Monday, July 12, 2010

WHOOOOSH!! RE-Entry Shock!

Hi everyone! I apologize profusely for being absent for so long. Things have been crazy to say the least!

I have been with you in spirit, however.

I got back from Colorado the day before I did my event in Palos Verdes, which went amazingly well. Then I was re-united with my dog, Fiona, who, believe it or not, had grown visibly while I was gone. These dogs grow slowly over a 2 year period and it never fails to surprise me after I’ve been away for awhile. This was the longest I had ever been away from her. Two months!

The Colorado working “vacation” was not really a vacation, but it was a lovely change of pace. Being up in the forest where it’s so quiet that we would go to the window to see who was passing when we heard the footsteps of people walking on the road below, was so restful. I always do so much better, healthwise, when I’m at a high altitude (in this case, 9,000 ft), and when I’m surrounded by wildlife.

This was a writing vacation, and I got a lot done. Also, it was a series of meetings with my attorney, and we squared away the Barn Owl Alliance paperwork for the 501(c)3. There was a lot to do besides that but I won’t bore you with the details.

After I did the event in Palos Verdes (where I met a few of you blog readers and alliance members!), I returned home and immediately left again with my dog so I could fumigate the house. The hamsters are at a babysitter’s, so it was the first time in years that I had a chance to fumigate, which needed to be done because the hammsters’ food sometimes contains seed moths, which are very tiny moths that become real pests in time.

The key to avoiding seed moths is to freeze the food for at least 24 hours before opening it. I usually buy my hamster food at a place that does this for the customer in advance, but I made the mistake of buying hamster food at one of the big chains a couple of times and was suddenly inundated w/ little moths. Ugh. The situation was beyond the point where I could just catch and release them, which would have been my preference.

So, Fiona and I stayed away for a few days after that.

Finally, however, I returned home.

Every time I return from the mountains – any mountains – I get what I call “re-entry shock”. I crash. My body has to adjust again to the high air pressure of sea level (at high altitudes, I do so much better. There seems to be less pressure on my brain and I have a lot less symptoms, hence the migraines are much fewer and lower in intensity)> When I get back the migraines hit like they’ve been waiting for their revenge and I’m just laid out for weeks with one migraine after another.

The heat also doesn’t help. When it’s hot, ones’ blood vessels dialate, which also contributes to my migraines. I’m just not made for hot weather, and the Colorado mountains are nice and cool in the summer and even cooler in the winter. I literally have gotten out of the car in 40 degree weather, wearing a tank top and shorts, and rolled in a snow bank to cool off. It’s ridiculous!

Other people are wearing coats and hats and I’m still in summer clothes. So coming back to the heat of S. California is just a shock to the system.

Add to all this the smog, traffic, the crush of people, and the complete lack of anything even resembling nature, and the picture is complete.

Hence, I’ve been sick ever since I got back, mostly sleeping right under the direct flow of the air conditioning.

Also, getting online around here is also difficult – I definitely need to get wireless.

All this to say, I have not been online for a couple of weeks, and I do apologize for my absence!

This does NOT mean that I’ve become any less passionate about the Barn Owl Alliance or the blog or anything else, though!

I’ve got a few projects going on that are also going to take some of my time, but the barn owl alliance goes forward. I’m hoping that all the data that you lovely people have been amassing is complete enough for me to start acting on it.

I think the next step is to take that data and have a sit-down meeting with Nancy Conney and perhaps Tom Stephan and try to come up with the ideal parameters for an owl box with a branching system. Tom has experimented with a branching system that worked (the one on Owlivia and Owliver’s box), and a few other people have also devised systems. Perhaps there can be some flexibility if the regulations are written correctly.

I would like to not only come up with a list of parameters w/ Nancy and Tom but would also like to work with Nancy to contact the right regulators and begin discussions with them. The data that we’ve collected will help in making our case.

Please be patient with me on this! I have a lot going on and have to pace myself in all these other projects as well as this one, but I am persistent, if nothing else! Doggedly so!

I’ve hired an assistant who is really a publicist - Keith Malone. He is a long time dear friend. We’ve been friends since the 4th grade and have done many projects together from lab experiments to being on the school newspaper together to being in the International and the Spanish clubs in school to going to the same college even! We’ve even done some writing together.

You might notice that sometimes Keith will put updates on the Wesley the Owl facebook or twitter, or that he’ll occasionally speak for me. That’s fine. He’s on the board for the Barn Owl Alliance and I trust him implicitly!

Because of Keith, the Wesley the Owl facebook page is now active again and you can refer to it for updates about my schedule. The website is not up to date with schedules because Wendy still has charge of that and she’s so busy with her new book and the deadlines involved that Keith is going to be taking that over eventually. But all in good time.

I wanted to let you know that I’ll be speaking and signing books in San Diego on Thursday, July 15. It’s not my usual talk about my life w/ Wesley, however, because it’s for a group of editors. The talk will be more about the editing process, the assembling of a team,, the importance of good editing, and even some of the nuts and bolts techniques I used in editing my book.

