Tag Archives: snowdrop

The law of Proteus: all things change

When I started October, one of my goals was to push my daily output up to six hours of writing from 5.5. Not a huge increase, but an extra 2.5 hours a week isn’t anything to sneeze at.

I’m a little surprised that it worked: I’ve been able to keep up work at that pace, taking breaks so that I don’t fry my mind before work ends for the day. Though the distraction such as dragging Snowdrop to the vet

mean I’ve wound up putting in less total time each week than I normally do. Still, putting in six hours a day in October — far fewer events scheduled — should produce good results.

But as I’ve mentioned before, when you’re living with other people, time management is never smooth. As TYG’s job became increasingly demanding the past couple of years, she’s been getting up earlier — easier to get stuff done when nobody at work is awake to demand help — and going to be earlier. Now she’s in a job which is much less of a pressure cooker. She’s staying awake later and getting up later. Having adjusted to her early cycle, I’m now having to adjust back.

Well, not “have” to. But I like going to bed with her and snuggling, and so I’m staying up later. As I can’t get my body to get up much later — that’s always been a weakness of mine — I sometimes wind up shortchanged on sleep. Then, because TYG’s rising later, we take the dogs out later (dawn shifting later in the morning plays a role in that too) which pushes the time to start work later in the morning.

The best solution would be to start work in the stretch between me finishing breakfast and the dogs coming down. That’s hard to make myself do because I have no idea how much time I’ll have and it’s difficult to start something knowing I might have to cut it short at any second. That may be what it takes, though. I’ll give it a shot next week.

Workwise, this was a routine week. A bunch of articles of Leaf, another of those accounting articles — and my client absolutely gushing about how much they liked last week’s article. That’s always nice. Oh, and I got a request to do an advance review for Questionable Minds so I sent that out Tuesday. Now I just hope they like it …#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

A cat, a tortoise and an opossum walk into a bar …

Just some random animal photos from recent weeks. First, Snowdrop, snug in his planter.

Then we have this guy whom I helped across the road. Though TYG told me afterwards that they prefer being lifted from under their belly rather than by the shell. I didn’t know.And then we have Pogo II or III (I’m not sure, but they don’t live long) feasting off leftover cat food.#SFWApro.

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Clawed by Cats! Clobbered by Computers!

No, not literally clawed, thank goodness. Neither Snowdrop nor Wisp seems inclined to get physical, even when the dogs get in their grill. But Snowdrop did tear up a chunk of writing time for me this week.

As our cats live outdoors most of the time, catching them for the annual checkup is hard. We caught Wisp in July and now it’s Snowdrop’s turn. We couldn’t get him last week but I’d already made a backup appointment for Tuesday the 13th. Monday night, while I was hosting my Shut Up and Write Zoom group, TYG called me down. Some years back she bought a pole-and-lasso contraption to catch Wisp, but it never worked — until now. However, ensnaring Snowdrop in the loop did not get him into the cage for transport so she needed my help.

Eventually we caged him, but not before he’d astonished up by running up the blinds on the French doors and then up the outside of a bookcase. Of course, once he was caught we were in for hours of plaintive meowing, and more in the morning. So my regular morning routine went out the window, plus I was the one who had to take him to the vet (my freelancing schedule is way more flexible than TYG’s time).

It used to be they’d tranquilize the cats before examining them, but they’ve moved away from that now. Which is good, except that meant I stuck around with Snowdrop instead of coming back hours later. You can see him below, looking at me and hoping for rescue. He didn’t get it.To my surprise, he didn’t put up a fight at all, but let the vets examine him, give him his shots and so forth. He’s in great shape (yay!) and not overweight (yay again!). I took him home, then we let him out in the backyard. He didn’t bear us a grudge and was quite happy to accept petting later.

Now, as to the computer: my laptop has been suffering from keys sticking for a while but it’s been getting really bad lately. I cleaned out the keyboard with compressed air but it didn’t improve things enough, so Monday I ordered a new laptop. Arrival: Wednesday.

Or so I thought. Because I added memory, they couldn’t just take one off the rack and the delivery date is Oct. 5. I didn’t realize that — they didn’t exactly highlight that detail — so Tuesday afternoon after getting back from the vet I just blew work off, ditto Wednesday morning. Why work with a glitchy keyboard when I’d have a smooth-operating computer so soon?

That’s a couple of days I won’t get back. I’m annoyed at my inefficiency, though I still finished one of my paying accounting articles. And I got most of my advance promotional work for Questionable Minds done Monday. I also posted at Atomic Junkshop about the New Mutants team and Richard Powers’ cover art.For really good news, I got my payments from Draft2Digital for a couple of books that sold this summer. And my golem article came out in Jews in Popular Science Fiction at last.I haven’t read it yet but the table of contents looks interesting.Being published makes up for a lot. Have a great weekend everyone.

#SFWApro. Rights to book covers remain with current holder.

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I thought Wisp was a bush cat?

