Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

A smoother cruise this week than last

I wrote a week ago that the first week of 2023 felt like a shakedown cruise. This week the ship seemed to stabilize. We still had a lot of distractions but the work went well despite that.

The big distractions came Tuesday. Snowdrop had peed on the couch the night TYG kept him indoors and she could still smell it. We had someone come in to clean the couch off, after which we and the dogs had to stay off it for several hours while it dried.

Unfortunately that resulted in me and the pups sitting on the other couch for most of the afternoon. It’s much harder to work on my computer around them — the couch arms are too high to rest the computer there for instance — so I wound up doing some research reading instead.

We also had someone come in to check out the chimney as well. It has some damage which make it unwise to use the fireplace so TYG wanted a price estimate on repairs. Suffice to say, repairs would cost more than we want to spend, given that we didn’t use the chimney much even when it was in good shape. However if either of us gets a big payday down the road we might reconsider.

Thursday I’d planned to run out to the library and pick up the new Elric book I’d reserved, otherwise the reservation would have expired. That turned into a much larger expedition as I also wound up getting Trixie’s prescription food from the vet, plus food shopping done, plus picking up a prescription. TYG is away this weekend at an alumni event out of town — she left mid-morning — so I’ll be sticking home with the dogs and not going out. That saves me having to crate Plushie — he gets up to mischief otherwise – or the slight possibility something happens to me while driving and then there’s no-one here for the dogs until Monday.

Anyway, that bulked up the trip until I had no focus left for work by the time I got home. Still, I did get quite a bit done this week:

I redrafted a story I last worked on a couple of years ago, before Undead Sexist Cliches, Aliens Are Here and Questionable Minds sucked up so much time. It’s a long way from good yet, but I see more potential in the tale of a ruthless, objectivist businessman and his mysterious nemesis. Currently untitled.

I got several thousand words further in Impossible Takes A Little Longer, getting a lot of Reveals out of the way before things move into the climax (Hitchcock recommended that, so nobody’s distracted from the action by waiting for exposition). I stopped when it became time to move against the bad guys because I’ve no idea what they’re going to do. Hopefully it’ll come to me when I resume.

My research reading involved a couple of urban fantasies I’ll be reviewing soon, Fae of Fortune by John P. Logsdon and Eric Quinn Knowles and rereading Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. I prefer doing that kind of reading outside of writing hours but with so many to-do things distracting me, I compromised.

I got about 3,000 words further into Let No Man Put Asunder. I also read the first two or three thousand words to the writing group who gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up plus some feedback I’ll be discussing soon.

So go me! Let’s hope next week is as productive.

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

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

I shall think of this week as a shakedown cruise for 2023

My work weeks often make me think of that phrase of Chairman Mao, “there is disorder under heaven but the situation is excellent.” This was a messy, disorganized week; I did get my hours of work in, but I wasn’t focusing as well as I should. By today, all I could manage was research reading. Even my pleasure reading slowed down, a sure sign my head is not in the game.

The problem may have been Monday night: TYG had an IT crisis to deal with which woke me up after barely a couple of hours’ sleep; when I went downstairs the cats wanted in and demanded attention, making it impossible to sleep, or to get some early work done. On the plus side, Snowdrop did something we’ve wanted for years, accepting a place in my lap.This is a big step for him, though I still had to keep the back door open to keep him happy. And I do wish it had been TYG’s lap because she loves Snowdrop so much. Still, it’s very cool. But not conducive to sleep.

Later in the week I had appointments (minor car repair), errands (pick up doggy drugs) and other matters to distract me. So maybe that’s all there was to it. Or perhaps it’s the return to the mean I keep blogging about: sooner or later, sheer chance dictates I’m going to have an off week. I had an above average month in December so perhaps this is a return to the mean. The two explanations are not incompatible of course. Either way, the week is done so hopefully I can rise back to bettter-than-average next week.

The biggest accomplishment of the week wast that I redrafted Bleeding Blue and I’m really pleased with it. I expanded on the scenes without padding, fixed several problems my writing group pointed out and much improved the climactic scene. I’m still not entirely satisfied with it so I’m putting the story aside for a week, then I can look at it with fresh eyes.

