Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

Overpowered by pets! My week in review

I knew that with TYG out of town Wednesday through Friday, this week would be a little demanding. But like Don Blake beholding Dr. Doom’s scarred face, I never dreamt it would be like this!

First, the background: TYG has an alumni event around this time every year. Normally it overlaps with Illogicon, the local SF con, so we board the dogs for the weekend. This year, however, hotel issues led to the con skipping until 2021. Even though TYG was out of town last month, she left Friday; this year she left Wednesday. It’s been at least a couple of years since I had to cope with handling the dogs solo on a workweek morning.

(And this is not a complaint about my spouse: I’m glad she’s having fun, and it’s not like I don’t travel solo sometimes).

Knowing they’d want long morning walks, I figured I’d get up, have breakfast, and work until it was light enough to take them out. But Trixie and Plush Dog follow me downstairs when they don’t have TYG upstairs to snuggle with. That’s distracting, plus my brain kept insisting this was my warmup period before work, not a time for actual writing, and I couldn’t seem to get past that.

Plus Wisp, as I noted this morning, has been really keen on coming in for petting, and that took up some extra time. And so did the walkies. This morning I got back from the walk at 9:15, which is almost two hours after I’d normally start writing. And I just went screw it, and gave up.

Despite which I did get some stuff done. I’m getting close to the end of Sexist Myths Chapter Six, which is all I expected to finish this month (I may have been wrong). I got through another chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Contrary to my worries last week, I think I’ve figured how to progress through some key scenes in KC’s personal arc. Didn’t get around to working on it further, though.

I redrafted Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates part-way. It’s improving steadily; I hope my next batch of beta-readers agrees with me the title works even though there’s no longer a box of chocolates — I think it’s funnier if death comes from a box of Stuckey’s praline candies.

And I submitted three stories Monday to various markets, as well as reworking and finishing Rabbits Indignateonem (thanks to feedback from my friend Cindy Holbrook). I also revised Fiddler’s Black based on feedback from the last market I submitted it to, tdotspec. They thought one of my two leads was undeveloped, and that the opening needed tightening; after looking it over, I agree on both counts. I’ll go over it again before I resubmit it somewhere.

So pretty good, even if I didn’t stick the landing. And after all my dogs are worth losing time over. So is my wife.#SFWApro. Dog photo by me, cover by John Buscema, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Wisp, the persistent

So Wisp’s thing the past week or so is that when I put down breakfast on the deck, she comes in and apparently doesn’t want to go out to eat.

She’s done that before, but not for quite such long stretches, or so consistently. I half-wonder if she’s thinking about becoming an indoor cat, but I kind of hope not, because we’re not ready for that yet (no scratching post, no litter box).

 

While it’s nice to get a little extra petting in, it’s also a problem because sooner or later I have to get up and do other stuff. I can’t just leave Wisp sitting there if the dogs are here too; they seem to get along almost okay, but almost is not good enough. I really don’t want to have to explain to TYG that Wisp took her claws and shivved Plush Dog. I do need to try getting up and leaving Wisp at times the dogs are out on walkies or in daycare and see how she does if I’m not sitting next to her. If she’s going to spend more time inside, she’s going to have to do some of it when I’m not petting her.

She also likes to follow us on walkies.

It’s a little scary when she crosses the road, but so far she’s had the good sense to retreat into her Wisp cave in the storm drains.

Over on the canine side, Trixie’s tummy continues to be a problem. We’ve switched her over to a different kind of kibble, but we need wet food to go with it and have had trouble procuring any. Still her reaction to the new kibble is good, so that’s encouraging.

Walks are getting longer in the cold, which is good for them. Good for me too, but it also cuts into my work time. Still, I won’t refuse them a long walk.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Trixie sees her shadow (and other events)

So Wednesday morning, TYG and I took the dogs for a walk. On the way home we were upon a slope with the sun to our right—And man, when she saw our shadows, she wanted to run down and meet us. It was adorable. And the walk also let me photograph the first heron and first sunrise of 2020:New Year’s Day was otherwise quite relaxed. New Year’s Eve was very relaxed as we don’t go out: TYG has no urge to stay out somewhere until midnight, and I worry about drunks on the road. I was also exhausted so we went to bed without even trying to stay up to midnight. It paid off though: I had a solid nine hours of sleep, which was amazingly refreshing.

