I live in the teeny, tiny town of Taylor, NY, (Alliteration Alert!) though my mailing address is Cincinnatus, my telephone exchange is Truxton and I pay taxes and vote in Cuyler. All of these are at least in the same rural county in the southern hills of New York State; Cortland County. There are more cattle than people here. The nearest “big” cities are Syracuse and Binghamton and they are an hour away, in different directions, and not really all that big by most standards, though they both seem humongous to me. I look out my window to see rolling, green, thickly forested hills, wildflower laden meadows and wide open blue, blue skies. My road is barely paved. The nearest neighboring place is a 700 acre dairy farm.
My house is a big, century old farmhouse. I moved in here after my divorce in 2006. Just a little over a year later, the house, which I had named, SERENITY, burned. It was 99% gutted, and I lost my two dogs, Sally, an 11-year-old great Dane, and Wrinkles, my 14-year-old, blind bulldog. This was the culmination of my Dark Night of the soul, which had seemed to hit me all at once in 2006-2007. My mother died that year, after a 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was only 60. The youngest of my five daughters had left home that same year, and while that’s not a tragedy at all, it felt like one to me. Then came the divorce. And finally there was the fire--it seemed my darkest night wasn’t quite finished with me after all. I had lost almost everything before that point, and as I poked through the wet ashes and soot the next day, I realized that I had now been stripped all the way to the bone.
No better time to start over. (And no, I didn’t come to that realization that day--there were a few days of wallowing in pity first, particularly the day after the fire, when I hit a deer and smashed up my car, which I was practically living in!)
That’s when I started to laugh. Just sat on the side of the road as the deer bounded, uninjured and carefree, out of sight, and laughed. It was just too ridiculous at that point, to do anything else!
And from there, I picked myself up, and brushed myself off, and said, okay, there’s only one way to go from here. Forward. And that’s what I did. There I was at the age of harrurmphemmph, living in my one, mostly undamaged remaining room, with a dorm-sized mini-fridge, a futon, a TV, my cat (nine lives!) and a laptop. And not much else. (Though thank goodness the room that survived the fire, was a room that had its own attached bathroom!)
Since then I have rebuilt my beloved home, which really has become my haven, my “Serenity.” I share it now with my fiancé, Lance, and we have accumulated quite the little family together. “Little” being a relative term. We have a pair of English Mastiffs, Dozer and Daisy, who weigh 203 pounds and 208 pounds respectively, and a little pudgy English Bulldog named Niblet, who is bigger than both of them, inside her mind. We also have the aforementioned cat, Glorificus (“Glory” for short,) who adores her canine pups and keeps them firmly in line. And we've acquired a pair of stray cats as well, a mother and son, Luna (Lulu for short) and Butters aka Buddy. Lulu showed up pregnant during a lunar eclipse, had a litter, and vanished again. We found homes for all the kittens except one. Butters. We got him fixed and kept him. A few months later, Lulu returned, again expecting. This litter was born on the "Monster Moon." Again, all the kittens were spayed and neutered and placed in homes, and this time we got Lulu to the vet in time to spay her before the cycle could repeat.
Glory is not amused.
She has a story of her own, my old Glory cat, having been with me before the Dark Times descended, she went through it all with me, moved with me, survived the fire, and remains with me still. She's tolerating the newcomers. Barely.
My partner is an artist, a mechanic, a welder and an inventor, and the rumors are true, he is much younger than I
Maggie Shayne is the author of books: An Enchanted Season (Psy-Changeling #0.5; Murphy Sisters #1), The Littlest Cowboy (The Texas Brands #1), The Brands Who Came For Christmas (The Oklahoma Brands, #1), Wild Thing (Includes: Warriors of Poseidon, #1.5; Guardians, #1.5), Weddings from Hell, The Gingerbread Man, Night's Edge, Prince of Twilight (Wings in the Night #12), Edge of Twilight (Wings in the Night, #10), Twilight Hunger (Wings in the Night, #7)