My next accomplishment was to collect the short stories for Magic In History — title is very tentative — which is a collection I hope to self-publish later this year. I also gathered all my Doc Savage posts with an eye to reworking them into a book, the same way I worked my James Bond posts into Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast.

I got some good work done in Impossible Takes a Little Longer, especially considering it’s new material rather than reworking my previous draft. I didn’t get as far as I would have if my focus had been stronger though. The same is true of Let No Man Put Asunder.

Oh, and Draft2Digital notified me I sold three books last month, ebook versions of Atlas Shagged, Questionable Minds and Undead Sexist Cliches. Thanks, unknown purchasers!

And now the weekend. I shall chill, re-energize (I hope) and rebound next week.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

The password for 2022 is: recalled to life

Sitting here at the end of the year, it really feels that way. It was a good year for me and TYG in multiple ways.

It started out with lots of room to improve. TYG got a massive, urgent project in her lap starting in January and it kept her running at top speed through March. Then she spent a couple of months on another demanding project, after which she happily jumped to a new job with more pay for a less insane workload. Not that it still doesn’t get extreme but she has more free time to go out with me, go out with friends, sit and read and she’s relishing it.

Needless to say, when she’s happier and less stressed, I’m happier and less stressed. Plus I’m happier to see her happier.

And while covid is hardly gone — a lot of our friends finally came down with it this year — getting vaxxed and boosted has left us both confident enough to resume a lot of normal stuff like going to art museums and eating out. Not to mention finally visiting the North Carolina Zoo.

Coupled with TYG’s added time we’ve been having an official date night every week (usually on weekends) to do something couple-ish, whether it’s watching a movie, taking a walk without the dogs or playing board games. I think it’s really boosting the pleasure we take in our marriage (not that we were miserable before or anything like that).

One of my goals for 2022 was to end the year with more money than I started with. I managed that, partly because I signed up for Social Security early: the payout is slightly less but the added number of payments over the next few years compensates for that.

This was a good year for writing. I got some wonderful compliments on my work from one of my paying clients and I self-published or sold way more than any time in recent memory. For example, The Aliens Are Here is now out.Questionable Minds is available in ebook on Amazon or other retailers.The Savage Year came out at Metastellar. Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates is live on Metastellar. And I finished four short stories this year; my goal was six, but four is closer than I usually manage.

Plus, of course, I kicked off the year by self-publishing Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers.

Along with my writing here I’m still blogging regularly at Atomic Junk Shop and doing panels for Con-Tinual.

Plus 2022 included the usual stuff — eating, reading, playing with pets, snuggling with TYG — and what used to be usual, such as visiting my family in Florida.

What lies ahead in 2023? Well no-one can be certain but I’ll be back with my hopes in my Sunday blog post.

#SFWApro. Questionable Minds cover by Samantha Collins, Undead Sexist Cliches by Kemp Ward, rights are mine.

 

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For some reason I only got about three days of work done … oh, wait

And most of the three days went to working on another of my paying-gig accounting articles. So not much else to discuss.

I did rewrite Don’t Pay the Ferryman (I may retitle it Paying the Ferryman) and I think I have an ending that will work. I also finished the first chapter of my revamped Let No Man Put Asunder but I’m not sure where to go next (I’ll discuss that in its own post soon). And then came Thanksgiving and today, which I’m also taking off. so that’s about it. Though I did post at Atomic Junkshop about DC’s new characters from 1965 and my love of Sherlock Holmes.As Charon plays a role in Paying the Ferryman, here’s Ernie Colon’s depiction from Arak, Son of Thunder.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Surrounded by pets, but missing my angel

So last Sunday, TYG headed out of town for a business trip, leaving me as a single doggy parent until she returned this morning. Quite aside from missing her, it was a weird adjustment.

