Torvi tales: an overdue post

Torvi

Phil was mucking around with a graphics program and made this 🙂

Torvi turned one on Sept 26, 2018. That was two weeks ago last Wednesday but, at the time, I didn’t have the brain (AKA the wherewithal) to even make a quick post on Facebook about it.

The day job is a continuing challenge to me. It’s been nothing but continual change—and not small or incremental, either—for the past seven years and I think I reached my limit about two years ago. I’ve been running on fumes ever since.

When the latest round of this-is-where-we’re-heading-whether-you-like-it-or-not hit, I was struggling to keep my head above water and my time at home was devoted to finishing up Playing with Fire and trying to do a decent job of critiquing the work of some new writerly friends.

So, I stopped posting my sunrise/sunset and other pics and kept my head down.

Then, Phil’s retirement became official (read real) with a defined last day of work and package. It imposed almost as many burdens/worries as it alleviated, but the decision is made and can’t be taken back.

We’re in for an uncertain time ahead.

Torvi is, as I mentioned in my next chapter post yesterday, still a handful. At Thanksgiving supper last night, I had to keep her on the leash the whole time. She’s just so excited when people come over, and the people she most wants to meet (read jump all over and attack with love) are the least capable of withstanding the Torvi onslaught. I even took her on an extra-long walk yesterday, hoping to burn off some of her energy, but she’d missed her walk the night before as we were out celebrating a friend’s 50th, so it probably just evened out.

She still has fits of bitey-ness, what Phil and I call the pre-poop and post-poop crazies (one because she’s gotta go and the other because she’s so relieved, all she can think to do it take a tear around the house), puts her front paws up on the kitchen counter, dining room table, desk, or other surface, and grabs whatever’s in reach of her toothy maw, and we have to put her in a controlled down (leashing her, getting her to lie down, and stepping on the leash to keep her there) for most evening meals and some breakfasts. Meal times are when she’s most likely to have a fit of the biteys.

Though I walk her twice a day, I still need to get her out to play fetch or recall until she’s burned out. It’s hard to do when I’m pretty burned out myself.

She’s a work-in-progress. Our other two dogs were a year and a half to two years old before they became calm companions.

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Torvi is not amused.

Without further delay, here are the promised Torvi tales:

The skinned knee

As I mentioned, I walk Torvi twice a day, morning and evening. One evening in early August (yes, that’s how long this tale has been waiting for its telling), we were coming home and the light at the intersections changed before I could get to press the walk signal button.

I figured I could do a gentle jog and we’d cross the road in time. It wasn’t something we hadn’t done many times before. We’d even jogged at both obedience classes. Yes, Torvi gets a little excited when I break into a jog, but she usually stays by my side. I thought nothing of it.

This time, Torvi started gambolling about and gambolled right in front of my feet.

I went down, in the middle of the intersection, skinned my knee pretty bad (like, ten-year-old attempts to learn to skateboard bad), bashed up my shoulder through my jean jacket, and lost my glasses. I was mortified. But I didn’t let go of the leash, thank goodness.

Even though all the lanes were filled with waiting vehicles, I didn’t hear one, “are you okay?” I collected myself, retrieved my glasses, and hobbled to the other side of the street. Only then did I think to be miffed at the lack of concern shown by the drivers.

The capri leggings I was wearing were trashed (though, upon consideration later, I thought I should have turned them into bike shorts) and it took the rest of the month for my knee to heal up.

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Gambolling pup.

The toad

Not long afterward, I was taking Torvi out for her pre-bed time pee, and noticed a dark shape moving over the non-lawn. Torvi noticed it before I did and was on it before I could hold her back.

First, she put her mouth on it, and came up with a strange look on her face, licking and drooling. In retaliation for the icky taste, she pounced on the poor thing, but it had already puffed itself up and looked like nothing so much as a stone.

This was the work of seconds and, by the time I hauled her away and further into the yard to do her business, and then into the house, I realized the dark shape had been an innocent toad. And I wasn’t half sure the dear thing had survived Torvi’s attentions.

I got her inside and gave her a big drink of fresh water to get the toad taste out of her mouth. We went to bed, me still worrying about the toad.

