In Memory Of: Rory

This one is especially dear to my heart.  Rory was my baby, more so than any other animal we’ve had in the rescue, and we lost him far too soon.  I fed and raised him from a hatchling into adult and had a wonderful relationship with him.  Rory came to us at just five days old.  A family down in Rigby previously acquired a breeding pair of Military Macaws.  The pair had a clutch of eggs, but when the babies hatched the parents did not feed and care for them properly.  We were originally contacted in regards to Rory’s “older brother.”  At three weeks old, the poor baby bird was deformed, barely had any feathers, and didn’t have the strength to lift his own head.  We cared for him for a little while, but at the veterinarian’s advice let him be put down.  Several other eggs hatched, but the babies all died within a few days.

And then came Rory.  One of the last eggs to hatch, he received enough care to make it the first few days before he was discovered by the family (hey, it’s scary reaching into the nest of two large macaws) and removed for more direct care.  They gave him to us to feed and raise, originally just until he was full grown but later decided to donate him to the rescue.  I remember staying up all night long, having to prepare his mush and feeding him.  For the first few days he didn’t trust me, but after that he learned how to use the feeding syringe and would “ask” for it.  Even when he was an adult, he still loved to take drinks of water from a syringe or straw.

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My philosophy with raising Rory was to let anyone and everyone hold and touch him.  I think too many people are too cautious of their big birds and in the process of trying to protect people from getting hurt they end up teaching their birds not to trust strangers.  And my strategy worked.  Rory grew up to be the friendliest and most open macaw I’d ever met.  He loved to be snuggled tight against one’s chest and scratched nice and slow on the back of his neck.  He also loved being scratched under his wing, and would lift up his arm to invite you to reach in.  He never learned to talk much.  The only thing he said consistently and clearly was “Hi Rory” whenever he got excited, such as when I put food into his food dish.

Rory was great for educational shows, science classes, and just in general making people have a great time.Video call snapshot 32

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In Memory Of: Beast

Having written about Beauty when she passed I realized that I will treasure those words forever.  This is my first blog, and I am beginning to see why some people consider it a kind of journal.  So what I would like to do is make a short series of blogs dedicated to remembering certain special animals that have come and gone at the Wildhouse rescue.  Some passed away, others  went on to families or back to the wild.  I do not think I shall expound on the manner in which they went unless it is something special or memorable, but will tell you instead about how special each was.

Beast was Beauty’s cage mate.  He came with her when we received them from the Case family in Rigby, ID.  Being a male red-tailed boa, he wasn’t as big as she was; only about 6′ long, but he had way more attitude.  He loved to eat, and in one instance that included trying to eat my hand.  It was partially my fault.  I’d just been playing with the ferrets and Jessica suggested we get out the snakes next.  I reached in and CHOMP, he got me.  It didn’t last long, but he tried to pull me in and I tried to pull away, and if you don’t know, snake’s teeth are thin, sharp and curved and there are a LOT of them.  So after just a second Beast realized I was too big for a meal and let go, but the damage was done.  It felt and looked like I swung my hand into a rose bush.  Jessica, ever sympathetic, was more interested in me describing what it was like than worried about my hand.  The little tooth holes themselves didn’t hurt much, but was did was the huge bruise that formed in the middle of them.  Apparently the two of us pulled so hard it caused my skin to stretch too far.  Needless to say, I was too careful from then on to get bit again.

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Beast didn’t do a lot of shows, for obvious reasons, but he was still a great addition to the “in house” exhibits, as he loved to climb and move around.  For a short time he got to have another roommate, Gaston, who came to us from the Idaho Falls animal shelter.  They’d confiscated him, but lacked the equipment to care for such a large reptile.  For the time that we had all three adult red-tails, it was a spectacular sight to behold.

R.I.P Beauty

IMG_0837-1After my best efforts, and hers as well I’m sure, Beauty passed away sometime between 3:00-4:00 this afternoon.  It was likely that she was just very, very old and there may have been a secondary infection that she just could not kick.  But it was fairly expected that this would be Beauty’s last year so we are at peace with it.  For any of you who are near me, I will probably cry when I talk about her for the next week or so, but I always allow myself to cry.  It is how I show respect for the friendship we had and to let them know that they were loved.

I know that I preach that snakes are almost purely instinctual and don’t posses such social traits as family bonds, kindness and friendship, but I can honestly attest that Beauty was extremely gentle, patient and trustworthy.  She never bit me (or anyone else) even once, which is more than I can say about 90% of the animals that come through the rescue.  People who were scared of snakes and wouldn’t dare touch a tiny corn snake would feel safe touching or even holding her.  Her most requested service was to come do presentations for the pre-schoolers at the college, where she would simply bury her head into the couch or behind my back and let the kids come feel her body and tail.  Beauty was single-handedly (or more accurately no-handedly) responsible for the majority of the success Wildhouse has had in the Rexburg community.

She will be dearly missed.  She goes on to join her boy-friend and cage mate, Beast in reptile heaven, where the sun is always warm and she can eat chicken drumsticks to her heart’s content.  We love you Beauty, and will remember you always.  Goodbye for now.
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Vigil for Beauty

Hello everyone.  Can’t sleep.  Our red-tailed boa and dear friend, Beauty, is not doing very well.  She hasn’t been doing very well for a long time, actually; probably 6 months or more.  We think she’s just really, really old.  She’s had several owners before she came to us, so there’s no way to really tell, but she was full grown when we inherited her almost 6 years ago.  Anyway, this winter she’s turned something into a geriatric patient.  She stopped being interested in food so I’ve had to force-feed her for over half a year now.  I’ve gotten really good at it.  But still, she’s just steadily gotten weaker and weaker.