Our dogs aren’t the independent type: when we’re home, they expect to be with us. Snuggled in the lap is, of course, the ideal. Or being in the kitchen hoping for a delicious treat.We usually adjust to their wishes. So I’d wake up, go down and make tea, come back up and drink it in bed while I read. Then I’d do some work for a couple of hours. Then we go down and begin the morning dog routines and walkies.

At least that was the theory. The practice proved erratic. Tuesday morning Plushie wanted very badly to go downstairs. Thursday and Friday I made sure to give him extra snuggles in the bed — he doesn’t always come and ask the way Trixie does — and he liked it so much he squirmed into my lap in a position where I couldn’t write (I’d have had to rest the lap desk right on him). I did not, of course, remove him.

As we walk the dogs separately that meant twice as much time devoted to walkies. Fortunately it’s beautiful out this week, chilly-to-cold but I can live with that. And as I didn’t exercise other than walkies or do my yoga — dogs take it as body language for Snuggle With Me — I guess the time balanced out.

Things did get more complicated when Wisp or Snowdrop showed up and I had more pets to deal with. Still it’s great to see Wisp coming in more and even napping on the back of the couch again.

Snowdrop began meowing plaintively when she met up with me and the dogs in the yard. I think he missed TYG — we’ll see how he reacts now that she’s back.

As TYG went off with a lot of her ingredients unused I postponed my own cooking plans and worked on using up the leftovers: rice and veggie bowl, frittatta, apple tart, roasted grapes with rosemary. Good stuff.

Oh, work? The week started off well but bogged down. When I take care of the dogs for this long, there’s something about the constant lack of space that sands down my ability to think. Thursday I was working slow; today I got nothing but the bare minimum done, even after TYG came back.

I completed almost all my promotional work for Questionable Minds. I’ll wrap up the rest Monday.

I got another chapter done for Impossible Takes a Little Longer … and promptly decided to revise it. It’s a slow, character-centric chapter which would be fine except it’s following another one. So once again, I’m moving up catastrophes originally scheduled for later chapters. I’ll get onto that next week.

I also had an insight how several disconnected ideas might work together to create one novel. But that’s for later … well, maybe.

And I got another accounting article done. While I fell several hours short of my hourly goal for the week but under the circumstances I think that’s acceptable. Hopefully the multiple appointments we have next week won’t derail me further.

Oh, plus I got paid for the upcoming reprint of Happiest Place on Earth, plus one book sales of Undead Sexist Cliches, plus someone checked out Atlas Shagged on Hoopla (a library service that pays a little per checkout). Whoever my two readers are, I hope you liked the books and I thank you for investing the time on my work.

#SFWApro.

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Shambling on, no matter what: undead sexist cliches

Eleven years ago I wrote my first Undead Sexist Cliches post, dealing with claims that women having premarital sex destroys men. The argument that if men can get sex they’ll never achieve anything didn’t make any sense then, nor does blaming the women rather than telling the men to shape up.

But that’s “himpathy” at work — no matter what the problem, it’s never the man’s fault. Even if a man goes on a killing spree, right wingers blame women — they aren’t deferential enough, or they’re having too much sex and driving the guys who can’t get laid crazy.This combines himpathy with the right-wing conviction only men are entitled to premarital sex. Like the proverbial man with a hammer, they see “women having sex” as the nail they have to hit.

Case in point, OAN host Kara McKinney citing the same undead sexist cliche, this time in regard to incels: they kill because women won’t sleep with them. As David Futrelle points out there are reasons for that, and not because the guys are ugly: they’re misogynist and nasty even when they are sleeping with someone. But that would be politically incorrect to McKinney so she blames it on the sexual revolution, because ‘the most high status of men, that they’re going to get all the women. And that it’s the lower status men who are not going to get women. And of course what you see in those men, you see a lot of them turning to aggressive violence, trying to kidnap women … what they’re mad at, and what women should be mad at, is actually the sexual revolution. Because it’s put men and women, actually both of us, in a very bad place.”

