Category Archives: Life

Canine Adventures, part 2

Four questions I wished I had asked in advance when we adopted Teddy from a private rescue organization:

1. Are your dogs neutered or spayed before being adopted out?
Teddy’s estimated age is two years and he was not neutered when we adopted him. Public animal shelters like the Humane Society always neuter an animal before putting it up for adoption. I was surprised that wasn’t the case for private rescue.

2. When will my dog be neutered and by whom?
All of the information regarding the neuter was in the adoption contract. This private rescue organization utilizes a local veterinary technician college, and the pet owner is not allowed to interface with the vet tech college at any time during the dog’s four-day stay there. The rescue organization has until the date hand-written on the contract to arrange to have the neuter/spay done. In our case that was three months after the adoption date.

3. Why haven’t you sent me the adoption contract (in advance)?
The contract was emailed to me exactly 75 minutes before our appointment, a thirty minute drive away.

4. What arrangement do you have with the high-kill shelter(s)?
I don’t know the answer. The dogs on this organization’s web site are all attractive, much more so than the ones at my local shelter, and they have a lot more puppies. I like the warm fuzzy satisfaction of believing my dog might have been killed if he had stayed at that Nevada shelter. I just can’t help but wonder if these dogs are really “the cream of the crop” instead of “unwanted on death row.”

It was not in Teddy’s best interest or ours to wait three months, so we had Teddy neutered by our regular, licensed veterinarian. The private rescue organization is doing a very positive thing, and they are sincerely dedicated to their mission. I’ve asked around and discovered that private rescues are becoming common, and if that means more homeless dogs find forever homes, then the net result is a good thing. We love Teddy, and are happy to have him join our family.

My advice to potential dog-owners considering adopting from a private rescue: ask more questions than I did. Carefully read anything hand-written on the contract after you signed it, before leaving with your new dog. Clarify all information conveyed verbally and check for consistency with the written contract.

Here’s a photo of Teddy a couple days after he was neutered.

Miriah Hetherington's dog

Teddy in the car, wearing the “cone of destruction”

If you adopted your dog from a private rescue, did everything go as expected?

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Canine Adventures, part 1

One month ago we adopted a dog, named Teddy by one of my kids.

Miriah Hetherington's dog Teddy

Teddy in the back yard

Neither my husband nor I have ever owned a dog before. So this is a learning adventure for all of us.

We adopted Teddy from a private rescue organization that brings dogs from high-kill shelters to the Seattle area. He came from Nevada. According to the shelter documents his breed is “border collie mix.” Since we brought him home I’ve learned what that basically means is “black and white dog.” There could be some border collie in his genes. But likely there’s some bull-dog or pit-bull and maybe even some great dane in there also.

Teddy weighs 75 pounds, so he’s pretty big. He’s a very sweet guy, calm most of the time, and loves belly rubs and squeaky toys. He’s learning to walk on a leash, but still tends to forget everything when he sees (or smells) a rabbit or squirrel – critters we have in abundance around here. We are still keeping him separate from our two cats, who are both rather unimpressed with the newest member of the family.

Microsoft Campus trail Sasquatch sign

Teddy poses for a selfie with me

A Frosty Transaction

It’s December already. Where did the year go? In honor of December and the holiday/Christmas season, I’ve decided to share a Christmas-themed, horror-flash, fan-fiction story I wrote.

I’m linking this story in the comments on Chuck Wendig’s blog, where he posed a challenge to write a Flash Fiction Challenge: Holiday Horror Extravaganza.

A Taste of Christmas Spirit
By Miriah Hetherington

Ethan rubbed his hands together and blew into them with steamy breath. He looked from the tip jar to his watch. It was six o’clock. Time to close up the espresso stand, and his tips barely covered the bus fare home. At least the boss was paying him double for working the Fourth Avenue cart on Christmas Eve.

He made two large mochas before closing up the stand. He was half-way to saving enough money to buy his own coffee cart, and someday he hoped to own his own restaurant. Ethan decided to save his meager tips and walk home, but stopped by the bus shelter to give one of the coffees to the homeless guy who’d been sleeping there for the last three nights. He wasn’t there, and Ethan hoped he’d found a better place.

Ethan turned the corner next to Macy’s on Main Street and joined a throng of foot traffic crossing the street. On the corner sidewalk, an older woman in a heavy white coat and ear muffs was busy setting up a vintage snow cone vending cart with a snowman painted on the side. As he got closer he heard her humming the Frosty the Snowman tune.

“Hello,” he said.

