Tag Archives: Wisp

Bruce Lee, Andre Norton, Agatha Heterodyne and Cats: books read

Reading Nerds of Color‘s post on how Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood disrespects Bruce Lee got me curious to read about the legendary kung fu star. Fortunately the library had BRUCE LEE: A Life by Matthew Polly, chronicling, Bruce’s story from hyperkinetic mixed-race child actor (his nickname as a kid was “Never sits still”) to teenage brawler and street punk to cha-cha fanatic to gung fu master, and all of that before he began his climb to become Hollywood’s first Chinese superstar. Martial arts movies and Asian-American actors are so much more common now (though obviously Hollywood’s still solidly white-dominated) that it was a shock to realize how out there Lee’s ambitions seemed at the time, and how much discrimination he had to deal with (one newspaper article on Lee actually worked “Rotsa Ruck” into the headline). Nor did he have it easy in Hong Kong, where initial enthusiasm for the hometown boy’s success was later shaded by concerns Lee’s biracial heritage meant he wasn’t Chinese enough. Very good.

TREY OF SWORDS by Andre Norton (striking cover by Charles Mikolaycak) is set in Escore roughly during the events of Warlock of the Witch World. The characters are a stock type in this series: Yonan and Crytha, both mixed-race, both orphans, both uncertain where they fit in and Yonan crushing on an oblivious Crytha. The first two sections of the book involve Yonan discovering the magical Sword of Ice (or vice versa — the Sword chooses it’s wielders) and alongside an ancient warrior traveling back in time to avert one of the Dark’s great triumphs in Escore’s past. The effects of this in the present aren’t really dwelt with, except Crytha, who has just enough untapped power to be vulnerable to the Dark’s control, encounters some of the leftover villains of that battle and has to choose her own destiny. I can’t say this really grabbed me but that’s partly because I read it while I was surfeited with dog care and unable to focus. It does have an unusual end for a Witch World book in that Crytha doesn’t come to return Yonan’s feelings, and chooses a life alone to study her craft.

GIRL GENIUS: The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne: The Incorruptible Library by Phil and Kaja Foglio continues Agatha’s adventures as the threat of the mind-controlling Other looms over Europe and Agatha and her crew penetrate the catacombs under Paris in search of a McGuffin that … well, actually I’m not quite sure. There are so many characters, plot threads and character bits that I found it impossible to keep everything straight. It was still amusing (“I write love poetry about cheese.”) and I still look forward to the next volume, but it wasn’t very coherent.

YOUR CAT: The Owner’s Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises and Solutions for Raising a Happy, Healthy Cat by Dr. Marty Becker didn’t actually have any surprises as it covers the same material as the other cat books I’ve read recently. Which isn’t a criticism of the book — if it had been the first one I picked up, I’d have liked it fine — but I wound up skimming most of it. The chapter on cat training may come in useful though.

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


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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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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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John Le Carré, sex, the south and cats: books read

My general reaction to “famous author returns to world of legendary early work” is to cringe, because the results usually suck. John Le Carré’s A LEGACY OF SPIES was therefore a pleasant surprise, as Peter Guillam — a former aide to George Smiley — learns that The Spy Who Came In From the Cold has a son who’s now suing Peter and the British government for getting his father killed. Investigating the real story plunges Peter back into the Cold War to show how the scheming in Spy was partly to unmask the traitor Smiley and Control suspected in their organization (instead the mole wouldn’t be outed until Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) I could have done with less of the spycraft details (they don’t seem as important as when Cold War espionage was current events) but overall very good; I find it encouraging for my future that Le Carré could turn out something this readable at 86 years old. I have now read all of Le Carré’s novels until he writes another — though I may get around to his autobiography at some point.

THE LONG SEXUAL REVOLUTION: English Women, Sex and Contraception, 1800-1975 by Hera Cook looks at how England went from discomfort and ignorance over sex, women’s pleasure and methods of contraception to the sexual revolution and the acceptance of birth control and optional parenthood. Very informative about how uninformed people were, and how they coped (wives refusing to put out was a common solution — maybe that’s why today’s religious right rejects marital rape), how male privilege was the default setting (it was argued condoms were a bad idea because they made it impossible for the man to act on impulse) and how big a difference effective birth control made — Cook is writing partly to refute previous arguments that the sexual revolution wasn’t all that. Dry and specialized, but informative.

THE LONG SOUTHERN STRATEGY: How Cashing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics by Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields argues that the GOP’s success has effectively spread Southern standards of racism, religion and gender nationwide, though the only point I was interested in was the gender aspect. While this made a couple of interesting points — it reminds me a lot of Mothers of Invention in discussing the restricted role of Southern womanhood — it’s mostly political information I already know, though backed up by a lot more polls and stats.

77 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GETTING A CAT: The Essential Guide to Preparing Your Family and Home for a Feline Companion by Susan M. Ewing is a competent Getting A Cat book but doesn’t tell me anything my previous reading on this topic didn’t.


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Beans, arsenic, books and cats: books read

Back in the 1980s I heard about Eclipse’s Tales of the Beanworld as a remarkable indie comic but I don’t recall seeing an issue (though one of the characters did turn up in Eclipse’s crossover event, Total Eclipse). Reading THE BEANWORLD OMNIBUS by Larry Marder makes me appreciate that “remarkable” understates it.

This is set in a world of living beans, most of whom look alike except for the female scientist Proffy and the beans’ champion, Mr. Spook (battling above against one of the Goofy Service Jerks). They exist in a weird alternate reality where they hunt for food across the dimensions, bask in the love of the mighty tree Gran’ma’pa and celebrate life with both music and art. Plus subplots such as Mr. Spook pondering his destiny, the birth of a batch of baby beans and one bean, Beanish, falling in love with some sort of sun goddess (Dreamish). None of which gives the flavor of this thing. I utterly loved it, and I look forward to getting the second omnibus.

THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH by Martin Edwards is a competent British mystery novel in a series about a Lake District cold-case detective who in this story reluctantly takes up an old missing-woman case a reporter has dragged back to public attention. When someone calls the reporter and insists the woman is definitely dead and not just vanished, the pressure ratchets up; then when they finally find the woman’s body, it turns out her corpse isn’t alone. This one was just “meh” for me; I’d gotten it because Edwards’ writing about the Golden Age of Mysteries sparked my interest, but it’s a conventional contemporary rather than a retro mystery.

WHEN BOOKS WENT TO WAR: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning looks at the immense efforts by librarians, publishers and the military to provide cheap books to the troops for reading during those long periods of boredom between combat. The most memorable accomplishment was the Armed Service Editions, small, portable and cheap editions of popular books GIs could carry around with them (the excellent paperback history Two-Bit Culture says that making them cheap and disposable protected against a glut of used books hitting the post-war market). Selections ranged from The Great Gatsby (Manning says it was the GIs reading it that turned it from Forgotten to Classic — I wish she’d gone into more detail), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (beloved for giving the guys a nostalgic taste of home), H.P. Lovecraft and the historical romance Forever Amber (quite hot by the standards of the time). Good, though when Manning goes into background on WW II history, I just skipped over it.

THE CAT’S HOUSE by Bob Walker details how the author made multiple special remodels for his growing family of cats, such as building walkways up near the ceiling. Not terribly useful for me in planning for Wisp, alas.

#SFWapro. Cover by Larry Marder, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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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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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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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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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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