Now, as to the rest of the week:

I redrafted Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s getting close to the point I can show it to someone — either the writer’s group again, or one of my out-of-group beta readers. And I’m keeping the title, even though it doesn’t quite fit as it’s now a box of Stuckey’s praline candies that kicks off the plot

I worked on a first draft I’d largely forgotten about, involving a couple of teenage girls in 1969 getting caught up in a battle with a mysterious sorcerer. I have a lot of unfinished drafts on my laptop, so one of my goals for this year is to get twelve of them finished. This one’s not there yet, but it’s 2,500 words closer.

I worked two chapters on Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I might have gone further, but I ran into an obstacle: I’m now at a couple of chapters where KC’s personal arc takes precedence over the action, and the arc’s changed completely. I like having a pause in the action but a lot of the discussion and conflict no longer works. Hopefully when I look at it again next week, I’ll see the path.

And I finished Chapter Five of Sexist Myths. Reordering the chapter’s argument and entering all the time was a slog … and that’s chapter was in good shape. Chapter Six is a lot less ready, so that may be all i get done on the book the rest of this month.

And I made samosas. They tasted great, but didn’t look at all like the ones you get in restaurants. I’ve had that problem before — next time I make them, I’ll make sure I have enough free time to really work on them.

A good start to 2020. Hope it keeps up.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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Wisp in 2020

One of my goals for 2020 was that we should figure out what we want our relationship with Wisp to be, and then make it happen.

This is partly going to depend on what Wisp wants it to be. She’s been living on her own for at least 18 months now; it’s not like she’s a kitten we can bring into the house and teach her to adapt to us. We need a situation that she’ll be happy with, but also works for us.

My guess is she’s going to want to stay an outside cat. The most probable solution is a cat door; TYG is uncomfortable about the possibility of other things using it, but it’s possible to set one to respond to a microchip. If we chip her next summer when her next vet appointment rolls around, we can set the door accordingly. That way her ins and outs aren’t dependent on me opening the door, which should work better for both of us.

Of course there’s still the question of adapting to the dogs. Trixie, as you can see, is down with Wisp; even when Wisp buffeted her lightly a couple of weeks back, Trixie didn’t freak, just growled a warning. Plushie, though, is a little more excitable. Hopefully, he can adapt. He’s quite calm when they meet outside, but on his own turf he’s a little more confrontational — though so far she’s taken it well.

Time will tell how this works out. Or if it does.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Productivity and plague: my last writing week of 2019

The plague was the same problem I’ve been dealing with for four years now: the combination of dry heated air from the heating system with my asthma plus bad breath control makes me vulnerable to any virus that comes along. It gets into my throat and leaves me hacking, wheezing and eventually without a voice.

Fortunately I’ve learned to strike first when I feel the symptoms, and so Tuesday, went I felt a familiar hacking and wheezing, I went in to the urgent care near our house. Good move: they confirmed I had a virus (probably the one TYG acquired on a recent trip) and gave me some nasal drops. They seem to be working, though I’m also careful about not talking (the breath control problem — I can really strain my throat). I rested most of the day, which was smart, but cost me more work time. Plus I don’t work on Christmas. Still, I got quite a bit done.

I completed the third chapter of Sexist Myths but discovered Chapter Four is one of my weakest. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but it requires more thought than I can manage with the dogs squished up against me non-stop (I didn’t get my break last week due to Trixie’s tummy troubles so I’m feeling the loss of personal space more than usual). I started Chapter Five and did much better; I’ll come back to Four when the pups are in doggy day care again next week.

I put some more work in on Oh, the Places You’ll Go and reviewed a slightly revised version of the original version. I’ve got to say, despite one member of my writing group saying it was fine as it stood, I think it does need a lot more, so the big reboot is probably necessary.

And I completed the nine chapters of Impossible Takes a Little Longer I set myself as one of my goals for the month. Chapter Nine introduces the villain, and I was very unsure because he’s so radically rebooted from the previous version. However early this morning I saw a way to make him work and forged ahead. Hopefully my new approach will prove itself as I progress.

Just a few more days this year and then enter 2020. But for now, enjoy the weekend!