It was gone the next morning, though. I like to think it made it to the shelter of the deck (which is where I think it was heading), though it is possible another animal came around and took advantage of the situation. We have foxes, raccoons, and feral cats in the area, any of which could have done the job.

I still say “hi” to our deck toad, though, whether it’s actually there, or not.

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The pic I took on the 26th–happy belated?

My shoes

We’ve been slowly opening the house to Torvi. Initially, we kept all the doors closed and the gate up at the doorway to the side entrance and basement stairs. I’d open the door to whatever room we were in so that we could keep an eye on her and at night, we’d close her in the bedroom with us.

We started by opening the bedroom door at night, but keeping the others closed. Then, we gradually trusted her to have the run of the upstairs until she tore the already ragged bath mat a few new holes, and now we keep the bathroom door shut for the most part.

We’ve started taking the gate down unless Phil’s eating something in his office downstairs, in which case he generally chases Torvi upstairs and puts up the gate himself.

One evening, though, the gate was down and Torvi had gone downstairs for some daddy-time. She generally settles on the old pillows I put down there for her or brings down a toy to chew on. As the sounds of chewing are nothing unusual, Phil didn’t think anything was wrong. Until he got up for a bio-break, and then I heard the shouting from all the way upstairs in my office.

Torvi had taken one of my shoes downstairs and was happily destroying it.

Now, I have foot issues. I’ve had orthotics for years—and yes, they were in the shoes, but, for whatever reason, she hadn’t touched the one in the shoe she chose to chew on—I’ve had plantar fasciitis, and, most recently, compressed fatty pads on my heels. I’d just this year invested in a really good pair of running shoes that have made all the difference. And now it was $200 down the drain, er, the dog’s gullet.

Though there was some great distress, the shoe was chewed and there wasn’t anything I could do that would un-chew it. So, I took the orthotics out of the ruined shoes, tossed the shoes, popped the orthotics into a cheap old pair of walking shoes, and decided to go shopping at my next opportunity.

By the way, the cheap old walking shoes? They’re going to the charity bin. The shoes are still in good shape, but when I took Torvi for her evening walk in those things, it was like walking on slabs of concrete. Even with the orthotics.

Fast-forward to the next day and I’m looking for the same brand and style of running shoe as the pair Torvi had chewed—Saucony Everun. The store was out of stock. So was the other location, not that I’d have driven across town in the moment to get them. I decided to try another pair of Everuns in a different style and size, and decided they’d work. They were $20 cheaper than the style I’d purchased previous and I counted it a win.

Though I’d told the sales associate my dog-gone tale of woe, I repeated my sorry story to the cashier, who, it turns out, was a dog person who knew my pain. She gave me a further discount on the shoes. That’s customer service 🙂

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We now have matching reflective vests for evening walks.

Here ends this riveting edition of Torvi tales.

Doubtless, there will be more to come.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong until next time!

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The next chapter: April 2018 update

Hey, all you writerly people 🙂

Here we are in May, Cinco de Mayo, in fact, and it’s time for my next chapter update.

It’s been a weird few weeks since I made my decision to stop posting every weekend. I had one weekend that was fairly restful, caught a flu and was sick for a week, and have spent the last week frantically catching up at work and at home.

I still think it was a good decision, but I’ll likely have to give it more time before I see real results.

I have formally announced my intention to hand off responsibility for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter, but elections (newsletter-er isn’t an elected position, but volunteer positions are filled at the same time as elected ones are voted upon) aren’t until the May meeting at the end of the month. Also, whoever decides to take over for me won’t do so until the beginning of the new SWG year in September. We usually break for the summer, so the June newsletter would be my last.

I’m still on the program committee and one of its sub-committees for the Canadian Authors Association, but my obligations have not been too onerous there. For now. If that changes, I’ll have to bow out.

On another front that I haven’t discussed much, I’m sad to report that my critique group has imploded. Well I’m two parts sad to one part relieved. I’m sad because I had great hopes, and relieved because it’s one less commitment to fulfill.

