Tag Archives: Wisp

Did I mention I sold a story this week?

I did? Well here’s another link to it anyway. And to my currently free e-book, Philosophy and Fairytales. That sales lasts through April 20. And I have an article on bystanders in Golden Age Batman stories up on Atomic Junkshop (the cover to the right is actually from the late 1950s, by Sheldon Moldoff).

Now, as to new work: this was a fairly good week. A lot of extra dog care in the mornings, but I still managed to be productive (though as usual not as productive as I think I should be). I’m doing my best to squeeze out as much of my own work as possible before my Leaf articles start up again.

I rewrote one of my older stories The Glory That Was, for reading to the writer’s group next week (one of our Zoom meetings). I’d thought I’d just touch it up to fix a few flaws, but I wound up writing it in rotating first-person POV (Elizabeth, Molly and Dianne) which took a lot more time than planned. I think it’s vastly improved, but we’ll see what the group thinks. That used up most of my short-story writing time, so a couple of other stories I’d planned to work on, I didn’t get to.

I finished another chapter of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. I’m approaching the climax now, and once again it’s going to take a lot of changes; characters who were alive are now dead, KC knows much more about how things work than she did and I have no idea how to explain the rest without massive info-dumping. But my gut’s steered me well so far, so hopefully it’ll keep guiding me right.

I got a massive amount of the abortion/birth control chapter in Undead Sexist Cliches done and footnoted. There’s still quite a bit left as the forced-birth movement spews out so much bullshit. For example, Human Life International argues that having consensual sex while using birth control is rape. That’s one of many.

I also read aloud several chapters of Questionable Minds and noted down the points where it needs editing, either for typos or because my phrasing is poor.

Trixie is doing much better. She’s able to take short walks of up to five minutes at a time, which is much more fun for her. Easier for us too, as I can wait longer for her to make a poop before hauling her inside. And she’s so happy walking and enjoying the outdoors (the photo below shows her doing it a couple of years back, when she was at her shaggiest).


Unfortunately, she’s increasingly determined and eager to jump up and down and run wherever she wants, so it’s essential to watch her constantly. We now have a cage upstairs and one down so wherever she is, we can lock her up if we have to do something (use the restroom, cook, whatever).

We’ve decided to try bringing Wisp into the house once Trixie’s back to full health. That gives us about six weeks to work out the details. This week she came up and sat with me on the couch again a couple of times; one time was during a Zoom “Shut Up and Write” meeting and as soon as the voices came over the computer, she ran.

Have a great weekend everyone. Stay safe.

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

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

In spite of her rage, she is still just a chihuahua/cairn terrier mix in a cage

So Monday we took Trixie in for surgery on her bad knee. She’s improved a lot since the accident, but it doesn’t look like she’s going to heal completely, so this is the best option. But not an easy option. Because we have eight weeks of crate rest ahead, and she has to wear the cone of shame for the first two weeks to avoid licking her stitches and infecting them. A week and a half to go! But the vet says the surgery went well, so we’re not going to screw it up.

Wisp came in Tuesday, after Trixie was back from the hospital and seemed quite intrigued by the set-up. Trixie, not so much. She’s getting less petting and cuddles, can’t sleep in the bed with us — misery for my little snuggler. But I make sure to make time for opening the cage and giving her some attention.

Fortunately it’s okay for her to stand on the leg and walk a couple of steps, so taking her for potty breaks isn’t as frustrating as when she first injured her leg. She’s much more likely to go rather than decide it’s too uncomfortable; I hope that’s a good sign.

Plushie is baffled why he can’t play and rough-house with her, but he’s been baffled by that since she got injured. Come to think of it, he’s baffled quite a lot; he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Trixie spends most of the day upstairs with TYG, but comes down for medical care. TYG takes care of the meds, I walk Trixie and do the physical therapy her leg requires. So far everything’s going smoothly; the real challenge will probably be in a month when she feels ready to run and jump and we’ll have to discourage her. Positive thoughts and/or prayers appreciated.

