"No, Mom, I'm Not in a Texas Prison," and Other Updates of Note

If you believe my grandmother, I’m apparently writing this from behind the walls of a Texas prison. If you believe the GPS unit on my phone, I’m writing this from Grand Rapids. Where, oh were, could I be?
Texas Pokey?
Funny story. So last week, my mother calls and asks, point-blank: “Where are you?”
I was brutally honest in reply: “Well, I’m on my back porch right now, with a bit of grog and a cigar. Where are you?” 
To which, she burst out in laughter. Her own mother — St. Dorothy the Matriarch — had just called her upset because she had received a collect call from a Texas prison from someone whose muffled name may have sounded like “Jay.” Of course, granny didn’t accept the call that she feared may have come from her own flesh and blood. Instead, she hung up and called my mother to demand that she figure out where I was. My mother, ever the practical sort, dialed my cell phone. So although I do intend to visit the Metroplex at some point (perhaps this fall?) to see my friends from the Denton Dallas and Beyond podcast in their natural environment, I am not presently in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
So what’s up with the prison call? It’s a scam, of course.
Social Wrap-Up
Tidings of social merriment:

  • Last night, I enjoyed wine and cheese at Reserve with my friend Michelle. The server slipped me a note with the name of an online-only wine retailer that, in her view, makes the best “nerdy whites” on the market. I’ll have to check it out.
  • Friday was WriteOn. Writers and pizza and creative brainstorming, oh my! We even had the rare twofer of Cassidy plus AdamSmash.
  • Two Saturdays ago, I had cigars and cocktails with Brian and Mark. That was fun.
  • My new department at the hospital had an “un-birthday” party recently, to celebrate everyone’s 27th non-birthday all at the same time. We went to Ichiban and had sushi and assorted adult beverages. Mmm.
  • A few weeks ago I trekked to Lansing for a recording session with Tony that transformed into a dinner (at Gilbert & Blakes) and cigar (at The Corona) extravaganza with him and his lovely better half.
  • This coming Wednesday is the monthly Cigar and Cocktail Evening, to be held at 7 p.m. at Grand River Cigar. All are welcome, no RSVP required.

Writing Deliciousness
My writing group embarked on a year-long voyage of creative discovery through the development of Mechlanberg, a steampunk-type city for which we’re all collaborating on a series of short stories.  Each member of the group is responsible for one aspect of the city’s development. My assigned area is “crime and danger.” Every meeting, we discuss and rehash various aspects of how the world functions — its history, topography, culture, economy, etc. I’ve started writing a series of short stories based on the crime/danger paradigm through the eyes of a young girl named Elyse entering Mechlanberg from the desert to become a “firefly” (a member of a prostitute’s guild). I’m underplaying some of the more “out-there” aspects of Mechlanberg lore — like memory water and tentacle forests — to focus on a character-development story arc. If I keep doing one short story each month, and each builds on the last, then I’ll have developed a novella before NaNoWriMo ’13 kicks off. Not a bad accomplishment.
Read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, if you wish. Be ye warned: They’re both in “first draft status” (thank you, Scrivener) and haven’t been edited for word choice, detail, etc. So they’re a bit rough.
Of Marathons and Half-Marathons and Iron Men
The plan, at present, is that Tony, Jen and I will compete in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in mid November. They’re thinking “half marathon,” which makes sense given everyone’s relative level of fitness. The event is one of only two times a year that The Strip shuts down to vehicular traffic (the other time is New Year’s Eve) and the run occurs at night so the lights of Las Vegas take pride of place.
There’s also the North Country Run, an event I just learned about and fully intend to attempt in 2014 (registration for 2013 has since closed). It’s a trail run — half, full or ultra — in Manistee National Forest, presumably along a segment of the North Country Trail. Apart from a brief loop on a semi-paved road, the entire race is conducted on the single-file foot trails of the forest and includes such features as roots to trip you up, mosquitoes to drain your blood and flags to guide you so you don’t accidentally run off-trail and get eaten by a bear. Sounds heavenly.
I’m still pondering a triathlon at some point. My cousin Callista completed an Ironman event last year and that’s just freaking awesome. She worked really hard at it, and I respect her for that. I just need to work on my biking skills a bit and re-learn how to swim without a tank on my back.
Isle Royale
… and speaking of the outdoors, it’s a 95-percent probable “go!” that I’ll be doing a backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park in late May or early June. The expedition involves an eight-hour drive to Houghton, followed by a six-hour trek by boat to the island. Spend four nights on the trail, then return the same way. Scheduling isn’t final yet — I have to stagger it with other people’s vacations and a three-night training trip to Madison, WI, in May — but I have everything lined up for a peaceful trek in the Lake Superior backcountry, with just the island’s wolves and moose to keep me company.
The Fuzzies
Readers of this blog know that I don’t post a lot of pictures. No LOLcats, no funny pictures with meme-style overprint, no “look at me, I’m drunk in an exclusive club” selfies, no “look at my hippie dinner” Instagrams.
So here’s your exception:
Yes. I now have two cats. Long story, but they’re fabulous little critters who are perfectly litter trained, people-friendly and just all-around adorable. Even when they wake me up at 4 a.m., having decided in their feline wisdom that it’s time for me to get up and pet them.

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