#SFWapro. Photograph is mine.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

There is disorder under heaven but the situation is pretty good

For starters, the digital magazine Kzine, which published my Kernel of Truth in 2015, now makes hard copy issues available via Amazon.

I got mine. As I love having copies in hard copy, this made me very happy. Though my smile looks weird here, it’s sincere.

The big disruption this week was Trixie. Sick stomach again on Sunday, vet appointment Wednesday. They suggested another new food, but Thursday she wouldn’t eat it, so we kept her home from daycare. At the end of the day, she scarfed down a kong full of soft food, so she’s back to normal.

But what is normal? Is her lack of interest in breakfast a sign of a constant low level of whatever this problem is? Or is it that she just doesn’t like kibble (we thought about a tooth problem but she has no hesitation with hard foods that she likes)? Given we’re supposed to feed her mostly the new kibble plus a little of the soft food, will we have to go the other way around to get her to eat? Stay tuned.

I’d planned to use my dog-free Thursday to donate blood and catch a movie. But even if Trixie had been hale and hearty, it wouldn’t have worked. TYG has a bad bug, I have a mild version, but I didn’t think I should give blood. And we had a contractor stop by in the afternoon so I couldn’t have made the movie anyway. Frustrating. And today hasn’t been massively more productive, mostly research reading. And an Atomic Junkshop post on Christmas time-loop movies.

Despite all of which, the week was productive. I did a redraft of Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates and I think I see how to fix the ending on the next draft. I wrote a couple of chapters of Impossible Takes a Little Longer and redrafted my Oh the Places You’ll Go. I’d been planning on a much more elaborate rewrite, but one of the writers in my group said that it worked great as it was; I’ll look at the redraft next week and see if I agree (it certainly would be quicker to get it done).

I only got about 40 percent through Chapter Three of Sexist Myths And Why They’re Bullshit. I wound up doing more Leaf this week than I’d expected and for once the time came out of my nonfiction rather than my fiction. I’m okay with that, and I think I can make it up next week.

So confused, and certainly stressful when Trixie was miserable (though the veterinary drugs we got help a lot), but pretty good. And now it’s only a few days to Christmas — where did the time go?

#SFWApro. All rights to Kzine cover (art by Dave Windett) remains with current holders.

 

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Lot of stuff done, though it wasn’t very creative

But I did bake some bread that came out great. I guess that’ll be my artistic accomplishment for the week.

It’s a beer bread from 100 Great Breads, in case you were wondering. Not as strongly flavored as some beer-based breads I’ve made, but quite tasty.

So last weekend, I was housebound with the pups while TYG was traveling. Result? Sunday work didn’t come off. In the morning we had a three mile walk; by the time I got back, had some hot chocolate (it was a cold morning) and got read to work, I only had 90 minutes before lunch walk (the shrinking daylight has pushed the start time a lot later than a couple of months back). And that was another three mile walk, after which I felt too stiff and wiped to do much. So poof!

So rather than try to squeeze in my usual mix of fiction Sexist Myths and Leaf articles, I decided I’d switch to all Leaf for a week and then going all (or mostly) in on my personal stuff the rest of the month. Result? Sixteen Leaf articles done. I’d actually hoped to do more, but with no break from the work, my mind found it harder and harder to focus.

I might do some next week anyway, but a lot less than usual. Or maybe none — we’re getting close to the point where the remaining articles are topics I can’t do.

Thursday I devoted my hours to cleaning. We’re having the writers’ group Christmas Party Saturday so I wanted to get as much cleaning out the way as possible. That included bringing in a couple of contractors to check out a ceiling problem (minor, happily) and the carpet cleaning company (dogs deposit a lot of mess on carpeting. Who knew?). Plus Google Fiber is available in our neighborhood, and we’ve switched, so I had to deal with the installer. He was good, but it took more time than I expected.

So not much creative work done. But a lot will get done in the next couple of weeks. Woot!

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Wisp and the dogs

So Wednesday, Wisp was mewing outside when I took the dogs for their pre-dinner walk. She rolls on the sidewalk and obviously wants them to play with her. The most she’ll get, usually, is some mutual sniffing of each other, and perhaps a head butt to one of the dogs (an affectionate cat gesture, according to what I’ve been reading).