This is, of course, a big pile of nonsense, parroting the incel obsession that they can’t get laid because the handsome “Chads” monopolize the women. But there’s never been a time when some men didn’t get more women than others. Aristocrats took mistresses. Rich men took mistresses. Handsome, smooth talking Lotharios slept around. People in authority have sexually harassed lots of women. The sad, lonely guy who can’t get a date has been a part of our culture since at least the 19th century (longer, I’m sure). The only exception was arranged marriages, which may be one reason conservatives such as Matt Walsh think they’re great.

But of course, all that’s true for women too. Some women can’t get a date, or a husband, or sex yet they don’t go on shooting sprees. As Laurie Penny pointed out some years ago, shy, nerdy girls deal with the same insecurity and loneliness as nerd boys, yet they don’t go on killing sprees (she also points out that arranged marriage is way more appealing for a lonely man).

Plus, of course, reality shows us McKinney is spouting lies (whether she believes them or not, I cannot guess). We see a world where lots of guys who are not high status find love. Me. Any number of my friends. That comes down to a lot of factors, including luck, but a big one is that we’re not misogynist shits who blame women for our screw-ups.

It’s possible that today there are indeed more guys who can’t find sex, or love, or marriage, but it isn’t sexual liberation or the Chads. What makes a difference is that equal-rights laws make it harder to discriminate women at work. More women have been able to build carers which means they don’t have to settle for marriage as the primary means of support. That was a huge game-changer — one reason misogynist James Taranto thinks those laws should go away — and a change for the better. For that matter the sexual revolution, in reducing some of the slut-shaming sexually active women live with, was an improvement.

I go into these cliches in more detail in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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Why “I’ve done my research” is not the best phrasing

“I’ve done my research” is a phrase I occasionally see from writers when readers question their facts, their interpretation of the fact, or their handling of sensitive topics (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). Other writers seem to take the same tone, even if they don’t use the words. They’ve done the necessary research on mixed-race marriages in the 1920s/the Black Panther Party/the gay-rights Mattachine Society/the Asian-American immigrant experience; if they’ve got it wrong, they’re not at fault.

It makes researching your topic sounds like prep for a certification exam. To take the HVAC licensing exam you need X hours of classroom work, X hours of hands-on experience; to write about the Other, you need X hours of reading relevant books, then nobody can question your qualifications.

I will pause here and note that as I’m not a telepath — or “human telegraph” as they’re called in Questionable Minds — I may be misinterpreting some or all the people who say things like this. Fortunately I think my point is sound even if I am: researching a topic is important, but it doesn’t mean your understanding of black activism in the 1960s or military life in WW II can’t be questioned. Can’t be wrong. But we can. If I misinterpreted some reference material  in Undead Sexist Cliches or I didn’t do enough research to catch that the theorist I cite has been disproven, the fault lies with me, not my sources (for the record, I don’t think that’s the case).

Research is important in nonfiction, and often in fiction. As I’ve previously written, I did plenty of research for Questionable Minds. That doesn’t make me error-proof. It can be something as simple as mistyping a date and not catching it, misremembering what I read or misinterpreting material I read. Even if my work is perfectly accurate, my portrayal of Victorian England or the five women slain by Jack the Ripper could wind up being pro-imperialist (I don’t think it does) or treating them as faceless, unimportant victims, the “nameless drabs of Robert Bloch’s Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.I bring up Jack’s victims because I’d probably have written them differently if I’d read Hallie Rubenhold’s THE FIVE: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold argues that what we think we know about the five is mostly printed legend: there’s no hard evidence any of them except Mary Kelly was a sex worker. Her view is that the press and police made snap judgments about these lower-class women and later writers parroted them as gospel. Rubenhold also suggests that the reason they didn’t fight back is that like lots of working class folks in London, when they had nowhere to sleep they slept on the streets. Jack gutted them before they knew he was there.

Of course I wouldn’t have used that last part, as Jack’s ability to mind-control his victims is a big part of the plot. But Rubenhold has done yeoman work detailing the women’s family history, love lives, and the hard luck that led to them ending up in White Chapel late in 1888 (“luck” including alcohol, pregnancy and disease). She’s also very good on the plight of the unemployed working class and the various efforts to help them. Some of her conclusions are too speculative to convince me — she stops short of concluding Mary Kelly was really killed by sex traffickers, but strongly hints at it — but overall it’s an excellent book.