And while Trixie and Plushie were both upstairs yesterday, Wisp came in. I didn’t want to stop work so I just stayed on the couch and she jumped up and went to sleep next to me. It was delightful, and if she’ll keep doing that, it’ll be easier to have her around without losing my workflow.#SFWApro. Photos are mine


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This week’s challenges: Sickness, snow and scheduling

The scheduling issue came up Sunday. I’ve been putting in three hours of writing on Sunday for a couple of months now as I get so wiped out at the end of the Monday-Friday work days. Three hours Sunday, I can stop earlier and give myself a little break before walking and feeding the dogs. But as my lunch breaks have been quite short this month — with Trixie’s leg, they aren’t getting long walks — so I figured I could skip Sunday, get my work done in the afternoons and still finish up before dinner walkies.

And I mostly did, but there much less of a break at the day’s end than I’d expected. Either Plush dog got a longer walk than usual or there was some other distraction I was dealing with on lunch hour. For example, Wisp demanding petting. Plus, I suspect the sickness that has me in its grip today was already dragging me down.Wisp, has by the way, been a constant companion on our short walks. I wish I could capture just snuggling with the dogs but Plushie sniffing her but is as close as I’ve managed so far.

Sickness has been a bigger problem. TYG caught a bug last week, probably by the usual transmission process of kids to parents, parents to coworkers, which means her. At first it didn’t seem like there’d be much of a problem, but the past couple of days I’ve had the inflammation and irritation in my throat I repeatedly get. I’m doing my best to stay relaxed not talk and talk all appropriate meds as I have some presentations to make at the end of next week (details will follow). I’d really, really like to be able to make them and losing my voice would make that impractical.

And of course, feeling sick does not do my writing any good. Today I just wiped out in the late morning, so I did this blog post and I’m calling it a day. Unless I revive in the afternoon; I’m not betting on it.

And then snow, of all things, descended on us (and the rest of Durham) yesterday. Given temperatures we thought it wouldn’t stick, but it has. Fortunately it looks like the roads are clear so we should be A-OK if we need to drive anywhere. And TYG picked up food Thursday morning, so that’s taken care of. As long as we take care walking the dogs, we should be fine.

Now as to work … I did my Leafs for the week, though in my depleted state they took much longer than they should have. I also drafted Impossible Takes a Little Longer up to Chapter 23, which was my goal for the month; I won’t have much time for fiction next week so that’s a win. I also worked on a first draft and got a big leap forward this morning when the bad guy finally emerged from my unconscious. I might have finished the draft today but … no. I might squeeze it in next week

I also tidied and footnoted the first section of Chapter Seven of Undead Sexist Cliches. It’s on sexual harassment so there’s no shortage of examples.

Wish me luck for a better next week. I have a lot I want to be in good health for.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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It was just like what Goldfinger did to James Bond, sort of!

So due to Trixie’s ongoing knee injury, the vet recommended laser treatment. Not surgery, they use a laser wand and this apparently stimulates the healing some. I was initially skeptical but reading online convinced us it was legit and hey, she’s our little girl, so …

Couldn’t actually get a shot during the treatment itself — as we have to wear special glasses, I was afraid it might glitch the camera in my phone.

It does seem to perk her up a lot, although that may be just time and rest. After Monday’s laser session she actually wore herself out getting petted by a little girl who lives near us. Tuesday she was back limping, but Wednesday she was much better again. I keep hoping we can avoid surgery: better for her, at least in the short-term, and better for us (monitoring her recovery would be difficult).

So not much like Goldfinger after all.In other news, it was pouring rain Tuesday and so I set Wisp’s breakfast inside the French doors.

As rain doesn’t usually deter her, I was surprised that she didn’t want to leave and wound up staying for half-an-hour. If I didn’t worry she’d get up to mischief, I’d have just gotten up and left her, but I’m not sure how well that will work. I need to learn, though. As I’ve said before, she may be ready to be an indoor/outdoor cat sooner than we’re prepared for her.

#SFWApro. All rights to poster remain with current holder, photos are mine.

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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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