Last night, around 7:00pm when I was putting Freddy, our parrot, back in his cage she was in full on “dead snake” position; twisted up and lying on her back.  I was sincerely surprised when I checked on her that she was still with us.  I gave her a small bite of food but noticed she felt really dehydrated.  It was entirely plausible that, even though she had a full dish of water, she hadn’t had the strength or interest to drink from it for some time.  So I dissected a generic spray bottle and used the tube as a soft straw and pumped a few gulps of room-temp water into her stomach as well.  Maybe I did too much on my first attempt because I learned that she could selectively “vomit” up her water while retaining her food.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep.  Finally gave up trying about 5:00am.  I got up and gave Beauty another “gulp” of water, which she kept down, and hopefully that helps.  I just couldn’t bear it if she went and I didn’t give it my best effort.  I’m not sure if at this point I’m just prolonging the inevitable or if by some miracle she gets back to a place she’s acceptably healthy again.  She’s been such a fighter in the past and this wouldn’t be her first near-death experience she’s pulled through.  She’s been such a good snake and a good friend, she deserves the best chance I can give her.

Tweets and teasers

Ok, so one of my favorite things to do/share are riddles.  In highschool I would just sit in my room at night reading cards from our family Mind Trap game.  And I realized today that I haven’t really done any in awhile.  So I think that at least every now and then I’m going to share a riddle somewhere in my blog.  So here goes.

Gloria Goodbody opened her own clothing store called “The Wrap”. She wasn’t sure about pricing certain items so she devised her own method. At “The Wrap” a vest costs $20, socks cost $25, a tie costs $15 and a blouse costs $30. Using Gloria’s pricing scheme, how much would a pair of underwear cost?

Now with that out of the way, I’m sure all of your minds are going to be too distracted to pay attention to anything else I write.  But I shall try nontheless.

I participated in a twitter book pitching event today.  It was put on by Jolly Fish Press, a small publishing house based out of Utah.  I met a handful of their representatives last week at LTUE.  Anyway, to participate you have to describe your book in a single tweet.  That means you only get to use 140 characters or less!  It was difficult, but what I came up with was:
The Ten Hands
An unaging girl leads 19th century heroes against ten evil spirits with ownership of her immortal body at stake

I felt it was pretty well done, and I recieved two invitations from the company to send my query letter.  And just so you all know, this was my first hashtag I’ve ever done!  So that’s 3 pubishing companies I am currently attempting to sell my book to.  If any of you know any others you would like to suggest (or Agents too) that would be great!  I really want 2015 to be the year that I get published.

LTUE Day 2: Pitch Sessions and Portland Hats

There was something ominous about approaching what could possibly be some of the most important interviews of my life on a Friday the 13th.  And the curse made a preemptive strike when my best fitting pair of slacks and my snazziest button-up shirt I packed clashed ever so slightly. The girl’s, Jessica and Emily, puzzled over what to do.  But fortunately Jessica’s grandpa, and whom’s house we were staying, knew just what to do.  He reached into his magical time portal (known has his closet) and pulled out a 1960’s grey wool Portland hat.  If you’re not familiar with them, they pretty much transform you into Indiana Jones.  I’m not normally so bold as to wear a gimmick like a hat to a meeting akin to a job interview, but something about this one really worked.

The hat was almost magical, and it succeeded in striking up at least a dozen conversations at the convention, including one with the woman I would be doing my 2:00 pitch session with, Penny Freeman.  Penny is the co-owner of Xchyler Publishing, a fresh, new, 3-year old publishing company for steampunk, fantasy, paranormal and science fiction.  Talking with her and looking over their books on the display table I felt that my story had the potential to fit right in. So when I sat down with her a few hours later for the actual pitch session I was able to skip some of the preliminary introductions and spend more of my precious 10 minutes receiving expert feedback for my book and my pitch.

My second pitch session was with James Wymore with the Curiosity Quills Press.  Maybe it was the practice and advice I had with Penny Freeman or maybe he was just in the mood for some historical paranormal adventure, but I feel that my pitch session went really well.  Mr. Wymore is a chemistry teacher by day (and fearless literary warrior by night!) so I think we found some common ground in our desire to see pseudo-scientific explanations for the supernatural.   Both he and Penny have requested query letters and pages from my manuscript.

2015 LTUE kickoff

Hello to the world! So in pursuit of my future career as an author, I have taken the advice of friends and writing guides and have begun a blog. The final push came after I traveled down to Provo, Utah from Rexburg, Idaho to attend the Writer’s Conference know as Life, the Universe and Everything (LTUE).

I attended LTUE once before in 2013, after completing the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) challenge a few months earlier. My first novel, The Ten Hands, was up to about 80,000 words and I felt close enough to completion to attempt a Pitch session with a publishing company at the conference. Well, though I gave it my best, neither my novel nor myself were fully ready. Though I did not land a big publishing contract at the time, I still enjoyed the conference and had a strong, positive learning experience.

But now I’m back! The Ten Hands is now a solid 105,000 words and I am two years the wiser. With months of anxious preparation overseen by my wife and our close neighbor, Emily Lott (who is also here to pitch her first novel, the Feather Stone), I feel far more prepared. Come on, I DARE you to ask me what my book is about.

Ok, now it will be awkward if I DON’T tell you what it’s about. The Ten Hands is a historical urban fantasy about an 18th century governess who does not age who dares to challenge ten immortal and murderous spirits. There. That’s all you get for now.

I am currently at home after the first day of conference, trying to pour buckets of new knowledge and experience into my tiny cup of long term memory. Thank goodness for pencils and notebooks. I think for the sake of web page tidiness I shall elaborate on my experience in a following post. In closing, I am pumped to start my blogging experience!