Several members were in the process of moving (some internationally) in January and February and so we delayed the start of the critiquing year. One submission has been made and I’ve read and critiqued it, but I haven’t heard from anyone else in the group about an online conference to actually discuss the submission, or anything else moving forward. I’m going to read through the submission one more time, finalize my written comments, and return them to the author. And then I’m going to pull the plug.

I may check out the novel critique group that the SWG runs. I need something. Writing in a feedback void isn’t getting me anywhere. I can continue to write and revise, but unless I can get some other eyes on the work, my revisions will lack direction and I’ll take so much longer to get anything ready for an editor, or for submission to agents or small publishers.

I got my taxes wrangled and, for the first time in a number of years, I’ve has absolutely no income to report from my creative work. No workshops. No panelist honoraria. No prize money. No sales of short fiction or even contributor copies. It’s a bit distressing. I’ve never had much income to report, but I’ve generally had something. It just makes me feel like I’ve been falling back, that it’s not just been my burnout, but something more insidious going on with me.

AprilProgress

I have, however, made strides with regard to my writing practice. For April, I set (or reset) the modest goal of 5,000 words written on Playing with Fire. I managed to write more days than not, and wrote 7,568 words, or 151% of my goal.

I also adjusted my writing goal for the blog given that I’m not posting most weekends. Even though I adjusted my blogging goal to 3,600 words, I wrote only 3,086 words, or 86% of my goal.

My DIY MFA post came in at 1,359 words of my 1,000-word goal, or 136%, and the SWG newsletter was 5,333 words of my 4,000-word goal, or 133%. Admittedly, the newsletter is not all my writing. I have submissions from the membership and the contests and inspirational quotes are found online and copied. Still, I have to fill in gaps, edit, format, and cobble all the disparate parts of the newsletter together into a more or less cohesive whole.

Overall, I wrote 128% more in the month than I set out to, and that makes me happy.

Though it was May 1st, I was able to attend one literary event, the staged reading of the latest iteration of Kim Fahner’s play, “Sparrows Over Slag.”

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Here are the actors, Morgan St. Onge, Matthew Heiti, and Sarah Gartshore.

Kim also had an artist talk afterward during which she explained the impetus for the play and its development.

On the Torvi front, we’re one class away from graduating from the beginner obedience class at Skiplyn Kennels, only to jump right into the intermediate class. Torvi is still a challenge. The second biggest problem now is her propensity to get up on counters, tables, desks, grab whatever she can get her teeth on, and run. She also jumps on people. We’ve been persistent with telling her to get off, and pushing her off, but she still hasn’t gotten the message.

The biggest problem is that she’s started peeing in the house again. We thought we had this licked, but no. So now we’re pacing around the yard reciting “do your pee” until she complies. She’s still distracted by everything. Even if she asks to go out, she forgets what she’s there for once she sees a bird, or squirrel, or a truck or a motorcycle goes by.

She’s showing steady improvement in all other areas, but those are the two stubborn problems.

Here’s a comparison: Torvi at seven weeks and Torvi at seven months 🙂

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As for the orchids, it’s all the fuchsia phalaenopsis. The pink has dropped all its blooms now.

And that’s all I have to report for this month. It’s been mostly good and I’m looking forward to better yet to come.

Until Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Muse-inks: A decision and why I’m making it

I hinted on Thursday that I’ve made a decision about the blog, and if you’ve been reading, you might be able to predict what that decision is going to be.

*pauses for dramatic effect*

This will be my last Muse-inks/This writer’s life post for the foreseeable. I’m going to continue with my weekly curation posts and my monthly Next chapter updates, but otherwise, I’m only going to post if something of note is happening, like a DIY MFA column, reading, workshop, or other writerly event.

I’ll roll up the information I’ve been sharing on a weekly basis into my monthly updates.

I’m streamlining. I’m only going to post when I have something to say.

It’ll free up a little more time on the weekends and a few more words for my work-in-progress. It’s a first step in reclaiming my creative life.

Here’s the latest news in this writer’s life until my next monthly update.

In the last week, I’ve been able to write between 300 and 470 words a day. It feels good. I’m almost back to my 500-word-a-day goal.

