Tag Archives: Wisp

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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Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, 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

It’s the Wild Kingdom around here this week

Once again, TYG is growing some basil in planters on our deck. The herbs in one planter are doing absolutely awful, which puzzled us. However I think I’ve found the answer—they’re being crushed under several pounds of cat!

Wisp is definitely comfortable out on the deck. She’s also trying to get closer to Trixie. A couple of times she’s come in and nuzzled Trixie before being distracted by food. Trixie’s reaction the second time was to spin wildly around.

Unfortunately we’ve had to postpone further experiments along this line. Wisp has a wound on her side, probably from one of her catfights, and we don’t want to risk exposing the dogs to whatever germs might be in it. We’ve been trying to gauge whether it’s getting worse or better the past week, but she doesn’t stay still long enough for us to really tell. It might be scabbing over; it might be getting worse. Though she’s still as lively as ever when she moves, so it can’t be too bad.

Monday we tried setting out the cat trap again, figuring that if she went into it we’d take her to our vet and let her check out the wound (TYG’s idea. I think it’s very sweet of her). Unfortunately she seems to remember this didn’t go well last time: even with a small bowl of tuna beyond the pressure plate that closes the trap, she wouldn’t go in. After a day without her eating, we compromised: Tuesday morning I set her food out inside the trap, but close to the entrance. Hopefully we can get her used to going inside until … gotcha (too bad she’s not as dumb as Plushie. He never thinks twice where food is involved).

This will probably not be fast enough to treat her wounds, but it’s coming up on time for her to get booster shots (we got her initial round last year when we had her fixed), so we’ll need to do it eventually.

Fortunately none of our new behaviors are freaking her out enough to stay away. She is, after all, our cat now, sort of.

Not so fortunately, when I opened the blinds this morning to see if she was waiting for breakfast, I found the trap had been sprung. But not by her.

This guy (female?) wandered in to lick out the plates, I guess. And wandered all the way back and triggered the pressure plate. I lifted up the gate (with a stick, I wasn’t sure I should get close), but he just stayed still until we were gone, and then for a while afterwards. He was remarkably chill about the whole thing.

Oh, and to round out the week, Wednesday morning TYG and a woman dropping her kid off at the bus stop spotted a hornet’s nest in our magnolia tree.

Hornets being aggressive, and Plushie liking to poop under the tree — not to mention it’s right near a bus stop — we decided to call Orkin, who took care of it. If it had been in a better place, we might have tried coexistence.

Quite a lively week.

#SFWApro. Photograph is mine.

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