Category Archives: The Dog Ate My Homework

In the face of all odds, I struggled on … or something like that

This week got messy. Not as bad as October, but I did start feeling like Spider-Man on this classic Steve Ditko cover.

Monday, Trixie started having her tummy troubles again, where she’s in obvious discomfort and won’t eat anything (it’s a semi-regular thing). We made an appointment for the afternoon and I decided that when she moped off to hide in the corners I’d just steel my heart, ignore it and get to writing.

Only unlike previous incidents, Trixie didn’t hide as much. Mostly she came over and begged for petting, which of course I couldn’t help providing. So my work slowed to a crawl.

Worse, getting her drug injections at the vet didn’t help. She was just as miserable Tuesday so I had another day of distraction, another vet appointment (as did TYG, who had to break off work to come home).  I didn’t even make writer’s group. Partly that was because it had been a rainy day and it looked to get cold enough the roads might ice over (I don’t drive on ice unless it’s absolutely necessary). But I doubt I’d have had much fun if I did go.

Wednesday, thank goodness, Trixie was back to her old self. Thursday, we took her in for an ultrasound to see if the vet could find an underlying cause (they suspected pancreatitis). Nothing. Nor did the bloodwork show any signs. We’ve switched her to a more easy-digestible food, and we’re going to try and watch in case she’s eating something harmful (she likes to eat dirt. Who knows what’s in it?). Oh, and they had to shave her to make the ultrasound, which looks weird. Hopefully if nothing else, we can make sure the time between these attacks is long.

We do have pills she can take for the discomfort but it’s very difficult getting a dog that doesn’t want to eat to take a pill. I managed it, but it took a lot of work. Next time we’ll pop it in the first time we suspect a recurrence — hopefully it’ll solve things before it gets bad.

And of course, I didn’t sleep very well with Trixie in distress.

Astonishingly, I did get some writing done. I rewrote most of Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates but I couldn’t quite figure out how to revise the finish (it’s way too expository right now). And I began working through the bookmarked references for Sexist Myths — but damn, there’s a lot of them. I know I probably won’t use all of them (there are only so many examples I need to make my point) but I’m not sure which are dispensable yet. And I submitted three short stories, though one’s already back.

I did some Leaf articles and wrote a sample article for the Bakova Gallery in Hillsborough, whose owners I met with last week. If they like it, writing for them will become a regular gig — not as lucrative as the Leaf, but it’ll be lucrative enough. And I’m pleased that even with all the distractions, I’m much more efficient than when I was writing for Raleigh Public Record a few years ago.

But I’m glad the weekend’s here.

#SFWApro. Trixie photo is mine; all rights to cover remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Before you ask, we are not adopting him

But “Pogo” showed up a couple of times recently. Once I stared out the back, thinking I’d heard Wisp, and saw Pogo plaintively looking up at me. He scurried off before I could get a good photo.

But he’s been back, scrounging food.Wisp has been around. Despite being freezing cold this week, when she’s ready for attention/food she’s out in the cold, letting us know.

I hope she’s using the nice heated house, given temperatures were sub-freezing this week, but she’s definitely finding somewhere warm to survive.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Saving Daylight, Stealing Sleep

Like so many people, the switch to Daylight Savings Time messes up my body’s clock something fierce. I’d go to bed regular hours, but if I woke up around 3:30, my body would insist it was 4:30 which is too close to 5 AM to go back to sleep. So I’m a little sleep-deprived, again.

Despite which I had a productive week, making up for the mess of October. And that’s despite Plushie and Trixie insisting an hour before lunch and dinner that Daddy, it’s time to eat, it really is, why are you writing? And having to take Trixie into the vet Thursday for a sore throat. Chihuahuas are prone to collapsing trachea, and hers was acting up (it’s not fatal, but we have to take care of it). We got some drugs, she’s doing fine.

So what did I do, besides my usual quota of Leaf articles?

•I worked on my rewrite of Rabbits Indigneotem. I think my friend Cindy was right that a more upbeat ending works, but it’s still not quite right. I feel it’s close though, so I’ll keep working on it. I think something upbeat but black-humored would be ideal, but that’s tricky.

•Having gotten such a good response to the rewritten Chapter One of Impossible Takes a Little Longer from the writing group, I followed up with the next three chapters. I’d actually already made some changes on them so it didn’t take a huge amount of effort. It’ll get tougher as move forward into terra sort-of incognita.

•I continued rewriting Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I want to either finish the story by the end of the month (if it’s a short) or get 10,000 words in (if it turns into a novel). While I’m keeping the core of the original short story, which is the relationship between the four protagonists, I’ve followed my feedback and put a lot of work into fleshing out the world of people who use maps to time travel.

•I started going through the articles and blog posts I’ve bookmarked for Sexist Myths and incorporating them into the book. It’s going better than expected. I suspect I’ll have to cut some stuff when I finish this draft, because it’s getting pretty damn big.