Unfortunately, the weather up here in northeastern Ontario hasn’t been quite as cooperative. I’d mentioned, in posting a memory on Facebook, that the snow had almost melted. We could see grass! But, last Sunday afternoon, the latest storm blew through and we ended up with this:

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It basically looked like the memory, from four years ago, of a very snowy April day. This week, the grass is exposed in spots again, but, you guessed it, another storm is blowing up. We’re supposed to get between 30 and 50 cm of snow/ice over the next 48 hours. It’s sunny, at the moment, but the precipitation is supposed to start tonight.

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My other orchid has officially joined the bloom party 🙂

A Torvi tale: last week, I told you about the butt hackles 🙂 It turns out that laundry hanging on a line freaks Torvi out. Yes, the butt hackles rise, and she barks. Torvi, like her predecessor, Nuala, is not a barker. It’s so funny to see her out there, barking at the neighbour’s laundry, like, “That’s not supposed to be there! Hey! It’s moving! Did you see that? Look! Look!

We’ve reached the half-way point in our obedience class and, in the last couple of weeks, Torvi has been a star. In class. At home, things have improved, but she’s still having her hell-dog moments. Our house is a more pleasant place, these days.

We’ve been introduced to heeling with the meaty Rollover treat. I pinch a chunk between my left thumb and forefinger, keep my hand open, but slightly curved, and lead Torvi around, allowing her to nip at the treat. When we stop, the hand and treat are raised, and Torvi sits. She’s supposed to follow my pace and direction. We’re working on it.

We’re to practice off-leash in the house and switch to kibbles rather than treats for the basics (sit, down, sit up, stand, sit/stay, down/stay, stand/stay).

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Here’s Torvi in her Halti. She’s still getting used to it and tries to get out of it at every opportunity, but I will say again, the Halti transforms the walking experience. She doesn’t pull. She doesn’t lunge for people or dogs. I’d recommend it, or a Gentle Leader (a similar head collar) for everyone.

Between the Thunder Shirt and the anti-emetic, Torvi hasn’t vomited once. This past week, she basically laid down in the back seat and was quiet the whole way.

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Crash puppy dog on the yoga mat 🙂

Fare thee well! Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Improvements all around

Reader, I bought Torvi a Thunder Shirt. All I have to say is a-MA-zing! I put it on her the day Phil brought it home (last Sunday) and the beast just went into the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and curled up.

I thought, perhaps, it was an anomaly, but I started putting it on her every afternoon when we got home from work. And she was noticeably calmer.

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Here she is modelling the TS.

Then, on Tuesday, I went to my vet for Torvi’s flea and tic medication and asked about motion sickness meds. I went home with some to try.

On Thursday, Mom also came with me to obedience. Between the TS, the meds, and Mom, Torvi survived class number two without vomiting, or behaving like a twit.

Mellie haz a happy.

I’ve slowly been increasing my writing production, and I revised my goals (again). I’m pleased with my progress. I’m writing most days. Thursdays, of course, are still a write off.

Things have improved for Phil at work. The promised assistance is slow in coming, but the powers that be have eased up on his deadlines and the other demands on his time and expertise. Though not perfect, the situation should return to pre-crisis levels of stress soonish.

There’s a bit of a shake up coming at my employer, though. My manager is moving on to another assignment and my team will once again be headed by actors. We have about 35 people on the team, so we have two managers. The other permanent manager has been off on maternity leave since last fall.

I know my new manager. We’ve actually been colleagues in the past. It should be a good thing. As ever, we’ll have to wait and see.

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One bloom … two blooms … three blooms … four! Four blooms! Ahahahahaha! (My imitation of The Count from Sesame Street.)

The only negative is that, after weeks of melting, we’re getting a dumping of ten centimetres of snow today. I’ll take it. March did come in rather lamb-like. It’s going out lionish. It’s to be expected in northeastern Ontario.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Obedience begins (disastrously) and baby steps

The news of the week is that Torvi and I started beginner obedience classes with Tammy St. Louis of Skiplyn Kennels.