When I wrote Questionable Minds, The Five didn’t exist. When I rewrote it recently, I hadn’t heard of it. And I don’t have the time now to do a last-minute rewrite. While I’ve worked to give the victims some personality, it isn’t as true to the facts as I thought, mostly because I didn’t know how many facts were available.

I still think the book is worth publishing. And reading. And I’ll take whatever criticism comes my way.

#SFWApro. Undead Sexist Cliches cover by Ted Ward, Questionable Minds cover by Samantha Collins.

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Suddenly abortion’s not about “states’ rights”

Much like classic defenses of slavery and Jim Crow, talking about “state’s rights” in abortion debates is a way right-wingers can duck saying what they actually want. Except Lindsey Graham has now called for a national 15-week ban, which the bill’s disingenuous title describes as late-term abortions.

No surprise, at least not to me. The forced-birth movement has never made any secret that what they want is an end to abortion, not merely to return the issue to state government. But given how much pushback the Dobbs decision has already generated, Republicans are not happy Graham has played this card pre-election. Shakezula agrees it’s a lousy political move although some political pundits are struggling to explain how it’s a win for Republican strategy. As witness it’s inspiring more young women to vote.

So no surprise either that Repubs continue lying about what they want. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance, insists the right to abortion (and gay marriage) are perfectly safe. As Alexandri Petri snarks, they’d like you to believe they don’t support Graham’s anti-abortion position (“We just want to ban abortion first in one state, then another, then another, and we want to do that 50 times in total — until all the states have banned abortion! “)

Yesli Vega, a Repub candidate in Virginia, recycles another old lie, that rape won’t get you pregnant: “it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically. Right? You’re forcing it.” This is both wrong and irrelevant: if Vega opposes abortion rights for rape victims, it wouldn’t matter if it’s only one or two people who lose their rights (I’m sure she doesn’t think aborting only a couple of babies is acceptable). She’s factually wrong about rape and pregnancy, but I imagine the point is the same as with the late, unlamented Todd Akin — if rape doesn’t produce pregnancy, women who say they were raped are just lying sluts so obviously no abortions for them!

Meanwhile the Family Research Council lies that abortion is never life-saving. They then whine at being called out for lying — and yes it’s a lie.

Fellow Virginia Republican Jennifer Kiggans grumbles that Dems “are trying to make that the issue to deflect, right, from all of the issues that voters really care about. They’re trying to distract with these shiny objects like the abortion issue.” How dare women inconvenience Kiggans’ political career by caring about their lives?

As for the idea touted by some right-to-lifers that red states will up their support for mothers and children, well, no.

And finally, Baptist News looks at the convoluted interaction of abortion and original sin. And here’s a profile of one activist who helped make abortion an issue.

I go into forced-birth bullshit in more detail in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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The ongoing war against reproductive rights and women

As you may have heard, Kansas voters reasserted the state constitution protects the right to abortion. In Michigan, pro-choice supporters collected more than a million signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in the fall; Republicans on the relevant approval board rejected it because the spacing between words was inconsistent. It’s now up to a judge whether it gets on the fall ballot. No surprise that people who want to assert their dominance over women don’t think women (or anyone) should have a say in refusing.

Abortion restrictions are unpopular so like Blake Masters, many Republican candidates are simply lying about their opposition to abortion. Rep. Michelle Steel in California, for instance, has backed off a no-exemption stance and insists that a nationwide ban is hypothetical so why discuss it? Of course the only reason it’s hypothetical is that Republicans haven’t been able to pass one — yet.

Governor Greg Abbott claimed Texas’ new forced birth law and it’s lack of a rape exemption wasn’t a problem for rape victims because he would see Texas eliminate rape. The arrest rate for rape has dropped by half since he took office but not to worry, rape victims can just take emergency contraception! I’m curious if he sticks to his claim it’s not an abortifacent — after all, despite winning several million in a personal disability lawsuit, he’s fought to immunize Texas from disability lawsuits. And while he says mass shootings are a mental health problem rather than a gun problem, he’s slashed mental health services to spend more fighting illegal immigration.