I’ll be teaching a workshop on editing and also a workshop on book and chapter structure in September at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in Newport Beach. Obviously, this is tailored for writers who are serious about getting published and would not be of interest to most of my readers, but I thought I’d just mention it. I may also be doing an Audubon event in September in Los Angeles, but it’s not confirmed yet.

Anyway, that’s the update. I just wanted to let you know I haven’t disappeared from your lives or lost interest in the least! I’ve just been busy, overwhelmed w/ projects, and then sick for awhile as I adjusted to the hot, crowded, California environment. Sigh. I guess we can’t live in paradise all the time, right? California is pretty darn good, actually, so I’m not complaining!

Thanks for your concern and patience!

Sincerely,
Stacey O’Brien

PS: The book was recently translated into Hungarian! Wow! I’m amazed at the exotic languages into which it’s been translated. So far we have
English – American
English – Great Britain (the British Isles, Australia, NZ. Canada)
Chinese mainland – both Mandarin and Cantonese
Taiwan
Korean
Italian
German
Portuguese (Brazil)
Polish
And now Hungarian!

It’s also available in large print and as a book on CD.

The German version was recently featured in the German Readers’ Digest and published as a Readers’ Digest Condensed book and was featured in their biggest womens’ magazine.

In Italy, there was a beautiful article in their national newpaper’s weekly magazine w/ gorgeous color pictures.

And in Brazil it was featured in the national newspaper, O Globo. O Globo is also my publisher in Brazil.

I happen to speak Brazilian Portuguese (although it’s very rusty) because the first child I ever sponsored through Compassion International was from Brazil. I wanted to be able to really communicate with her, so I learned Brazilian Portuguese and got permission to call the school and center to talk to her! I’d call and they’d run up the road to get her and we’d talk for hours sometimes. The first time we talked, they didn’t know to hang up the phone after the conversation and just dropped it where it was. The connection stayed alive for hours but thankfully I wasn’t charged for all that time! The ability to speak with her directly was so important as she grew into a young woman and had no one to advise her about certain things. It was a joy to know her through knowing her language!

One of the things that the book supports is sponsorship of kids caught in the deep cycle of poverty. Sponsorship pays for their schooling, medical care, nutrition, parenting programs for their parents, practical lessons on hygienic practices such as boiling the water before drinking it, also drilling wells for clean water, dental, vocational training, and for those who show promise, college education. There is also a psychological/spiritual component that has to do with overcoming the hopeless self image that’s propogated by the society in which the kids live, which tells them that they are worthless and just trash. This is not true, and they are told that each and every one of them is precious and worthy and full of potential and possibility. They aren’t used to hearing these things in the slums where they live.

Obviously I’m passionate about sponsoring kids! I’ve checked out this organization thoroughly and know that the money is going where it’s supposed to be going! I’ve seen so many kids transformed over the years that it keeps me going, keeps me humble, and keeps me from thinking I’ve got it so bad w/ the migraines and such. When a person is in the kind of wretched poverty that these kids have endured, there is no medical care for anyone in their community. I feel lucky that I have access to doctors, etc.

I know I’m rambling a bit, but for me, having the book contribute to these kids as well as to other groups such as Saint Jude Hospital and wildlife organizations gives me a much bigger vision for why I want to continue to keep the book going. It’s not just about me, it’s about what kind of legacy of hope I can contribute to through the book. THAT is something I can get excited about!

And now the Barn Owl Alliance, too! It’s all so inspiring!

Thank you all so much for being a part of this and, again, for your patience!

What I’m reading:

Born to Bark by Stanley Coren – it’s not out yet but will be soon. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotswinkle: A silly spoof, in the tradition of Being There, about the world of publishing.

26 comments:

wess_liana said...

Whew!! So glad to hear from you Stacey, I'm sorry for your re-entry ordeal. When you mentioned you were on your way home from CO, I actually wondered if that was what was happening. I've had migraines myself over the years and totally understand about air pressure and temperature changes. I hope you're feeling better now. I'm sure Fiona was just as glad to see you, too! Those who don't share their lives with animal friends just can't understand the joy and blessings they bring :) We've just added another one to our home! I rescued a beautiful little 7 yo Doxie girl, who'd spend at least the last two years of her life locked inside a garage... she doesn't leave my side and seems to be trying to make up for all the love she missed out on... I'm more than happy to oblige!

Good things are happening with the BOA, too! One thing in particular that I'm excited about is that Charlotte has been rounding up all sorts of wonderful photography! She's blessed with a wonderful rapport with the photographers and has been getting "unlimited rights permission" from the artists to use their work for our cause!

So glad you checked in, Stacey! It's good to hear from you! Continued good luck with your writing and PLEASE take care of yourself! Luv ya!
hugs,
Liana

Victoria B said...

Stacey darling, seems to me that you should be moving yourself to Colorado where your body likes it better. Could that be a possibility for you?

Glad that you're coming out of the gloom, and wish I were closer to give you a hand.

Take care,
Love & Peace, Victoria

吳婷婷 said...
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PaulaP said...

