Month: July 2012

The end of the beginning

Here’s recent progress on my 19th century D.C. spy caper about a powerful Difference Engine that will end the Civil War – now with warhawk conspiracies, clockwork assassins, two presidents with more in common than they know, two spies with less in common than they think, a conflicted U.S. Marshal, and Bonus! not-at-all mad scientist who can save the world if someone will just give him a chance:

    Project: Fiddlehead
    Deadline: September 15, 2012 (LOOK WHO ISN’T PANICKING)
    New words written: 7865 (ye gods this is awful)
    Present total word count: 21,510 words

    Things accomplished in fiction: All the players are in place, conspiracies are established, allies aren’t always friends – and the reverse.

    Things accomplished in real life: Finished up travel, sent all houseguests home, and then invited a four-footed one to come stay on a permanent basis. BUT NOW, NO FOR SERIOUS – STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT – I am on the daily writing pony (his name is Fred) and you can expect decent metrics henceforth, because baby, it is death-march time.

    In My Defense: I am very, very happy with what I have so far. I’ve spent the last couple of work-days revisiting the first few chapters and making sure everything works – fixing what doesn’t, re-jiggering a few characters, and sorting out what people’s actual motivations are, as opposed to their apparent ones. The last couple of projects I’ve gotten underway … I didn’t do this to a sufficient degree, and my drafts suffered for them. This time, I really do feel like I’m building the novel on a solid-ass bedrock of Plot That Makes Sense.

    Other: I bet you thought Plot That Makes Sense was like, step one or something. HA. That is step If I Get Around To it, also known as, step My Editor Will Kill Me If I Don’t Fix This Before She Sees It.

    Bride of Other: As for the cat and dog, slowly but surely they are making peace. Or collaborating on my demise. Hard to tell. If you want more regular dog updates and pictures – by which I mean, if you want to get absolutely sick of dog updates and pictures – keep an eye on my Twitter account.

    Son of Other: Look, I tried to restrain myself from posting a puppy video but I think we all know what my self-control is like these days, so here you go.

But if you’re willing to play the game

Well, the shy and nervous – but charmingly optimistic – dog we brought home on Sunday is coming out of his shell quite nicely. At first he was terrorized by such frightening phenomenons as televisions, mirrors, and the ice dispenser; but now he lounges on the nice, cool fireplace tiles while we watch the nightly news, and hangs out around the refrigerator if he sees someone grabbing a glass from the cabinet … on the off chance someone will give him an ice cube to kick around the kitchen.

Mirrors are still pretty freaky, though. And he’s still most comfortable in that back guest room, which he’s set up to be his own personal “den.” He retreats there for naps and quiet time with his chewy toys, and generally speaking, if you haven’t seen or heard from him in awhile, that’s probably where he is.

He has a very good innate sense of what is a toy, and what is not a toy – and therefore not to be played with. It’s charming, really – unless you’re the cat, who doesn’t particularly care for this dog picking up her catnip mousies or monster eyes* and adding them to his toy fort in the guest room – and not very charming for me, either, because I’m scared to death that he’ll swallow one.

(Oh hello there Ms. Doctor Vet Lady – that zombie eyeball you retrieved from the dog’s gullet? That’s a cat toy. No, seriously. Please don’t call the police.)

The only exception to this rule so far is the blue shower pooftie he found on the bathroom floor … and proudly added to the fort. I took it away from him. It’s made of plastic, and he’s still teething, so he’s chewing like a little mofo right now.

And yes, he has a toy fort. He built it himself.

In other news, he is being very good about this whole housebreaking thing. His hit rate is about 90 percent right now, and so far today, we haven’t had any accidents – knock on wood – though there were a couple of hitches yesterday and the day before, as he decided that one of the dog beds was HIS because LOOK he has WIDDLED ALL OVER IT even though he shows exactly zero interest in sleeping upon it.** There has also been an accident re: the rug in the bedroom, which is, at least, a very dark rug … and all hail the Woolite carpet/fabric cleaner with Oxyclean in it, because that shit is magic designed by wizards anyway that’s my theory and I’m pretty sure of it.

But he’s definitely made the connection in his head between “going outside to do business” and “coming inside to get a cookie.” In fact, he’s made the connection so well that when he wants a second cookie short on the heels of the first one, he’ll lure me outside again … squat, force a small dribble that could be condensation for all I know, and run triumphantly back into the kitchen where he sits right next to the dog cookie jar and gives me The Look.

The Look says, “We both know I just did exactly what you want, and if you don’t give me a cookie, I may decide that next time, I’ll take another crack at that rug.” So I give him a goddamn cookie.

As for the cat, she remains largely apathetic toward his presence. She doesn’t precisely avoid him, but she doesn’t go out of her way to hang out with him, either. And Greyson treats her like she’s being protected by a force field. He won’t get closer than a few feet, but then he lies down and tries to be the Best Dog Ever so that the little black cat will come over and be his friend, and when this doesn’t work, he barks wildly in case he can convince her that he is TOTALLY HARMLESS AND LOVABLE by SHOUTING IN HER FACE.

(We’re actually kind of glad to hear him bark, because at first, we almost wondered if he knew how. He never made a peep, except for the previously mentioned whimper on the way home … a whimper which preceded a few rounds of barfing, but that’s not so much a sound as an activity accompanied by a sound, God help us.)

Spainy is not impressed with the barking. Greyson is starting to figure this out, and in this most recent friendship-attempt or two, he’s dropped all the way to the ground, flattened himself there, and stayed very, very still … in case he can lure her close with this pretense and then as soon as she’s bought into the ruse he can LEAP UP AND LICK HER SENSELESS.

Anyway. The cat remains largely untraumatized. She just walks away from him, plants herself someplace conspicuous enough to make clear that she is NOT HIDING FROM HIM thank you very much, and then deliberately, insultingly, she naps. But she’s becoming a tad more receptive each day – letting him get closer and closer. I can now sit between them, with one hand petting each animal. It sends Greyson into paroxysms of anticipatory cat-licking delight; but Spain merely tolerates it while pretending that he doesn’t exist.

But soon. Soon, she’ll crack. Or decide she feels sorry for him. And one of these days, they’ll hang out like old pals. I bet.

[Edited to add: Pictures? You want pictures? Or maybe some adorable videos? I got your hookup right here.]

* I found a bag of these things on sale for a couple of bucks after Halloween, while I was out kicking around Ballard with Kat. They’re exactly what they sound like – textured ping-pong balls decorated to look like zombie eyeballs. The kitty can’t get enough of them, because they’re light and kickable, but they don’t roll evenly … so every swat’s an adventure!
** The little bastard did it again, WHILE I WAS WRITING THIS POST. So I cleaned up the bed (it has a leatherette cover, at least) and tossed it up into the attic. Fuck that noise. He knew he’d done something bad, too, even before I shouted at him and threw him out of the room. I wish to God I understood what it was about that stupid bed. [Edited to add: Ms. Spyder reminds me of something that might have been significant.]

Greyson’s First Favorite Thing