•I went out to Hillsborough, about 30 minutes from my house, to meet with the new owners of an art gallery there. They’re looking to have someone write some press releases and articles for them; I’m sure they can’t pay what Leaf does, but it would be a fun break and a second income stream, which I haven’t had for a while — and not one that would suck up a huge amount of time, as some projects have.

I’m crunching numbers to figure out what to charge; I’ll get back to them this weekend and we’ll do a trial run article for their opening next week. Good thing I work fast.

•I sent off three short stories to different markets.

Hopefully I can keep up the momentum next week despite a doctor’s appointment. It does feel good to be productive again.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

 

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

October was a month. It definitely happened

That feels like all I can say as far as accomplishing my goals this month. Between the teeth, contractors, insomnia, caring for Wisp, and vacation (yay!), I got maybe a third of what I wanted accomplished, and even less of my writing goals. But now it’s November, so I feel magically like everything bogging me down has been washed away. We shall see.

This final week of October was decent. I finished the latest redraft of Sexist Myths and began adding my massive list of bookmarks with specific incidents, statements or refutations to the text. It’ll be a job. I’m hoping to finish next month.

I read the most recent first chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer to the writing group. This got a much better response than previous versions; a large part of that is, I think, because first person made it more emotional and speeded up the exposition a lot. The response was so good (I got a couple of instant beta-reading volunteers), I hope to resume work on the book this month and see if I can keep it up (no, I’m not doing Nano, so it’ll be a while before it’s done).

And I got my full quotient of Leaf articles in, so that’s done.

Thursday I took off, sat down and thought about the remaining two months of the year, what I wanted to get done and how much I could get done. It was a big help to making me feel focused instead of as frazzled and disorganized as I’ve been the past few weeks. I also went over my budget because traveling to Fort Walton Beach on vacation unsurprisingly took a bite out of my finances. Nothing that will cause a problem, but it’s nice to know that for sure.

I also thought about how to incorporate petting Wisp into the work day. I really don’t have much wiggle room, particularly now that it’s cold and Plushie is up for long lunch walkies (hot days are not good for squishy-faced dogs like him). I think it’s doable, if I structure my work breaks right.

 

One of my tasks for this month is to research cat doors and see if they’re a good option for letting Wisp enter freely, as an alternative to leaving the back door open while I pet her. That will be really unpleasant as things chill down. She’s definitely not into being shut in; Thursday she explored much of the living room but fled out as soon as I made a move that might have been to trap her. The two big problems will be making sure Trixie can’t get out through the door, and how we’ll deal with Wisp if she decides to come in at will (will she climb the shelves? Hassle Plushie? Take a crap?).  We’ll figure it out.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Trapped in a Gary Larson strip!

As a break from cute photos of puppies or cats, how about vultures?

Oh, what the heck, here’s a dog picture, showcasing Trixie’s fluffy tail.

Wisp’s very green eyes.And here are our silly dogs, easily distracted and failing to notice the dead rising from their graves. Run pups, run!

#SFWApro. Photographs are mine.

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The Wisp and the Challenge

Wisp is now routinely showing up and asking me for belly rubs and scritches.

She’s also coming much further into the house than she used to, though she doesn’t like it when we close the door on her.The big question is, where do we go from here? Where does she want to go?

If she decides she’d like to move in, at least part of the time, we’d probably accept, but what then? Will she and the dogs get along? How will I handle three pets sitting with/near me all day long and asking for petting? Will we need to convert the French door to a cat door? How will we keep the dogs from using it, because they are not suited to outdoor life.

In the short term, I’m wondering how to handle our petting sessions when it starts to get cold. Most of them take place in the doorway to the deck with Wisp lying down and waiting for belly rubs. A month or so and that’s going to be unpleasant. I may try closing the door and seeing if I can get her used to it.

At least as she survived last winter she should be able to make it through this one even if she stays outdoors.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Quotes for a Wednesday, plus dog photos

So last week I went down to Fort Walton Beach to see friends and family, staying with my sister and our mutual best friend Cindy. I discovered they have temporarily taken in a dog for someone who can’t keep it at his current home. Temporary, in this case, has been since February, so I figure Chad is a permanent fixture. He’s 15 years old, very stiff in the back legs (he needs help standing sometimes) and has Dalmatian markings on a bulldog/pit bull cross. He’s a sweet boy.

“The more time goes by, the more I think that our moral lives depend, to an enormous degree, on our ability to stop and think before crossing certain lines; to recognize that it is time to stop acting in whatever ways come naturally to us”—Hilary Bok

“God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”—Voltaire

“We don’t wait a lifetime for the perfect kiss from the perfect person because then we die alone.”—J. Gregory Keyes

“Want to know how to catch a mouse? Don’t try to learn from a pampered cat. To know the nature of the world, don’t study fine-bound books.”— Shih-Te.

“Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers and a girl in a diaphonous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.”—SJ Perelman.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.”–Benjamin Franklin

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”—Albert Einstein

“All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.””—Voltaire

“Fortune, if not blind, must certainly have her lunatic moments.”—John James Audubon.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

”Better to let them do it imperfectly than to do it perfectly yourself, for it is their country, their way, and your time is short.” — T.E. Lawrence.