Stacey, it is good to hear from you but we are sorry that you have so much difficulty with the altitude adjustment. It is nice that there is a place that you can go where your symptoms are better.

I am anxious to see what design develops for the boxes. I have been watching the Nicasio nest and even the minor additions of branches were useful to the owlets. The cost of these adjustments was minimal. Other systems are more costly but I bet there is a happy medium that can be worked out.

Living in WI, I still don't know how I can help the BOA, but if there are some tasks that might work out, I am game for them.

Emily said...

Dear Stacey,

I recently read your book and I want to thank you for your life-affirming story! I am the Teaching Assistant for a course at UC Davis called Animals and Human Culture, in the Humanities Program. Wesley the Owl is required reading, and the students are reading it now. Today I took my discussion section to the California Raptor Center here in Davis, where we saw and "adopted" an injured barn owl. Your story really resonated with me and I think with countless others too because you were able to articulate and affirm the beauty and sacredness of animal-human relationships that we are so fortunate to experience. Most of all, I think people's consciousness all over the world is becoming more and more sensitive to and in-tune to animals, and the popularity of your book is a tribute to this. Thank you again!
Sincerely,

Emily

Janet said...

Hey Stacey!! Good to see you back! Your necklace is on my Blog! But you have to go back a few enterys and youll see it..Wear it in wonderful happiness! Take good care of yourself...:-) (Stacey click on my name here to go to my blog btw..if you didnt know..)

雲亨雲亨雲亨 said...
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姿柯瑩柯dgdd憶曾g智曾 said...
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宮惠如宮惠如 said...
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宮惠如宮惠如 said...
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佳瑩佳瑩 said...

文章不求沽名釣譽,率性就是真的..................................................................

Annette said...

Dear Stacey,

I just found your website today so it looks like I have an awful lot of catching up to do! But I thought I'd let you know.... that in a small little village, in the south western tip of the United Kingdom, on a surprisingly hot summer's afternoon, a magazine was picked out of a rack of dated magazines. This magazine rack holds magazines a year old and older! But they can't be thrown away because one day they'll be read, because "one day I'll have time".

The magazine in question was "You" (a sunday paper supplement) from July 2009 had a piece about a pretty lady and a precious owl. The piece was read aloud by the woman to her husband as they sat in the garden far, far away from you, and they both cried as the story touched their hearts.

Thank you for sharing your relationship and your hard times, I'm not prone to writing to authors, another thing on my "lists to do" but I wanted to simply say "hello" and to wish you good health and deserved happiness.

It looks as if you have a lovely and caring fan base here. You're a very brave lady.

Much Love,
Annette West
Devon, UK
xxx

吳彥宇 said...

文章這麼好,怎麼可以不踩!............................................................

swamericana said...

Stacey,

I've just read your book and have found it riveting. I've read your last post about your migraines and having "re-entry shock." My wife and I live on 53 acres in west Texas and have horses and animals, wild and domesticated, of all sorts. The zebra finches you wrote about in your book -- my mother used to raise them. I read also that you give a lot of yourself to good causes, fine causes and that carries through with the your book and the personality that emerged there. I recently had a colt, stallion really, that I sold to a fine rancher in Missouri. Shiney is his name. I have a post on Shiney on my blog, "Running with Shiney," that may interest you. I joined with him and he with me for the brief time I had him. He taught me much about horses.

Again, I enjoyed and I sobbed at Wesley and your loss. But, I had rather have animals in my life and endure the anguish of losing than not having them at all. I'm a steward of my keep and shall always be there for them.

Thank you for your prose.

I hope you get to feeling better.

(Jack Matthews, Sage to Meadow Blog)

張v李佳羽嘉旺 said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.......................................................................

又瑞許又瑞許又瑞許 said...

這個部落格好好好~棒棒棒.................................[/url]...............

敬周喜 said...

愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。.................................................................

家唐銘 said...

從來名利地,皆起是非心。.....................................................

怡涂涂涂均 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention.......................................................................

承楊芸承楊芸承楊芸 said...

心平氣和~祝你也快樂~~..................................................

翊翊翊翊張瑜翊翊翊 said...

真正的朋友不會把友誼掛在嘴巴上......................................................................

彬彬哲宇 said...

唯有用熱情、用智慧去觀察事物,這事物才會把他的秘密,洩漏給我們......................................................................

said...

要持續更新下去喲!!期待~~............................................................

latte to tea said...

How about Japanese? I would like my family and friends in Japan to read your wonderful story. Please!

renard said...

Hi, Stacey... I know you're busy, but I thought you and your BOA might be interested in this new owl box that just hit the market yesterday. I have no idea if it meets the standards a box should have, but thought you guys might want to check it out. Here's the url [ http://mollytheowlbooks.com/store/mollys-mansion-owlbox-kit-us-shipping-only.html ]
Hope you post to your blog again soon.

Jackie

Sally said...

Stacey,
I enjoyed reading about your experience with Wesley so very much.
What a lovely story.
Can't wait for the sequel!
;o)
~ Sally