To Pittsburgh and back

Many apologies for not filing much in the way of updates lately but breaking my camera and having to send in for a replacement did not help matters much. Plus, I have a few articles coming out in some very nice outlets and I’ve held off posting to wait until at least one of them ran. One was set to run today but at the last minute Friday afternoon, it was delayed until Saturday the 7th. All unbelievably frustrating. The life of the freelancer is often for the birds.

Veeka next to our family cherry tree

Still, I am getting some nice money back on taxes (my tax guy way overestimated what I needed to pay in so I ended up loaning the US government more than $2,000 for six months) so we are solvent for a little while. Have been involved in writing lots of things, planning a birthday party for Miss Veeka (am finally breaking down and having one for her little friends; have managed to avoid doing this but she is turning 7) and of course recovering from the death of our dear Felicity. Haven’t gotten another kitty, as there still remains one: Serenity, age 19, who is crazed as they come. She left another pile of poop in the dining room today and is just generally an all around disagreeable feline these days.

Miss V with her new suitcase

New stuff: we endured 2 months of swimming lessons only to be told Veeka needs to repeat level 1 (!) which disgusted me to no end (not with her but her instructors) so now she’s doing karate on Thursday nights and loving it. At some point need to buy one of those little white karate “gi” uniforms. And last weekend, we went outside the Beltway for the first time in three months to Pittsburgh, where Veeka stayed with friends while I stayed at a B&B in Dilltown, Pa., while attending a meeting of the Appalachian Scholars Association, where I was delivering a paper. Lauren Pond, the photographer with whom I’ve been working on our serpent-handing articles, was also there to display her photos and we got 35 people to come to our session. Which, judging by the attendance at other sessions, was pretty good. I got a bit of hassle from some folks who thought I wasn’t being academic enough. I should have been nastier and reminded them I’m a journalist, not an anthropologist. We may have the last laugh; a publisher’s rep met with us to discuss a possible book so we left there happy.

Veeka and Anna

Veeka was also happy in that she needed separate luggage for the weekend so I gave her an early birthday present: a zebra-striped overnight bag on wheels. She adored it and pranced around the back yard with it and all over the house. She loved being with her friend Anna for the weekend having fun with lots of other kids in the house while her mommy attended boring old meetings.

One more nice thing: Since the beginning of Lent, I’ve been keeping to a new diet known as Fat Flush (see here) and I’m pleased to announce I’ve lost 10 pounds in five weeks, which is darn good for me. My jeans are quite loose and Veeka is happily talking about Mommy not being so fat (!) so maybe there’ll be photos at some point of my new svelte self once the last five pounds have been dispatched with. We’re two-thirds of the way there. And yesterday, Uncle Steve dropped by and took Veeka to the Baltimore Aquarium and gave her a stuffed penguin who looks like Happy Feet. Which is the movie Veeka is watching right now as I write this.