She turned, and Ethan could see that she was older than he’d first thought, but her eyes were lively and bright. “Sorry, my boy. I’m not open yet.”

“Uh, I wasn’t-” Ethan looked around. Other passers-by seemed to ignore her, and the old woman appeared to be alone. She opened a box full of snow cone syrup bottles and put one on the counter. “Ma’am, nobody’s going to buy snow cones tonight, it’s too cold.”

“I’ve been doing this for over fifty years — every Christmas Eve.” She winked. “Is one of those hot drinks for me?”

Ethan looked down at the two mochas he still held in his hands. “Sure.” He handed over the cup he’d intended for the homeless man.

“My name is Karen.”

“Ethan.” He shook her hand, a little surprised by how firm her grip was. “Would you like some help?”

Karen’s smile widened. “I would be delighted.” She took a sip of the mocha and gestured to the box. Ethan began unpacking the syrup bottles while Karen lined them up on the counter.

An overhead street light flickered in the early evening gloom. The light made the syrup bottles glimmer. He unpacked five shades of red, from blood-red charitable cherry, to wispy pink wise watermelon. Kindness kiwi glowed a tempting green, next to generous berry blue and orange tropical contentment.
Karen placed an empty gallon-size jug on the counter, and Ethan read the sign taped to it. “Pay what you wish?” He snorted, remembering his mostly empty tip jar from earlier. “Really?”

Karen shrugged and began filling a paper cone from the snow bin. “I’m serving Christmas Spirit. Who can put a price on that?”

“Uh-huh.” Ethan regarded the oblivious shoppers waiting at the corner for the street light to change. The old woman was clearly reality-challenged. But he couldn’t leave her here in the cold alone, waiting for customers all night.
Just then, a middle aged woman wearing a stylish overcoat and designer shoes stepped up to the stand. “I’ll take jolly raspberry.” She dropped a twenty dollar bill in the jar.

More customers began to stop at the snow cone cart. Karen poured grateful grape for a sullen teenager texting on her cell phone. A grey-haired man who announced he was a retired traffic cop chose playful peppermint.

A crowd surrounded the cart and Ethan filled paper cups with snow as fast as he could while Karen poured the syrup. Finally, the snow bin was empty except for a corncob pipe, button, and two lumps of coal. Ethan’s announcement that they were out of snow was met with a flurry of disappointed sighs as Karen sent people away.

Ethan stretched and looked at the gallon jug. It was full of bills, none less than twenty as far as he could tell. “I don’t believe it.”

“I always save one cone,” said Karen. She opened a side compartment and took out the last snow cone and an old silk top-hat. “I’m getting too old for this, Ethan. How would you like to take over?”

“Are you kidding?” It was Ethan’s dream come true. “But, I don’t think I can afford it.”

Karen pressed her lips together in a thin smile. “Consider it a Christmas gift. The cart, everything — the jar of money too. But you have to accept the responsibility. The snow bin can only be filled once a year, on Christmas Eve.”

With the money in that tip jar and his savings, Ethan could buy his own coffee cart. The unflavored snow cone glittered red and green, probably reflecting the changing traffic lights. Ethan’s mouth watered in anticipation as he reached out.

Karen pulled it back. “You must accept responsibility for the cart and agree to sell Christmas Spirit yourself, every Christmas Eve. Do you accept?” She held out the hat and the snow cone.

“Absolutely, I accept.” Ethan grasped the hat and brought the snow cone to his mouth. It cooled his tongue with a burst of sweetness like nothing he had ever tasted before. All at once he felt everything each syrup bottle had promised. He slurped charity, wisdom, kindness, generosity, contentment, gratefulness, playfulness, and joy. Everything the holiday season was supposed to be about. Far too soon, the cone was empty.

Ethan regarded the empty snow bin. “Just tell me what I have to do.”
The End

frosty-the-snowman-12
Frosty the Snowman is not in the public domain and doesn’t belong to me, so this story is fan fiction.

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it.

because purple is my favorite color

I’ve been wanting to color some of my hair purple (again) for some time.

Miriah Hetherington

Miriah with purple hair


This was the first time I used bleach to lighten (part of) my hair before coloring it. Seriously nasty stuff. I’m sure the fumes killed a spider that has been hanging around my bathroom sink. Also, after it was on, my hair got hot – really hot. I had to ask one of my twins if it was supposed to do that. The purple was easy, but I did have to be VERY careful to clean every accidental smudge right away.

a bee caught by a spider in Miriah Hetherington's front garden

Bee caught by a spider.