The church where the classes take place is a 30-minute drive away. Of course, despite Mom taking up her food earlier in the day, Torvi vomited on the way there. She didn’t on the return journey, but the entire back seat was wet with drool. And she howls, she’s so miserable in the car. I felt horrible for her.

So, I’m going to see if I can find her a Thunder Shirt. If that doesn’t work, I’ll move on to the meds our vet said they could dispense.

Once at the class, I remembered that I’d forgotten to buy a 6-foot leash, her collar was too loose, her Halti was too big, and she was declared “chubby.”

We managed to get through the class without a major incident, though. Torvi was absolutely exhausted. She just perked up today.

I’ve showed Mom and Phil the exercises I learned, and we are all working diligently with Torvi. She’s already showing some signs of improvement, though we’re not sure how much of that is from the stress and exhaustion and how much is from the practice. Shrug.

All of the pets we’ve raised have been neurotic, one way or another. I don’t think Torvi will be any different.

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Here she is. That’s actually the beginning of a yawn 🙂

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And here’s a pic of the orchids’ progress. It’s kind of like Pilgrim’s Progress, but with flowers 😀

I didn’t write or work on my curation Thursday night and caught up on my curation on Friday.

Tonight, I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party, stayed for the opening of the gifts and cake, and then came home to finish this post.

I’m also working on my first critique for my group.

I’ll head out on the writing trail again tomorrow. And I’m good with that.

Progress is being made, but in baby steps. Baby steps are still steps. It’s all good.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Gittin’ ‘er done

I’m writing again, slowly building back up. I probably won’t write today because the weekend has gotten away from me and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Newsletter is due. But it feels good to be getting words on the page.

At work, we’re almost at the end of the fiscal year and so somethings have settled down. Our problematic pay system is still problematic, but our employer has agreed to hold off on the collection of overpayments until all underpayments have first been issued. The union fought hard for the concession and I’m grateful, not so much for myself, though I have been affected, but for all the employees less fortunate than me facing huge overpayments or underpayments.

It’s a serious situation. On one hand, some employees haven’t been able to pay their mortgages and loans. Some haven’t been able to pay rent or for day care. On the other hand, employees are delaying retirement, or turning down promotions because they fear that their pay will be stopped, as has happened to other employees.

Progress is being made, but it’s slow, and for some, it’s already too late.

Phil’s work situation hasn’t improved. The promise of help isn’t materializing and he’s still facing a number of deadlines that he can’t meet on his own. It’s just not possible, and though consequences are continually threatened, no one is willing to explain exactly what those consequences are.

We aren’t really in the financial situation to allow Phil to retire, and he’s not willing to take a stress leave, though things are bad enough that he has considered it.

It’s incredibly frustrating and Phil can’t help but bring it all home. Our crazy bout of cold/flu (we’re heading into week three and it’s not just cough and congestion—aches, weakness, and nausea have joined the party) hasn’t helped.

Several my colleagues at work have been stricken. It’s not fun.

Torvi was spayed, chipped, and got her final vaccines this past week. With those procedures done, she’s officially transferred from the rescue’s ownership to ours. She was sent home with three days of Metacam and Trazodone (that’s an anti-anxiety med) to keep her calm. That course of treatment is now complete, and the Torvi-beast is back to her old, pugilistic self.

Dr. Andrews did a fabulous job. The stitches are internal and dissolving. I wasn’t able to get a decent picture of that, but here’s her intravenous site, fully healed. Trust me, her incision looks just as good. And, I took another picture of her in a rare, calm moment.

I’ve signed us up for beginner obedience starting this coming Thursday for ten weeks.

I hope that our Torvi stresses (relatively minor as they are) will soon be at an end.

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The orchids continue to cheer me with their bloomage.

And that’s been a week in this writer’s life.

I hope y’all had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and that the spring equinox brings some light back into your lives.

And now, it’s on to the newsletter!

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-inks: Sick away and figuring out where the stirrup is

This past week, I spent most of it out of town at a learning event for work. I carpooled with three of my colleagues, none of whom drive. The rental agency gave me a Ford Expedition, which I appreciated on the winter highways, but not so much in the parking garages of North York and Richmond Hill.

