blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I wept.

My son and I spent an afternoon at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center located near Divide, Colorado. Their work and their goals are both simple and incredible and difficult: restore native wolves to their necessary role as a keystone species in the wild.

If you’d like a primer on why this is important, check out the remarkable changes–mostly unexpected benefits–that resulted from re-introducing wolves to Yellowstone.

Part of our visit included a tour of the facility to “meet” the members of their pack. Mexican grey wolves, grey wolves, coyotes, red and swift fox… We had the opportunity to greet them all. While some creatures were of course more shy than others, it was obvious from the animals’ confident posture and, frankly, their willingness to walk away that they felt neither fearful of their human companions nor needful or dominating them.

Then Dev and I had the opportunity to meet some wolves up close and personal. We entered a two-acre enclosure with a pair of guides, took a seat among the trees, and waited to see if the wolves were interested in us.

Two of the three were. The third, I swear, snorted and rolled her eyes before trotting off to ignore us from a distant. She’s not all that interested in humans.

But her packmates, Kekoa and Keyni, are.

Wolves are big–not silly “big bad wolf” big, but big enough to make their wishes and presence known. They most certainly are not dogs in wild clothing; they are distinctly different in temperament and behavior. Sure, the wolf was happy to have a backscratch… but don’t try to ruffle the ears or snuggle closely. And when a domesticated pupper might come when called even if she doesn’t want to, a wolf is so extremely not interested in such human-centric niceties.

Kekoa gave me a few wolf kisses, but it was Keyni who nudged him aside to straddle my lap and nuzzle closer any moment I paused in my petting and scratching.  Kekoa did indeed love my son, and did not want to wander far from him.  And Keyni was more than happy to pose for final pictures once he scented the hunk of raw beef in my hand.

(Note: The pics can be seen here.  I've spent now 45 minutes attempting to upload pictures and links to LJ, and it's really not interested in them. I've decided my new rule is 15 minutes spent battling for basics before moving on.)

In the middle of all of it, we humans made an attempt at howling. The wolves obliged us with a response, with the coyotes joining in, and the calls and answers went on for minutes, echoing through the trees, and I stood there and wept knowing that I, for just a few moments, was part of it.

WHEW!

May. 19th, 2016 09:49 am
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Five days ago, I mentioned to Facebook friends that I had a book release, two self-defense articles, and a website content project (for another client, not for me) all coming in the next month, and would be topping it off by heading to 4th Street Fantasy Convention.

This meant I didn't take time to read through and respond to any SFWA message board info, nor jump in to prod and/or propose and/or complete myself any SFWA committee business. Instead, I knuckled down on work that puts money in my pocket--necessary, since I've no pockets but my own from which to fund this life of mine--and did life-things like shared dinner with my son, attended my nephews' community theater performance, and scouted the local farmer's market.

And you know what?

I feel guilty today, because I didn't dive into conversations for less than a week.

There is something wrong with that.

I've written often about the importance of prioritizing one's life work, and about how my choice to self-publish is one way I support my priorities. I write on it and speak on it because I do things like... like feel guilty for not doing volunteer work in addition to everything else. I write on it, and speak on it, because I need the reminders myself.

Really, I know it's silly of me. I know, realistically, that anyone who wants to bitch about a few days' absence isn't worth my time. Not that anyone IS bitching, mind you. For heaven's sake, no one has any reason to NOTICE my absence, let alone give any time COMPLAINING about it!

So... it's my internal voice doing all the bitching. The voice that shouldn't be worth my time! The voice that tells me, always, I ought to be doing more, helping more, achieving more, connecting more, sharing more. It's a nasty, nasty internal voice, and I do wish I knew where it came from. I didn't come from a family that invested huge amounts of time and energy as volunteers. I was the family member always trying to get everyone else to show up at the soup kitchen, or sell things door-to-door for a cause, or .

Nope, this one can't be blamed on family dynamics or life's challenges. This is a quirk, an oddity, a damaging trait that's all mine. And it's damned annoying, knowing it's there, and knowing each time the self-talk I need to do to counter it, and knowing it'll pop back up regardless.

And you know what? Now I'm worried about posting this, because I took the time to write it rather than read through the discussions I missed.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Unlike Indiana, Colorado requires emissions testing of all vehicles--which is a good thing on one hand, because the wind patterns around Denver can smoosh tons of smoggy ick up against the mountains, and a not-so-great thing on the other hand because the rules often turn such enterprises into fee machines.

But anyway.

My 2007 Hyundai fell into the "must be tested" category because it was manufactured before 2009. The time a tech spent checking my car might have stretched all the way to five minutes, for which I paid $25. Then the tech noticed my out-of-state plate and informed me I also had to have my VIN officially verified. The verification process apparently consisted of the tech copying the VIN visible through the windshield into the appropriate field on a computer form. That cost me $20.

So, $45 to get my car registered in the state, and I haven't found out yet how much the registration would cost.