I love the lavender that is blooming in front of my house. The bees like it too. As do spiders, apparently.

Have you done anything unusual (for you) this summer?

Happy Writing

Be Entertaining

Mary Rosenblum has this wonderful website, New Writer’s Interface, and recently she blogged her advice for new writers who have trouble figuring out what to blog about. That is totally me!

I subscribe to Mary Rosenblum’s newsletter. I recommend it. She describes herself as the Literary Midwife for new writers. I love the idea of that.

Anyway, her main advice was: be entertaining.

Goats at Farrel-McWhirter park

Goats at Farrel-McWhirter park

Somehow I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend about twenty years ago. She was pregnant with her second child, due anytime, and worried about needing to have labor induced like with her first delivery. Her midwife told her something like, “Have I got a fun assignment for you! You and your husband go home and have sex. A lot of sex. And have orgasms. A lot of orgasms. That will get your labor started.”

My friend’s pregnancy was near term and she was huge and uncomfortable. It was a hot Southern California summer. She was perpetually exhausted. Her (unsurprising) response was, “Ugh! Not only do I have to have sex, but I have to have orgasms too?!?” (I don’t remember what her husband’s opinion was – I think he wisely kept it to himself.)

Where am I going with this? (Nope, not there. At least, not without a pseudonym.)

But I AM thinking, “Not only do I have to write a blog post, but I have to be entertaining too?”

The most entertaining and thoughtfully funny blog I know of is Chuck Wendig’s – he makes you feel like you’re sitting with him drinking a beer. The most engaging blog I know of is Louise Penny’s – she makes you feel like a personal friend.

Clearly, some (awesome) people just have a knack for making this blogging thing seem easy. Blogging is writing, and writing is what I do for fun. So thinking of ideas/stuff to blog about should be easy, right?

Like everything else I guess it just takes practice.

Where do you get ideas for blog posts?

Happy Writing,
Miriah

Volunteering

Another thing that occupies my time besides raising two teenagers and writing is Slighe nan Gaidheal. I’m still recovering from the Seattle Fèis the week of June 9 to 15.

“Fèis” is a Scottish Gaelic word meaning festival. (Not to be confused with “feis” which means something rather different :-)

The event was sponsored by Slighe nan Gaidheal, a non-profit that creates ongoing language and music programs in the Pacific Northwest, and puts on the Fèis in alternating years at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.

Fort Worden State Park Bunker

My twins looking out at the beach from the Fort Worden Bunker

The Seattle Fèis is amazing, and it could not happen without dozens of volunteers. I was the Registrar in 2010 and 2012, and it was a huge amount of work. I am so grateful to this year’s team of dedicated, hard-working volunteers.

Even though I wasn’t on the Fèis planning committee this year, I was involved because I’m Slighe’s (volunteer) treasurer. That’s kept me busy! (btw, unless you have an iPhone, Intuit GoPayment is a horrible pain in the ass, in my opinion.)

Volunteering is a wonderful way to support the things you love. How do you volunteer your time?

A Eulogy, sort of

This is a diversion from my usual posts. Something personal.

My ex-husband James L. Arther Jr. passed away on Sunday from liver cancer. I am sad for my beloved oldest daughter, the child I had with him. I’m deeply sorry she has lost her father. I love her dearly and she loved him.

I will admit that when Jim and I divorced twenty years ago, and in the years following when our daughter was a child and I had to interact with him, I may have wished for this day to come much sooner.

I’ve been trying to think of positive things to say about Jim.
*/four days of racking my brain/*
Uh… half of my wonderful oldest child’s DNA came from him. That’s the best I can come up with.

Lilacs at my house.

Lilacs at my house.

Jim was 19 years older than me. People wondered why I was attracted to him. It was because when we met our neuroses were perfectly matched. Back then I had extremely low self-esteem and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved. He craved unconditional love, and expected the people who loved him to constantly prove it. His “testing” reinforced my negative self-image and provided constant opportunities to earn his conditional love.

It’s my fault the marriage fell apart. I changed. After I started going to therapy, I began to believe that I was a worthwhile person and deserved to be treated as such. I recognized his emotional and verbal abuse for what it was. Jim liked our relationship the way it was and didn’t want to change.

There is so much more I could say, but already this is a little too personal. I do not regret being married to Jim, because I wouldn’t trade my oldest child for anything.

Rest in peace, Jim. But don’t be surprised if you rise again as a villain in one of my stories.

Happy Writing.