A Month in the Life

The onset on seasonal fur-shedding by my feline overlords reminds me that summer’s coming, a welcome reminder in the mid-winter gloom. The characteristically goofy weather in the Upper Midwest has contributed to a sense of change: Last night, we were in the low 20s F, but a few days before we enjoyed the upper 60s.
Some updates, in no particular order:
Ziggy and Tiger. So speaking of cats, my two neighborhood friends, Ziggy and Tiger, continue to be a near-daily presence around the property. Of the two, Tiger — a neutered male, and sweet as molasses — is probably an indoor/outdoor cat for someone. He’s obviously well cared-for, with no signs of injury or illness, and he’s extremely friendly to strange humans. Ziggy, a black tuxedo female, is a bit worse for wear. She’s also adorable, with a chirpy meow, but she’s underweight and is now showing occasional signs of injury (perhaps from fights) as well as patches of fur loss and ear damage. She has a collar, and I texted with the phone number on the tag a few months ago, but the response was cagey. I suspect she was abandoned last fall. If she starts to appear to be in real distress, I’ll probably scoop her up and take her to the vet, and then look into having her put in a shelter. She deserves a loving forever home.
Chicago. Just got back from an unusually warm and sunny Windy City for the semiannual commission meetings for NAHQ. Great experience. The four commission chairs met Wednesday for a day of planning with the executive director and the president and president-elect. My commission met Thursday and Friday. Went well. Flights were also pretty good, although I was thiiiiiis close to starting an angry tweetstorm with American Airlines. Apparently, AA swapped the plane type. The plane arrived into O’Hare on time, but it was a different model with different weight-and-balance requirements. I was one of nine passengers pulled aside on the “you’re probably gunna be bumped” list. Ultimately, we all were able to board, but — THE PLANE WAS ONLY TWO-THIRDS FULL. Why we’d be over-weight on such a de-populated flight defies reason.
Caffeinated Press. We’re entering a make-or-break year. We’ve mastered the art of making books, but the bigger challenge is selling those books. Although we’re in various catalogs, and we do a fair amount of hand-selling on our own, the real trick is networking with independent bookstores. So it appears that we’ll be doing our own state-wide distribution operation. With Partners having closed, and other distributors being big and expensive, I think that divvying up our target market and personally serving participating bookstores is probably the key to success and the next evolution of our business. Meanwhile, we’ve got exciting changes coming for our literary journal, The 3288 Review, and nine new titles in various stages of completion. And also: Most of the heavy lifting of our tech migration has now concluded. New project-management tools, new email server, new learning-mangaement system … yay!
Grand River Writing Tribe. The Tribe continues to meet. It’s going well, so far. Great participation and engagement, and a wonderful group of people around the table. We’ll be re-opening the door to membership at the end of March, so if you’re local to the Grand Rapids area and wish to join, consider our Grand River Writing Tribe online application.
Poetry. Poems are funny things: When you want to write them, you can’t; when you don’t have the time to write, inspiration strikes. I’ve been working on a collection — a chapbook provisionally titled Whiskey, Cats & Poems — for a while. Got a half-dozen poems or so complete. Then … nada. But, this morning, eight new ideas struck me, like the cars in an out-of-control freight train. At least I had the foresight to take notes. I’m not a skilled poet, by any measure, but I’m working on it. Very relaxing, especially writing by candlelight with (you guessed it!) a cat and some whiskey. But working more with poets and reading much more poetry, thanks to my time with the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters, has proven instructive.
Get Published! and UntitledTown. We at Caffeinated Press have been invited to participate again in the Get Published! writers conference, which this year will be in Holland in mid April. Then, in late April, I’ll be off to UntitledTown in Green Bay, WI, to present a session about publishing. Exciting!
State Convention. I went to my political party’s state convention earlier this month. Got to meet some great new people from mid-Michigan. Stayed the night with Tony and his wife at their palatial estate in Dimondale. Great weekend all around! I went to my political party’s state convention earlier this month. Got to meet some great new people from mid-Michigan. Stayed the night with Tony and his wife at their palatial estate in Dimondale. Great weekend all-around!
Personal Goals. During my Christmas vacation, I did a great job of more carefully planning my 2017 goals down to the month level. That approach seems to have paid off — progress and visibility are now more “in my face” than they were before, leading to more deliberate decisions about how I spend my time and what I choose to prioritize.
Ash Wednesday. Lent’s coming this week. I’ve had a personal goal of returning more actively to regular liturgical life. Perhaps this year will be the year.
All for now. Enjoy the rest of the winter!