The hotel we stayed at was driving distance and we had to find parking at the office every morning. The mornings weren’t so bad. It was travelling down Tuesday and trying to find parking around noon that was the challenge. I levelled up my large vehicle driving skills, though.

And, as I mentioned last week, I had a cold the whole time. Being sick away is exhausting. I still have the dregs, but I’m in recovery.

Phil was not so lucky. I shared my illen with him prior to my departure and, as he texted me on Tuesday, “the man cold dialled up to eleven.” He’s still quite sick, but he’s determined to go back to work tomorrow because of the difficulties I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Torvi was quite good for him through the week but, because he was sick, Phil shipped her over to my mom’s most days, so he could stay in bed. Torvi destroyed Mom’s welcome mat, two hats, and she’s had to move the hall tree (an antique) into the basement and close the door. Torvi was jumping on it and threatened to tip it over.

Once Torvi is spayed and has her final vaccines, I’m definitely investing in obedience training.

While I was down south, because I was sick and on call for driving duties, I didn’t really have a lot of time to devote to creativity. I generally tackled essential duties, like curation, and went to bed early.

I let things slide Friday night after my return and caught up yesterday, though I was obliged to have not one, but two, naps yesterday. I should be fit to return to work tomorrow as well, though.

I did write a little bit in the last week, however. Sunday and Monday nights, I was able to commit a few words to Playing with Fire, and on Thursday night, I wrote a few more. Yay me 🙂

This is where “figuring out where the stirrup is” comes in. I’m ready to get back on the writing horse again, but the first step is to figure out where the stirrup is. One can’t get back in the saddle until one finds the stirrup. Not everyone has the ability to vault onto the horse and ride bareback 😉

I suppose I could have extended the metaphor to saddling the horse and tightening the girth, but the horse has been saddled and waiting for me since I started to think about PwF again. I think I’ll leave the equine metaphor there for now.

This morning we lost an hour. Daylight savings time is another challenging time of year for me. It usually takes me a week to properly adjust my sleeping and waking habits. I’m hoping my naps yesterday helped. We are creeping closer to the vernal equinox, though, and spring. It’s lighter in the mornings and the quality of the light is changing as the earth shifts on its seasonal axis. My mood is improving.

I also have my follow up appointment with my gynecologist for the ablation this week. So far, I have experienced two very light periods and I have stopped discharging in between. I’m seeing it as a good sign and have stopped taking my iron supplements. I’m going to let my body adjust to its new normal and hope that I don’t get anemic again. The blood tests will tell the tale, though.

I’ve also lost about twenty pounds since last fall. It’s mostly been due to Torvi and my increased level of activity from walking, caring, and playing with her. I weighed the Torvi-beast this morning, BTW … She’s 48 pounds (!)

I have hope that this cold was just a stress thing and that my recovery heralds an overall improvement in my health. There’s still Phil’s uncertain work situation and my ongoing pay difficulties that have to be overcome. Those were the stressors that helped to make both of us vulnerable and until we both have solutions in place, I anticipate that we will continue to face a few challenges.

My critique group has, after a delay due to various members moving and adjusting to life in new time zones, started up. This is another good thing.

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And … my orchids are in flowering mode again!

I’m going to be taking some time in the next week to try to refocus and organize my life again. I have been in denial that I could take on pup parenthood and that I could still devote the same kind of time to everything else in my life.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, something’s gotta give. I don’t want that something to be my writing anymore and it can’t be Phil, Torvi, or the rest of my family. Fiscal necessity means it can’t be the day job, at least not in the short term.

What does that leave? That’s where things get interesting and that’s where my efforts will focus for the foreseeable.

All these things are first world problems, though. That is to say, they’re not really weighty problems in the bigger scheme of things. I have to keep things in perspective and hope I’m not whinging too much.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

The next chapter: February 2018 update

February was a short month. Even so, it seemed to fly by.

As I’ve mentioned in my weekly posts, I’m continuing to struggle. Rather, after February 10th, I stopped struggling and recognized the critical fact that I can’t do it all. I can’t work full time, come home and take care of the dog full time, and fit in blogging, newslettering, column writing and still have room left for my WIP (not to mention the rest of my life).