A number of forced birthers promised that with abortion banned, we’d see a golden age of right-wing legislation to make life easier for mothers, rape victims, children. etc. They lied.  “Sixty-two percent of pregnancies in Mississippi are unplanned, yet Mississippi does not require insurance to cover contraceptives and prohibits educators from demonstrating proper contraceptive use.” Because the only contraception many right-wingers believe in is women refusing sex (unless they’re married, because then they have no choice). However Mississippi was fine taking welfare money and paying Bret Favre to give speeches.

The difficulty of providing abortion training in abortion-ban states may mean some areas lose ob/gyn services.

Even before Dobbs, women, particularly women of color, were often prosecuted for miscarriage because they’d used drugs, whether or not there was a clear connection with the loss of the fetus.

I’ll close with a quote from evangelical writer Norman Geisler (via Slacktivist) that “Birth is not morally necessitated without consent. No woman should be forced to carry a child if she did not consent to intercourse. A violent intrusion into a woman’s womb does not bring with it a moral birthright for the embryo. The mother has a right to refuse that her body be used as an object of sexual intrusion. The violation of her honor and personhood was enough evil without compounding her plight by forcing an unwanted child on her besides. … the right of the potential life (the embryo) is overshadowed by the right of the actual life of the mother. The rights to life, health, and self-determination — i.e., the rights to personhood — of the fully human mother take precedence over that of the potentially human embryo.”

As always, you can find more on this topic in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. It came out pre-Dobbs, but it’s still timely.

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Dying is easy — indexing is hard!

(For the source of my title, click here).

But it’s done. As of this morning, I finished the index for Alien Visitors. This afternoon I reread McFarland’s instructions for indexing, corrected some errors, and proofed the whole thing.

I’ve also completed the list of errors in the text, though I still have to add notes identifying them. Fortunately I figured out how to do that in PDF. The big challenge will be that as I got the galleys — used to be we’d get edited proofs first — the pagination can’t change. So if there’s anything deleted or added that would affect the following page, I have to make a counterbalancing addition or deletion so the text stays constant. In a couple of spots, this will be a challenge.

It’s doable though. I’ll have it done by the end of the month, then take the first two days of September through Labor Day (maybe Labor Day) off.

I’m impressed to see that like so many writers, a deadline can push me beyond my limits. I’ve put in way more hours than usual this week to get the job finished. Unfortunately some of that time came out of things like exercising, which is not optional. And reading, which is optional, but not really (I can’t do without it for too long). Besides which, this isn’t creative work. Indexing and proofing requires close attention to detail but I never have to stop and ask myself what comes next or whether what I’ve written works. Accuracy is all I need. So I doubt this heralds a sudden boost in my productivity, but you never know …

And then there’s the dogs. The photo above is from a recent trip to doggie rehab — they both need it for different reasons — when Plushie decided he wanted to be drive. He didn’t get his wish, but I’m sure you knew that.

The past two weeks, though, have been less cute. First we took them in for dental checkups. Trixie was in good shape but Plushie, who resists tooth-brushing, had to have two teeth removed, plus the under-the-gums stumps from some previous effort. That meant nothing but soft food for a week, which is a problem since it excluded most of his treats. Fortunately they think pasta is delicious so I made a couple of extra pots of it and fed him that.

This week, repeated jumping off the bed upstairs threw his back out again. He’s on cage rest and heavy painkillers for ten days or possibly a little longer. That makes caring for him more complicated — we have to carry him up the stairs — though it’s easier to concentrate on work when he’s not right in my personal space. Except when he gives the agonized “my foot is caught in a bear trap, I’m suffering!” whine for being caged (no, it’s not because of pain. Trust me). However the pain meds are taking care of that by keeping him zonked.

All in all, a good week, if not exactly a lively one.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.

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