I poked around online to find a registration cost estimator that asked for make, model, and year of the vehicle, and the current MSRP. Umm...? I had no idea. A quick look-see at cars for sale gave me a general idea. With that information, the online estimator spit out guess of $293. That's about three times what my Indiana registration was! Alas, said Indiana registration expired at the end of December, so I didn't have much choice if I wanted to keep driving.

This is where I paused to look up what Colorado does if your registration is out of date. As far as I can tell, they give you a thirty days of grace, then give you a ticket. In Indiana, if your registration tags aren't up to date and you don't have proof of payment (meaning your tags are in the mail to you), your car will be towed from that location.* It's up to you to get home.

But I didn't want a ticket, so down to the DMV I traipsed.

Wait, no. That's what I would have done had adequate DMV information been available online. Instead, I had to visit three different government websites to find out what I needed to bring in transfer the registration, uncover which DMV locations would process the title (because some locations offer only limited services), then cross reference whether the appropriate location was in my county. This is harder than it sounds because there is no list online that I could find. There is instead a map showing all locations. The map doesn't include county boundaries, so you have to keep clicking on locations to find both county and services. Oh, and not all the services are listed.

And... I got it wrong on the first try. A thirty minute drive to the north resulted in the discovery that the location was actually closed. A very nice security guard gave me a paper map showing the other open locations and what services those locations provided. It was, in fact, the very helpful information that was not online.

And... my best bet was to go to from northeast Denver metro to the far south side of the metro. Awesome.

Off I went. I walk inside just as the security guard is taping a note to the check-in kiosk. All credit and debit card processing is offline, so payments must be made in check or cash. Such are the two methods of payment I am most unlikely to have if the bill exceeds ten bucks. The guard assures me it won't be a problem because they'll go ahead with processing the registration while I run out to the local ATM.

But first I must wait my turn, of course, and must check in twice. The first number is for the title and registration. The second is for transferring my license. My numbers are 130 and 87. They call 117 and 75. I settle in to wait.

About half an hour later, the man sitting behind me hands me his ticket because he has to get back to work. His number is 123--the number called not ten minutes later. Hooray!

The registration process goes smoothly, with only one oddity: the clerk asked if I had a fulltime job when I moved here. I didn't answer right away because to me, that means 35-40 hours a week working for someone else. Me, I'm self-employed. When I told her so, she said, "That means you're fulltime, and that makes you a resident." So... if you're staying in Colorado for a bit, and someone pays you on a contract basis, you're apparently a resident because you collected money while in the state. Go figure.

Then the moment I've been dreading: paying up almost $300 for my little Hyundai.

She tells me the registration in under $100. I sat there for a moment, waiting for her to add something else. But no, that's the whole thing. I don't ask for explanation. I check my place in the license-line, and had just enough time to run out to an ATM and return before my second number is called.

The license transfer went without a hitch, though it was odd to be handed off to a second clerk who drilled me on all the answers I'd given the second clerk as if seeking a discrepancy that would necessitate the SWAT team. And it was a good thing I had to take out cash for the registration anyway because all license fees are supposed to be paid in check or cash--never credit or debit. Man, you'd think I was at a bake sale rather than a government office!

I'll spare you the additional details of how new holes had to be drilled in my front bumper to accommodate the second license plate. It's all done now, the car looks lovely with its Rocky Mountain plates, and we wait only in anticipation for what horrible picture the state shall inflict upon me when my new license arrives.

And I guess I'll carry around a little extra cash. Just in case.



*This is an example of poverty begetting poverty. If you're paycheck to paycheck, or got laid off, or had an unexpected expense that devoured your car registration funds, you now cannot get to work or transport your children without the threat of incurring hundreds of dollars in towing and impound fees. And if you can't pay those fees and the registration, you will lose your car altogether. And then, perhaps, your job. It's quite the little racket--one of many in Indiana. Ask my about hypnotherapy sometime. And don't even get me started on the liquor laws!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
To all of you celebrating a holiday and Holy Day today, I wish you contentment and peace.

With all the rest of our family in Denver, and the solitary folks we usually invited to join our holiday having also moved away, Dev and I are on our own for Thanksgiving. He and I planned a fairly simple and standard menu--turkey, latkes, roasted squash with maple glaze, broccoli, cranberry sauce. I offered all sorts of pies and cakes and sweets as potential desserts. Dev asked for chocolate chip cookies. Sure, why not?

Every year, I am thankful above all to have been granted the challenge of raising my son. He has increasingly taken on the behaviors of a young man over the last year--pitching in more around the house, taking on responsibilities at work, managing his own schedule, being responsive to the emotions and such of the people around him. I still have to kick him into gear at times, and--like the rest of us--he'd rather play than work, but it's nothing in the whole scheme of things. He's a good kid.

He'll have to pop into work late this evening to help prepare for tomorrow, then he works every day of the long weekend. He's rather excited about it because he's not only eligible for sales commissions this year, he has refined his skills to the point of winning a regional sales award. He is already planning what to do with his holiday pay: Xbox One, video camera, new microphone... and more of that darned auto insurance, of course. :)

Me, I'll be writing.

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