It sucks that, for now, I’ve decided that it’s the WIP that has to go. But, honestly, when I stopped writing, I was just too exhausted to even think about it. A couple of weeks in, my thoughts started to gravitate toward Playing with Fire again, and I see that as a good sign. I’m still going to let it sit for a while longer, to see if the other, more chaotic aspects of my life sort themselves out.

I think I have to simplify my life rather than complicating it.

FebruaryProgress

Not unsurprisingly, I only hit 24% of my 15,000-word writing goal on PwF.

I met my 5,600-word goal for the blog, came in at 72% of my goal for my DIY MFA column, and 140% of my 4,000-word goal for the SWG newsletter.

Overall, that works out to 60% of my writing goal for the month.

I realized, belatedly, that I’d put in short fiction goals for January and February that I didn’t even look at. Again, I didn’t have the energy or attention.

I’m going to wait until the end of March to see how I’ll be moving the goal posts.

In other news

It hasn’t rained/melted significantly since Phil made his initial repairs in the basement, so he hasn’t been able to test them. The spring forecast predicts a warmer than normal March with more rain and snow. Until we can be sure the problem is fixed, the basement is verboten to Torvi, which is sad.

Phil continues to struggle at work. More problems crop up. He deals with them to the best of his ability, but his employer’s solution will still be some time in the implementation. In the meantime, Phil returns home utterly spent and frustrated, and largely unable to deal with anything else.

My training duties at work are done for the time being, but I still have next week’s learning event to travel to and ongoing coaching and mentoring responsibilities. And there are still problems with our pay system which will mean at least one, and likely several, small to negligible pay periods in my future. I’m waiting for that shoe to drop, too.

Post-ablation life is kind of weird, but I’ve been told that ye olde pipes can sputter for three to six months, off and on, before my body finally settles into its new normal. Metaphorical fingers still crossed.

And now, I’m catching a cold 😦

Torvi will be spayed this month, as well as get chipped, and receive her final vaccination (rabies). After that, Phil and I are formally Torvi’s humans and I can feel more confident about taking her on longer walks, to places where she’ll meet other dogs, and to obedience training.

We really need the obedience training.

Honestly, Torvi’s not any more of a devil than any of our other dogs. She’s just so big, she’s super-strong, she doesn’t know her own strength, and her puppy enthusiasm can result in injury.

Here she is, napping with Phil. It’s a good thing we have a king-sized bed. She likes to streeeeetch out 🙂

We’ll see what the next month brings.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Muse-inks: Hanging in there

Another week has passed without a single word being written on my WIP. There. I wrote it down. It must be true.

Things at work continue to be stressful. The latest, poor feedback on the training I did a couple of weeks ago has resulted in an additional workshop, hastily pulled together, which only five of the eleven participants are taking part in. If it was that much of an issue, I’m sure all of them would have signed on.

Admittedly, two of them did withdraw from the mentoring phase of training and returned to their normal duties and one returned to his specialized unit where he had already been doing most of what we were delivering the training on, but still. Eight people should have signed on.

It’s the reactionary nature of my employer, though. So, I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do.

And then, I’m heading out of town for most of a week for an in-person team meeting, leaving Phil and my mom to deal with what I expect to be a very upset Torvi. This will be the first time I’ve been away overnight, or for more than a day.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to get much writing done over the next couple of weeks, either.

Things should ease off after that, though.

I signed up for Jennifer Louden’s Get back to Creating workshop, though, and while I didn’t participate, I did watch the videos and garnered some tips for when I’ll be ready to use them.

And I have been thinking about Playing with Fire in the last week. That’s something.

Phil’s work troubles aren’t quite at an end yet, either. Again, progress is being made, enough for Phil to feel comfortable taking a few days off, but it’s a slow process and new crises seem to pop up on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Phil took Friday off to deal with a leak in the basement. It’s been warm (above zero degrees Celsius) and rainy in the last week or so. A fair amount of freezing rain as well. He’s waiting for the next deluge to see if his repairs will address the problem. If not, he may be obliged to rent a jackhammer and install some weeping tile inside the basement (below the concrete) to divert the water to the sump pump, which has, interestingly enough, remained dry the whole time.

