Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Trip By Aerial Tramway

See the little yellow car? It's coming for us!
Palm Springs is an odd place. It's in the middle of a desert and yet it's full of golf courses and rich people. It's also full of interesting mid-century architecture and fancy chocolate shops but that's not what we went there to see last Friday.

No, we went to see the Aerial Tramway. And now that I've experienced it, I can happily proclaim it to be the oddest thing in all of Palm Springs. It's basically a big tram car on a cable that whisks you up from the valley floor to 8,500 feet in just over 10 minutes. You stand up for the whole trip, facing big picture windows, watching the valley recede below you. Really, really far below you. It's a bit like watching out the window of an airplane, in fact. Oh, and did I mention that the floor of the tram rotates? Perhaps I should stop explaining and just show some photos. Keep in mind that it was nearly 80 degrees in the valley the day we visited.

Looking down towards the visitor center
When viewed down the mountain, everything looks very arid and hot. And far away.
Two feet of fresh snow!
But at the top it's another story! 54 miles of hiking trails, or so they said. We didn't hike nearly that far.
A three-legged dog. In sunglasses.
The altitude apparently makes people do strange things. This dog's human was giving a monologue about why the dog only liked to wear human sunglasses, not dog sunglasses.

There were also quite a few lovely snowmen, built by people who had apparently only heard of snowmen before but never seen one. The one on the left was one of my favorites. 
Here's one to prove I was really there. Look at all that snow!
And here's one to prove that Gabriel was there too.
And here is the end of our hike. You can tell it's the end, because that's the edge of the mountain. Look carefully... See Palm Springs way down there, in the distance? That's where we went next. And yes, I had a piece of super fancy chocolate before we headed back to LA. 
Crazy fancy key lime chocolate

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vera, Now With Less Body Parts!

Back from the vet - Day 1
Vera Kitten has lived with us only since December. When we adopted her she was tiny, recovering from near-starvation, and proportioned like a toddler. According to our vet she was probably about 16 weeks old. Imagine our surprise when, only 3 weeks later, she went into heat. Could our baby cat possibly be old enough to have kittens?


It seems odd, but female cats mature sexually long before they mature physically. If Vera hadn't been rescued from the parking lot where she was found there's a good chance she'd be pregnant already. Kittens having kittens: a terrible outcome for everyone. So, please, spay or neuter your pet! Yes, it's an actual surgery for the female (naturally males have a much shorter recovery time since their reproductive machinery is easier to access) but it's worth it in the long run. Females in heat pee in unfortunate places (the pockets of jackets, couch cushions, toasters, countertops... just to name a few that I've heard stories about), yowl at all hours of the night, and try to sneak out any open door to meet up with the resident local tom cats. None of these things were in the cards for Vera though, because she was spayed on Friday.
Vera looking a bit like an angry flower

She's back home now and seems to be recovering nicely. She doesn't know it, but these several days of discomfort have lots of benefits. Recent studies have shown that for every feline "fixed" 0.57 are spared the uncertainty of ending up at a shelter. Less unwanted cats also means less stray cats, which in turn means a smaller impact on stressed wildlife populations. After all, cats are born hunters, and their presence can be devastating to songbird populations.

As much as we hate to see our kitten in the "cone of shame" we made the choice to spay.

I know that anyone reading my blog probably has made the same choice. But just in case you're still considering it, here are some facts from the Humane Society of America that may help you make up your mind.

Thanks for listening. We will now return to our regular program of cute animal photos, trivia, and comic book news.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

One of my favorite images from Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes
Yeah, I missed doing the whole New Year's wrap-up blog post thing. But this week marks my birthday. That's kind of like a personal New Year, right? I'm going with "yes" and so, without further ado, here's what's going on with me, past and future.

2011 resulted in some big transitions. The largest happened when I left my position as a zoo keeper. I loved my job, the people I worked with and, most of all, the animals I cared for. But the commute was  becoming horrific and left me with little time to write. So I took the plunge last spring and became a fulltime freelancer. It's scary to work "without a net", but rewarding too. Since last February I've had a number of prose short stories published (check out the links on the right if you'd like to read any), done several non-fiction articles, and had my sci-fi story "Oceans of Darkness" reprinted in the Zahir Anthology 2011.

And then there were comics! I was thrilled to have a backup short in Fear Itself: the Homefront #2, with art by Lelio Bonaccorso, appear soon after I left my day job. Over the summer I had two shorts published by Double Feature: The Liar, written with my husband and partner Gabriel Hardman (who also did the art), and The Carpetbaggers, with wonderful spooky art by Kyle Latino.

My favorite project of the year was beyond a doubt Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, the four issue Planet of the Apes miniseries Gabriel and I did for BOOM! Comics. We loved every minute of writing it and Gabriel really outdid himself on the art. We were lucky enough to get Jordie Bellaire to handle the colors too, a real coup in my opinion. The fourth issue just arrived in shops last week, but if you missed it there's going to be a trade paperback collection in July. In fact, you can already pre-order it on Amazon of from your favorite comic shop.

Big Sur!
We also attended what felt like a ton of cons (Emerald City, Heroes, NYCC, and Comicon, among others) and even slipped in a tiny 3 day vacation to Big Sur where I finally saw a condor in the wild. Sadly, we also lost our beloved cat Fredo in October. He finally succumbed to cancer, but not before living five years longer than anyone had dared hope.

And what of the future? Gabriel and I are writing a followup miniseries to Betrayal called Exile on the Planet of the Apes. The talented Marc Laming is handling the art this time around, with Jordie back on colors. The first issue ships in March and I promise there will be plenty of apes riding horses, apes arguing politics, and general ape intrigue. You can hear us talk all about it here. I'l also have a story appearing in Outlaw Territory Volume 3 later this year, as well as a short about hyacinth macaws coming soon from Bizarre New World. Not to mention the sorta secret new sci-fi OGN that Gabriel and I are hard at work on!

As to cons, we are planning on attending Emerald City again, C2E2 for the first time, Baltimore, Vancouver, and NYCC. Whew! To top it all off, we also have a new fuzzy black kitten named Vera, who was rescued from a parking lot. You can read her story here if you'd like. So that's the news. Never a dull moment when you're working freelance, apparently.
Fuzzy Kitten Vera

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