Please do not be so difficult on yourself. I can’t tell you what your books have meant to me all through my 20’s and into my 30’s. I have always had a very different lifestyle from most people; it was very similar to yours in fact. Your books really helped me come out of my shell, build self confidence and a comfort level with myself that I didn’t have before. Feel free to get a hold of me should you want to know any of those spots.

  24. Get a treadmill…then in the afternoon, in the a/c, after you have got to sleep in.. set it on slow, leash him up and let him walk for his 15 minutes…then do it again later. Voila! No need for hot outdoor walks 🙂 (I have seen this with dogs, it does work and isnt harmful to them) Might help your allergies too!

  25. I wonder if its easier to write a grumpy and tired Anita when you’re grumpy and tired? Magnesium tablets are great for energy and mood, really help when you’re not getting enough sleep. Take care of yourself too!

  26. You can always try the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. We are also near the border. The tip of Texas. You can stay at South Padre Island. Christmas was in the 80s and so was New Year’s Day. It gets cold but not the snowing kind of cold, Sort of like Florida. You can enjoy the Gulf. It can be 80 one day and 50 or 60 another day and then back up to 60/70 the next or higher.

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