This has, of course, meant, that while the basement is once more in disarray, it is forbidden to Torvi. Just a week after having opened it up to her, we’ve had to deny her access. It’s been a challenge. She doesn’t understand 😦

Torvi Tales (Tails?)

A couple of things have happened in the last week that have been amusing.

One night, after she’d settled down, Torvi was sleeping on her back, which she still often does, propped against my legs as I worked at my standing desk. Without warning, or my human ears detecting any noise, Torvi flips over with a thump and charges for the front of the house, barking like mad.

It was enough to get Phil up from downstairs.

I think she was dreaming.

With all the freezing rain, just getting Torvi out to do her business is a challenge. The first day, she was sliding down the driveway (her favourite place to do number one) while she peed. The look on her face was priceless.

She hasn’t attempted to pee in the driveway since, though. It’s meant an increase in accidents indoors. With a week of above-zero daytime temperatures and freezing overnight, I don’t anticipate remediation in the short term.

But, she’s our sweetie.

And here she is, challenging Mommy to play.

The current list of Torvi’s nicknames: Torv, the Torvster, Torvina, Torvi-adore (like toreador, and yes, I sometimes hum Tosca to her), turkey-Torvi (cause she can be), sweetie, sweet pea, love/my love/little love, lovey-bum, fuzzy butt, puppy love, wee one (we call all of our dogs that), and Phil has come up with an elaborate one … Torvi Consuela Josephine. Don’t ask me why. He can’t even explain where the impulse came from.

So that is the weekly update.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks

Muse-Inks: Honouring my reality

So … this past week was a week of delivering training at work.

Day one, I felt obliged to nap after supper. And I don’t nap. Generally, I might lay down, but I don’t sleep. As a result, I don’t even bother getting prone most of the time. But I was bushed. I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up just after 10 pm.

During the day, the participants, all of whom work earlier shifts, asked for the training to shift to an earlier time, as well. Remember that meme? I’m not an night owl. I’m not an early bird. I’m some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon? Yeah.

For the rest of the week, I decided to nap when I got home so Phil could wake me up for supper. Well, Torvi had something to say about that and I didn’t end up getting any quality rest.

Needless to say, I went into maintenance mode. I dealt with my daily curation tasks for my weekly curation posts as quickly as possible, and then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

That’s right. I didn’t write a word on my novel all week.

And I probably won’t write a word this weekend, either. I have a friend coming in from out of town that I’d much rather visit with. I have a deadline for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter I have to meet. Priorities.

I’ve had to fight a certain amount of guilt over not writing. But I haven’t felt the burning desire to get back to the page, either. The last time I took a purposeful break, I was immediately thinking about what I would be writing. Even though I’d stopped writing, my creative brain was still immersed in the project and when I returned to the project, I was working at full steam.

That hasn’t happened this time.

What this means is that I’ll probably be drafting Playing with Fire into April. So be it.

This is my reality at the moment. I have to honour what’s happening in my life, make choices, and live with the results. I will be adjusting my goals accordingly.

In other news …

Things continue to improve, in small increments, for Phil at work. He’s felt motivated enough to clean up the basement so Torvi can go down there and spend time with him if she wants.

Today was the first time we coaxed Torvi down into the basement. I have a couple of old pillows I took down there for a dog bed (until Phil buys another one) and a few toys. It’s been a bit of a stressful afternoon. Torvi doesn’t like change. She’s been constantly running the stairs and whining. It was to the point that we couldn’t tell when she was asking to go out. But there were no accidents. I’m counting it a win.

She’s also making progress with controlling her excitement when meeting people. She still jumps and freaks out, but if we get visitors to ignore her, she settles quickly. We’ll see how it works with our guests tonight.

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I weighed her last week. She’s 42 pounds. Woof! Here she is, waiting for Phil to come home, and NOT destroying footwear (!) Another win.

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And she’s starting to lose her puppy teeth. I know, it’s kind of gross, but if I find them, I save them. I still have some of Nuala’s teeth.

And that’s all the news for the week.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kinds, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Muse-inks