While the dogs were chowing down on a bowl of kibble, I opened the front door, invited Wisp inside and let her come in. She began wandering around the house, which was fine, until Plushie noticed and chased after her. I’m not sure if it was hostile or just play-chasing like he does with Trixie, but given Wisp has sharp little claws on all four feet, it was somewhat alarming. She wound up cornered by Plushie near one of the bookcases, but then they just sat looking at each other. He didn’t attack. She didn’t either. I opened the back door and she ran out.

Which is why having her in the house unsupervised, should she want that, may prove difficult. I think they were both friendly, but I don’t want any misunderstandings that end up with one of the dogs getting a claw swipe across the face. I don’t want Wisp hurt either.

We’ll see how it goes.

Below, Trixie sniffing for Pogo on the deck, and some shots of the dogs after grooming Wednesday

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Now that’s what I call productive. Well, except for today

TYG, you see, has a weekend trip out of town. So this morning I made a quick run to get some dog meds and other stuff while TYG was still here; that way I don’t have to go through the routine of setting up Plushie’s cage and putting him in it, then placating the dogs after I come back, having ABANDONED THEM OH NOOOOES! That threw me off my game, plus TYG getting ready to go also pulled focus from my writing. Not that she needed my help, but as she was packing, she was chatting, and I was chatting back, and then we had the kissing goodbye, etc, etc.

(Plush Dog contemplates my ankle)

And the weather was cool enough that lunch walkies was a long one. That not only took a chunk of time out of the early afternoon (no complaints, the pups are entitled to it) but I was quite exhausted by the time we got back. I just could not get my head in the game enough to focus on work, so I just blogged for next week (and an Atomic Junkshop post that will go live tomorrow). So all I got done today was 500 words on Oh the Places You’ll Go.

Up to that point, things were productive, despite having a dental appointment Tuesday and Trixie having her recurring tummy troubles (fortunately we have meds, and I can get them into her even if she doesn’t want to eat). In addition to submitting eight Leaf articles I submitted one short story and a revised version of my Space Invaders proposal to McFarland. They liked it, so it’s a go subject to them approving a table of contents and sample chapter; I’ll submit that stuff next month.

I finished the first two chapters of Sexist Myths and Why They’re Bullshit, and got some good feedback on the title from my friends on FB (one of whom still likes Undead Sexist Cliches so I may reconsider it). The footnotes for the next few chapters are in much poorer shape, but hopefully it won’t slow me down too much.

And I got two chapters of Impossible Takes a Little Longer done. So far the changes have gone down smooth, but tougher changes lie ahead. Fingers crossed.

So that was my productive week. The weekend will be spent here at home with the pups, watching movies and doing some writing.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Wisp in Transition

So this week, when I open the door in the morning to give Wisp breakfast, she runs in and demands petting instead. It’s quite flattering that she chooses me over food, especially as she always used to go for food first. Of course, it could be that she likes being in where it’s warm (though I don’t think so — she does this even when the temperature’s bearable), or that she’s getting extra meals somewhere else (possible). She’s also much more comfortable with having the door closed or almost closed.

But it’s a little tricky dealing with this new Wisp. Partly because morning is my most productive time and it’s when I least want pet distractions (like the dogs, Wisp doesn’t seem terribly moved by this). And partly because I don’t really know how to get her outside again. This morning I tried just getting up and moving away to see what she’d do; she started exploring the house. Which is cool, but I’m not comfortable leaving her unsupervised yet. Particularly when she’s in while the dogs are downstairs. They’ve gotten along decently so far, but I’m worried Plushie might try and rush at her for being on his turf, and she might retaliate with a scratch. It would be very hard to explain a banged-up Plushie to TYG. Plus, he whimpers so when he’s in pain, even a little.

So I can’t really leave her alone, but I can’t sit there indefinitely until she’s done. This morning, though, I gave her about ten minutes of petting, then put food outside. She was ready for it by then.

If it reaches the point where she just settles in and I can trust her and the dogs together, things will be much simpler. I think …

We are definitely not bringing Pogo into the house. But he is handy when Wisp leaves food on the deck (for the record, we usually clean up the bowls quicker than this).#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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