“Bush cat” meaning that she prefers ground level to climbing. Outside of settling on the back of the couch she doesn’t climb onto anything indoors, and not much outside. However …

Saturday morning we went out to walk the dogs. We heard a persistent, worried meowing but we couldn’t find the cat. We saw Snowdrop in the area but it clearly wasn’t him making the noise. Finally TYG looked up and realized we couldn’t track the sound because it was coming from overhead. Wisp had climbed up 20-30 feet and she was now sitting in the crook of a tree branch, asking for help getting down. Snowdrop stuck around for moral support I guess.

I called the Durham Fire Department but it turns out that contrary to TV, they don’t get cats out of trees. TYG figured Wisp could probably do it herself if we offered an incentive so I went inside and brought out a bowl of kibble. Right after that she started climbing down, the cat way — backwards.She made it down but did not eat the food or seem to want us close. Within a day, however, she was back to being her usual affectionate self.

We have no idea what drove her up there. Coyote would be the obvious choice. I suppose it could have been some human cat hater, too. Either way, it’s a relief she’s safe at ground level again.

#SFWApro.

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Three good days, two that tanked

The work week went well up until Wednesday night.

We had a massive thunderstorm so Plushie freaked out, as he always does. When he’s that nervous, he doesn’t eat which meant we couldn’t give him his evening drugs. So we decided to wait out the storm which meant we got to bed close to 10. Not so late, but we’re usually asleep around 8:30. I wake up around 3:30 — and sure enough, that’s what I did. Coupled with several bad nights of sleep earlier in the week, I was too zonked on Thursday to do anything productive.

Thursday night we stayed up to about the same time because TYG was watching something on the TV. I got a full night of sleep but that meant waking up late and getting very little done before TYG and the dogs were up. Might have recovered on an ordinary morning but we had an appointment at Quartet — the dogs’ physical rehab place — so the morning was chunked up into small bits. So another day not getting anything done.

That said, I did get three productive days in. I redrafted Don’t Pay the Ferryman which I’m retitling something like Reflections in Dark Mirrors (I’d use Grin of the Dark but Ramsey Campbell beat me to it); I’m not sure the shorter ending is quite where it needs to be but I may send it out just to get feedback. I also started redrafting a short story called (for now) Obalus. It’s got a great set-up but the finish of the previous draft was a hand-wave. I’m not sure how to fix that yet. Oh, I also submitted a couple of shorts, though I got one back from a previous round of submissions.

I spent Wednesday drafting up article queries for various markets. I tend to dither when I do this, delaying until I’m completely satisfied the query is perfect. This time, while I was slower than I needed to be, I came up with three ideas and sent them out. I need to do that much more often.

I finished the 20,000 words I wanted to get done on Impossible Takes a Little Longer, once again because I could transplant a lot of material from the last draft with little changes. I think I’ve solved some of the problems I wrote about Wednesday but the new stuff and the old stuff still fit together awkwardly. But I think the components of a good book are there — I simply have to put them in the right order, tied together the right way. Easy to say, tougher to do, of course.

So a good week, but I still miss the two days I got nothing done. But I did get a great close up of Snowdrop.#SFWApro.

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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, Writing

A tale of two cats

Cat the first: Snowdrop.  While I was off on vacation, he stopped showing up for food. Or possibly, as I get up earlier than TYG, he just showed up in the wee hours, found nobody was responding to his presence, and gave up for a bit.

Either way, after five days had elapsed without his presence, we were worried. We talked about how maybe some family had found him, trapped him in their garage and stuffed him with treats, but we both assumed he was more likely in a coyote’s stomach. But Saturday morning I came down early and he was there. Very hungry and a little needier than usual, very happy to come in for breakfast.We’re happier too.

The second cat was my anniversary gift. It’s 11 years this month, which is supposed to be jewelry or steel. While I was at ConCarolinas, I bought TYG some earrings and a couple of pendant stones she can play with in her crafts room (lapis lazuli and lanzarite). As I’m not a jewelry person, she decided to make my gift non-traditional.

As a small child I’d had a stuffed cat, Stripesy (he was, yes, striped) that I’d taken everywhere with me. When I was six or seven, we were on vacation and I lost him. Or my parents decided they’d had enough of Stripesy and “lost” him for me (that’s a guess, based on nothing). Anyway, TYG found me another striped cat and gave him to me for our anniversary. So here’s Tigsie:He’s not a lookalike for Stripesy but I still find it a very sweet gift.

#SFWApro.

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I am tentatively optimistic I have neither long covid or monkeypox

Which is a roundabout way of saying I spent the past week on vacation in Florida, realm of “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis. in Fort Walton Beach, which is dedicated Trump Country so I doubt vax rates are very high. And, of course, flying there alongside god knows who. But if I don’t show any symptoms this week, I guess masking as much as possible paid off.

I picked the date because I’d missed my sister Tracy the last couple of times she went on stage and last weekend she was directing Daddy’s Girl, a comedy about a diner owner possibly meeting his long-lost daughter. Here’s the set:It’s a fun show (review in the next couple of weeks).