“History abundantly documents the tendency of Government— however benevolent and benign its motives—to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies.”—Justice Lewis Powell

“To succeed it is necessary to accept the world as it is and rise above it”—Michael Korda

“Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.”— Harry Emerson Fosdick

“The history of the human species is largely a record of the powerful having their foot firmly on the neck of the powerless. Democracy, equality, justice, these are still novel innovations.”—olvlzl

“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”—Japanese proverb

“Be like Descartes: accept what you determine to be true. Be like Socrates: question everything. Be like Jesus of Nazareth: compassionate toward all, accepting of everyone.”—Robert M. Jeffers

“True peace is not just the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”—Martin Luther King

“The meaning of freedom begins with the still, small voice of conscience, when each of us decides what we will live, or die, for.”—Bill Moyers

“Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion. God alone can be omnipotent, because his justice and his wisdom are always equal to his power.”—Alexander de Toqueville.

#SFWApro.

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Teeth, lack of sleep, contractors — I hit the trifecta again!

So early Saturday morning, some time between 1 am and 2, TYG shifted into bed into Trixie’s sleeping space. Trixie, rather than just move a little ways, got off the bed, ran around to my side and tapped me to move so she could jump up. I woke, settled her on the bed … and found I’d been too thoroughly awakened to get back to sleep.

Sunday morning, Trixie decided she wanted to go out. Turns out she didn’t need to go, she just wanted to explore (this happens every so often). Again, sleep denied.

Sunday evening, we dropped in on our neighbor for a puppy play date and a glass of wine. The wine apparently messed up my sleep rhythms (which I was aware might be a problem) and I got almost no sleep.

Combined, that left me with a sleep deficit I haven’t quite made up until today. My work was correspondingly … uninspired.

Then on Thursday I had a follow-up dental appointment to replace my temporary crown with a permanent one. I showed up, got my mouth numbed … then it turned out the lab had made a misaligned crown so we had to cancel. That was a waste of potentially productive time, and I’ll still have to go back for my next appointment.

That afternoon I had to spend a couple of hours dealing with a contractor for some upgrades to TYG’s bathroom (new shelf, new small mirror).

I managed to squeeze out one redraft of Bleeding Blue that doesn’t come near enough to fixing the problems (I’m scheduled to read at one of the next two writers’ group meetings, so I want it at least a little more polished). I posted about cool book covers on Atomic Junkshop. And I got a fair amount done on Sexist Myths. But by and large, I felt kind of like the guy on the cover below.

#SFWApro. Cover by Wesso, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Goals for September, plus Wisp

So I made about 49 percent of my goals for September. This is not great, though I blame it mostly on circumstances, like lingering summer making it hard to get out, being sick that couple of days late in the month and various pup and cat issues.

Plus Sexist Myths is just slower to write than I hoped. I made a lot of progress during the two weeks when I wasn’t doing any Leaf articles, but even so. And I let it spill over into time I’d marked off for fiction which is always a mistake. I’ve done that with other nonfiction projects and the added work on them doesn’t make up for the unwritten fiction. Bad me!

And once again, I think my schedule needs some micro-adjustments. I’ll detail them another time.

On the plus side, Wisp is getting increasingly friendly, though she’s still making it clear she’s her own cat — no indoor-cat life for her! Though when I accidentally shut the door with her inside a week ago, she handled it with aplomb, just sitting there and going “mew …. mew.”

She forgave me. And as you can see, she’s down with letting me pet her belly.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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I hadn’t planned on a three-day week

I’d thought maybe a four day. Trixie had to go in for a dental cleaning yesterday, which threw my schedule off enough (not only trips to and from the vet, but wanting to cuddle her once she made it home) I figured maybe I’d take the day off and clean. But I also started to feel run down; I’m not sure if it’s due to a bug or allergies (they don’t usually get this bad up here, as opposed to Florida, but once in a while …) butI started to feel tired yesterday (though I did get some major cleaning done) and wiped out today. So no work. Though I take some comfort that my reaction was “darn it, I was going to be creative!” rather than “yay, vacation!”

Plus Trixie got up very early to poop a couple of nights, so I had to take her out and got little sleep after that. Happily it seems to have passed.

So what did I get done? Well, a lot of work browsing through various books with information for Sexist Myths, and adding it to the manuscript. I’d hoped to over the early chapters and straighten out the footnotes (I haven’t kept up with the constant addition of data) but still, I think the book’s coming along well.

I rewrote most of Bleeding Blue. I plan to be reading at one of the upcoming writer’s group meetings so I wanted one, or preferably two rewrites first. That would have been a major part of today’s work.  And after thinking about Oh, the Places You’ll Go last week, I started on a rewrite. Didn’t get far, though.

On the bright side, I was able to apply Wisp’s topical anti-flea meds this week. The vet told me it would be easy (and it’s only once every three months) but I had my doubts. She was right though. And Wisp has been very friendly, asking for pets and catching Trixie to rub up against her when we go out. So here are some photos.

#SFWApro. All rights to images are mine.

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Filed under Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing