Wednesday, October 6, 2010

i'm really here, if you are...

Hi! If anyone is still watching for this blog, after my severe neglect of several months, THANK YOU! I've been on a LOONNNGGG retreat, away from the internet and all the emotion and noise it can generate. I never do very well in the summer with my health, and this summer was no exception. The heat just ruins me and it's one migraine after another, and when there's no migraine, I'm recovering from the exhaustion of having had so many migraines in a row. Not that I'm complaining. I know I'm lucky to live in the USA where there is so much opportunity and comfort. It's ridiculous to even think about complaining when you're lying on a comfortable bed with enough to eat and a roof over your head. So I'm not. I'm just explaining why I haven't been getting on the internet. I did go on a long retreat, also, and when I do that, I never say when I'm going to do it or where I'm going or for how long. I've always had that tendency. And while I can no longer trek off into the high sierras alone at a whim, I can still disappear like I used to do, and think and sleep and think some more.

I've been thinking about the Barn Owl Alliance and all the work that you guys have been doing. Charlotte has been keeping me updated through Keith Malone. I haven't given up on that at all, it's just that a person can only do so much, and can only do one thing at a time, at least this person can only do so many things at one time. When I was younger and healthier I could do everything all at once, or at least I thought I could. It's an illusion of the young, I think.

I'm still on a retreat, esconced in a random hotel for now, dealing with my hamster having major surgery. This hotel allows animals and has mondo air conditioning, which is the main reason I'm here. We had the hottest days ever in recorded history in the past couple of weeks and I just couldn't stand it, even with the air conditioning on at home. California homes, even nice ones, are not built with insulation in mind. The feeling is that things never really get all that bad - heatwise or coldwise, so there's no need to get all excited about details like insulation, so a lot of the heat or air conditioning goes right out the sides of the windows, under the doors, through the mail slots. No one really worries about "drafts" in winter either. Unless they're way up in the mountains where it counts for something.

Anyway, I do apologize for being rather impossible to reach via the internet. On the other hand, I think the internet can be very invasive, so I have mixed feelings about it. But I had established a lot of contacts and feel bad about just dropping off the face of the earth. I do tend to do that, as I said, though.

I'm writing another book, now, so a lot of the writing energy that I would have been using on the blog is now being used for the book. I'm deep in the rough draft right now.

I adhere to the Steven King method, as he explains in his book, "On Writing". I didn't KNOW I adhered to his method until I read the book and thought, "Wow, that's exactly how I do it, too." Not that it's rocket science - few things are.

There are only so many ways to go about it, right? The first thing I do is what I call "Making the fabric", where the finished quilt would be the book. Before you make a quilt, you have to go out and buy yards and yards of fabric, some of this, some of that...if you're not really sure how it's going to look yet, you end up buying a lot of fabric that will not make it into the quilt at the end, but you may take some pieces from each of the fabrics for the final quilt. But you can't put pieces together if there is no fabric to mess around with in the first place. Making the fabric - or the first draft - is done in private, almost in secrecy.

I just let my subconscious run in all kinds of directions, free-flowing. And I'm often surprised by what my subconscious is up to when I see it on the page. It'll take me a while to get all of that out. With the first book, I wrote 400 pages single spaced.. using a font sized 12, Times Roman.

When I went back to the raw fabric to pull the book together, I cut a ton of that, about half of that ended up in the book.

This time it's taking me longer to write the rough draft, since w/ Wesley the Owl, I wrote the first draft in a passionate whirlwind after he died. It's how I processed my grief. This book is being written under a lot less duress, although my passion for my subject is keen.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, please be patient. I may not be the blogger I used to be during this time of writing, because my writing energy will be channeled into the new book.

Today has been intense because my hamster, Maizie, had major surgery to remove a huge cancerous mass that was wrapped around her femur, and she had to have that taken out, plus reconstruction of her muscles around the femur they could save, and they had to amputate the rest of her leg. She was otherwise just fine and healthy, so it was worth it to take this out and let her go on living her life. She clearly has a very strong will to live and wasn't letting the cancer get in her way. But it was becoming very painful and slowing her down. Now she's in recovery and on very strong pain medications. The vet, my hero, Dr. Coward, is taking her home for the night so he can keep monitoring her. This guy is really amazing. He gets so involved with his patients - even a tiny gray hamster like my little Maizie, who I adore.

So I'm going to be worrying about her - I can't help it.

Well, I'll try to blog more often now, and again, sorry for the long absence! I hope you all had a great summer!



Laura Beth said...

Hi Stacey :)

I read through your blog awhile ago and just came back today to see if there was anything new! Hooray!

I've loved owls for as long as I can remember (no really, I got excited about owls when I was a toddler) and I was so happy to read your book and to have you commenting on The Owl Box on Ustream for awhile (as someone who actually knows things about owls).

So yes, I'm reading!

I volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Indiana, and I was recently allowed to join the raptor team. Interacting with owls up close and personal is an amazing experience! I don't have a background in biology or anything (my fields are linguistics, sociology, library science, and student affairs, so yeah, not much relation there) but I am learning so much. Reading about your Wesley is helping me understand a lot about our ambassador barn owl and the ones we rehabilitate for release! So, thank you and I look forward to your next book!


Arty Em, Creativity Traveler said...

I loved the first book so much, I have mentioned it often to everyone I know! I didn't know much about owls before I read it, then I had the chance to go to an owl sanctuary in Cumbria last June - a bunch of photos I took showed up in my collages - you can see some here:

anyway - can't wait for the next book, do protect your health and know you have loyal patient fans who will wait until your timing is right.

Ter-o-fla said...

Dear Stacey,
Good to see you are all right and still around. Thank you for writing again.


JanisKPC said...

Hi Stacey, I just wanted to thank you for "Wesley the Owl". I enjoyed almost every word. (Okay, the mouse guts on the floor part was a little rough...) Your story about your time with Wesley was amazing....especially the fact that you were filled with that energy to write the story after he passed. I have never had the pleasure of knowing an owl even though I have lived in rural settings. I have rescued a variety of birds, helped feral cats, and have been a mom to a number of fur kid pooches. I guess what I am trying to say, that as unique as your story is with Wesley, I felt a kinship with your story - it's about loving/understanding and having mutual respect for other living beings. I put together a website when my first fur kid pooch died. I don't even know how I did it but like you, it helped me cope with the grief. I have lost three fur kids since that time, and although it never gets easier, I just don't have the fire to give them each such a tribute. I am sorry and sad that you continue to have health issues. I wish you well. Thanks again for sharing your relationship with sweet Wesley with the rest of the world.
Hugs, Janis, Palm Desert, CA
Here is the website I made for Makena, over 10 years ago. The poem that is quoted was on the calendar for the day she died.

Patti said...

Hi Stacey! I was just at Wesley's web site and popped over here. Just finished reading your book. I cried, cry everytime I think of Wesley. I grew up on a farm in north eastern colorado and animals/birds/reptiles were my best friends. I only saw small owls, who were afraid of me until one afternoon as I was walking back to play with the baby piglets, and noticed something white in a big Chinese elm tree. It was a pure white owl. He was huge, about 12-14 inches from the branch he sat on to the top of his head. We stood there for a long time, staring at each other until my brother, the great white hunter, came over to see what I was looking at. He ran off to get his gun and selfishly, I stole 30 seconds more to look at the most beautiful bird I've ever seen, but when I tried to scare him away so my brother couldn't shoot him, he wouldn't fly. I panicked and picked up a small stone and thew it at the branch he sat on, but he just sat there, looking at me. My brother ran up with the rifle and as he loaded it I jumped up and down, shouting. I desperately wanted the owl to live. Finally, I threw a large twig at him, right at him, and he flew away. From reading your book, I realize that he was probably just as curious about me as I, him. That was the only time I ever saw the white owl.
You are so blessed to have had Wesley in your life and I loved that your grandmother had an owl, too. What a treasure.


Anonymous said...

Stacey, I'm so grateful to hear you're well enough to write a little on your blog again! Please don't worry about being anything or anybody but who you are... no matter what anyone else might want you to be.
You could be bitter and miserable about the challenges you live with every day, but in your loving and compassionate nature you remind us instead that there are people in the world who have no bed to lay on... no roof over their head. Most of us will never experience that OR the crushing pain you deal with daily. The miracle to me is not only that you deal with that with such grace, but that in the midst of it you care so deeply for the smallest of creatures in distress. How big is a heart that does all in its power to keep even the tiniest of treasured friends from suffering? Bigger than any heart I know.
God bless you Stacey. I hope you and your little friend feel better every day.

Victoria said...

What a pleasant surprise to see a new blog! I have looked here almost every day to see if you were feeling well enough to write. I am happy you are surviving.

As Maizyb said, take all the time you need for yourself. Those of us in the trenches will still be there.


Janet said...

Aww Stacey its so great to see that you let your fans know how you are doing. You have alot on your we will see you when you can write!

Your hamster is so fortunate because most wouldnt of had a 2nd chance like that..Bless you!

Will be looking forward to your second book! Hope you are getting to wear the Necklace I made and sent you!

Janet oxo

Dadu said...

Good to see another post from you. The Barn Owl Alliance is poised to spring into action when you are ready. Glad you are able to write your book right now. Take care.

Annie Marie said...

Dear Stacey,
I've been wanting to contact you for some time now and of course I'm terrible with words and they will never be able to describe how I feel, but I've been working and photographing at a wildlife care center in Washington State. The work has been receiving a lot of attention, awards and grants towards more conservation projects, it's so exciting, even a picture coming up in the Nov National Geographic in Visions of i'm in the process of writing the forward to my upcoming book and oh boy am I a terrible writer, just hard to describe the intense feelings I feel towards these animals.....and I just wanted to say that you have expressed this human animal relationship so eloquently in Wesley, I was balling this morning finishing your book, it is a very familiar feeling I experience with a raven at the center who came as a 2 year old and we bonded intensely, a relationship like I've never had before.....anyways, I hope we can talk through email or phone or meet someday, please check out my photo project called Finding Trust at and please stay in touch!!!!!!
Annie Marie Musselman

Cybee said...