TYG has always mocked me for showing up the recommended 2 hours before departure and treating 90 minutes as the absolute minimum. At 5:30 June 9, though, Raleigh Durham Airport was packed, inside and out.I feel justified.

As the overheads on all the flights were packed, it turns out I made a smart move just bringing my backpack. Only three hard-copy books but I had a ton of ebooks I wanted to catch up on, so that worked out well for me.

During the trip I got to spend time with Tracy, our mutual best friend Cindy and her sister Deborah, and meet their dog, Raven Marie. Raven was initially suspicious about a stranger in the house, but she soon warmed up. She showed this by licking me at every opportunity.

I wound up spending more time with my Dad than anticipated, hanging out at his apartment and driving him on a few errands. That was fine, but left me without much time to see anyone else. It’s been two years-plus since I made it down so I think it’s excusable to prioritize family, but I still feel a little guilty. Next time I go, I’ll plan in advance so that I can see Dad and still make time for friends.

And what the heck, I did get the excitement of following Dad around Publix and Sam’s Club. I also got to use his car for myself which let me visit the waterfront during the morning without having to use Lyft or a rental.It’s pretty on the waterfront.Mostly, anyway.

In addition to the gunk, I also got to see a homeless man washing in Santa Rosa Sound and a woman in a cart riding after a black guy she’d been arguing with and shrieking racial epithets. I thought about intervening but he was easily outdistancing her, she wasn’t drawing a gun or calling cops on him so I stayed back.

I did not sleep well — unless I’m beyond exhausted, I wake up between 3:30 and 5 no matter how late I go to bed. And that’s Eastern time, where the Florida Panhandle is on Central so when my hosts go to sleep at 9 or 9:30, it’s 10-10:30 PM for me.

Even so I relaxed a lot. Nothing that had to be done beyond hanging out and relaxing, and after the past couple of months with TYG’s job, that was a welcome break. Even though I didn’t do any stretching while I was there, my body felt quite relaxed. Even my feet were comfortable, which is interesting. Here at home, they routinely feel so stiff I assumed it was age and arthritis, aggravated by bad posture (I get in some weird positions when Plushie stretches out in my lap). Apparently it’s all posture and none of it’s age. So I can fix it if I just figure out how to sit or how often to get up or whatever it is I was doing in Florida that I don’t do normally. This is cool.

I made it back Wednesday and will resume work this morning. For obvious reasons, no week-in-review post this afternoon as this one covers the week.

I had a great break but it’s good to be back home with TYG, the pups and Wisp. Worryingly, Snowdrop hasn’t shown in four days. Fingers crossed he’s okay (and I hope he comes back soon, because TYG adores him).

#SFWApro.

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A short week but not without merit.

Short because I took today and yesterday off for some fun stuff.

I’d hoped that in the three days remaining, I could finish my Southern Discomfort copy-edit, but I fell short. Just a little too much distraction, a couple of errands and a possible new client for my paying nonfiction. This time it’s an insurance website; they sent me a test article to write which took up a couple of hours of Tuesday morning. Without that, maybe I’d have finished but Southern Discomfort won’t put any money in my pocket for a while to come. Clients help pay the bills, so …

Still, I’m very pleased with how well prioritizing the copy-editing has worked out. None of the feedback I got said anything about “you need to edit this better” but I ran across no end of spelling errors and places where having written a paragraph two different ways, I left both in. Embarrassing. Or where someone makes the same point in two successive scenes. Tackling it so fast made it easy to spot such glitches. Hopefully I still remember them when my break is over.

That was pretty much it. Here’s a photo of Plushie and Snowdrop to brighten your day.#SFWApro

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Cats in a tree

Wisp is what my more experienced cat-loving friends refer to as a ground cat. She doesn’t climb much, preferring to stay on the ground. But once in a while we see her climb a tree.

In this photo she’s defending her position from Snowdrop. We can’t quite figure out their relationship: they hang out a lot but Wisp often bops him on the head. At feeding time, however, Snowdrop shoves her out of the way; if I put down two bowls, he’ll switch from bowl to bowl, depending which one she’s eating it. It’s a blatant dominance move.

Annoyingly, having Snowdrop around to play with or defend her turf from has convinced Wisp to stay outside at night again. Up until March when the weather here began to warm, she’d been coming in most nights for more than a year, sleeping in the spare bedroom. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d relocate and join her. Now, though, she’s regressed. I know, she’s cat, but I still miss seeing her on the bed.

#SFWApro.

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A busy week, a lazy day

Not much to blog about because it was one of my all-Leaf weeks. I’m pleased I got the work done but writing about civil engineering technician job descriptions or how to launch a medical coding business doesn’t make for interesting tales. I did get two more Atomic Junkshop posts in, on bad comic-book takes and how young Captain America is.

My insomnia seems to be fading (yay) and my vertigo is so much better (yay again!). And my birthday today has been nice and lazy. I haven’t taken a day off in a while. It feels good.

So that’s my week-in-review post. Here are photos of cats to wrap up. Snowdrop coming and sitting on the couch by himself is a big step forward for him.#SFWApro.

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