Glad to see you online again. I do understand about your "disappearance". I have suffered from migraines but certainly not to the extend you do. However, I do know the pain. It is draining. However, glad that cooler weather is going to make things better for you now.
Was it just last February or so that I first read your Wesley book and so enjoyed it. I learned a lot about barn owls. Best of luck on your book and I do think you made a difference in making a lot of people more aware of owl box safety issues, and owl issues in general! Hats off to you, Stacey.

Anonymous said...

Hello stacey! I recently completed an assignment in English Class where we had to write a speech about a topic in the style of Martin Luther King. I wrote about Owls as inspired by Wesley, and I thought you might like to read it :)
“The wise old owl sat in an oak”
My dear Mongwaus, as it is said in the Native American language of Hopi, there is an issue that many of you constantly hear in your day to day lives. It is an issue many of you perhaps do not know what to do about, perhaps do not hear about, perhaps do not care about. But it is an issue that you may soon be passionate about if you open your hearts to the way of the owl. The issue is of environmental protection and conservation, to fight passionately with heart and soul for the health of our ecosystem.
“The more he saw, The less he spoke.”
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” (Thomas Fuller) the well is almost dry. The forest is almost dry of its owls that vitalize it with magnificence. These days in Connecticut owls do not live beyond the three to four years human development has limited its precious life to. These days their homes are torn down and developed into mini malls and white paneled town houses. The loss of our farms, the loss of precious habitat, the poisoning of the rodents on which owls feed and provide for their young. The human disturbance as a whole is reducing the population of our barn owls in the state of Connecticut. A forested landscape without an owl is like a huge painting with a great many interesting little details on it, but no real subject, nothing to draw your attention, nothing to make you gasp in wonder and swoon in delight.

“The less he spoke, the more he heard”.
In my next life I hope to be reincarnated as a Connecticut owl. To be born from my egg, free of the constraints of time, from the constraints of human greed and desire (The Egg, Andy Weir). I will be fed and groomed by my owl mother, learn to fly with my owl brothers and sisters, ascend into the sky unwasted by human touch, descend into the forests similarly unwasted. I will live in the peaceful harmony and equality that is the forest as it was when it arose from Mother Nature’s soil. Whether or not this life for owls is of the past or of the future is up to us.
“Why can't we be like, that wise old bird?” (Wise Owl, anonymous)
My dear “Naschas,” as it is said in the Native American language of Navajo. To save the owl is to fight passionately so that forevermore our children, and their children, and their children, all of their friends can enjoy the majesty of this feathered spirit. That is why we must work now to stop man’s greed and progress towards a better future for our owls and the environment; we must demand a stop to the developments, a stop to the desecration of habitats, a stop to the pesticides. It is then that we will preserve the owls place in this state for future generations of human life, the appreciation of nature, and the future ecology of this beautiful state of Connecticut. “There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.” (~Mohandas K. Gandhi)

Reina said...

Dear Stacy,

My name is Mike Robson.

I have been doing some research on humanist books published about birds and your amazing and heartwarming story about your relationship with Wesley was my biggest hit. Your experience as a biologist coupled with the intensely personal experience developing a deep emotional bond with Wesley mirrors some personal experiences of my own with animals.

As a licensed falconer I have spent many hours working with birds of prey, including assisting a game warden in rescuing a confiscated barn owl from a poacher.

But this is not why I am sending this to you. I started my research because I have been working on a project telling my story about rescuing a blind, featherless baby crow that had been inadvertently knock from its nest by tree trimmers. Despite my greatest fears, the bird did survive and developed into a beautiful black crow, which eventually returned to the wild.

I did not read your book until I started doing research on the marketability of my story about "Lucky." When I came across "Wesley the Owl" I was amazed at the similarities there were in the experience. However, Lucky's wing was not damaged allowing him the option to return to the wild when the time was appropriate. He was with us for six months before he gradually reverted back to the wild. Although, Lucky was with us for a relatively short period of time, the memories of the time and our relationship with him are still felt today, 14 years later.

I know you are busy and have many things on your mind that must consume much of your valuable energy. I thought you might be interested considering the similarities in our stories. "Lucky" is presently about 50,000 words and I have actual photographs to supplement the readers experience.

Any insights, comments and collaboration in publishing my story would be greatly appreciated.

I can be contacted,
phone: 909-816-9825

Thank You.

Mike Robson

PaulaP said...

Stacey, it is good to hear from you. Please accept my warmest regards and hopes that you are doing better now. Take all the time you need.