Walking our vicious pit bull/terrier mix down the road recently and came upon a lady checking her mail.
We have a wonderful dog.
Our rescue dog, nearly three years old now and weighing sixty pounds, is mostly pit bull with some terrier thrown in. She is sweet-natured, intelligent, playful. She is also willful, having learned all basic commands that she follows. When it suits her.
Sometime people acquire pit bulls for the wrong reasons. You know what they are. We acquired Lily to give her a good home and to provide us with company. Every day, she makes us laugh at least once. Yet, despite the fact that is the most passive dog who has ever owned us, her breed carries that reputation.
Last night during a storm my long-suffering wife heard a banging just outside our bedroom window. "It's something alive," she said.
So I got dressed, picked up a flashlight, and went forth to confront the source of the banging. Since we live at the edge of the woods and at the base of a small mountain, a wide range of "alive" things could have been the source of the banging. Raccoon, fox, bear, and yeti all came to mind. So I asked Lily to join me as backup as we went out the back door and around the house in the wind and the rain and the dark.
I turned around once to see if Lily had my back in case I needed protection. She was not there. I called and she appeared, or least, her head appeared at the corner of the house, so I proceeded and found the source of the thumping. A small access door under the crawlspace was loose. I secured it and turned around. Lily was not to be seen.
But she was nearby. On the back porch, wagging her tail. Lily now has a middle name. It is "Liver."
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was going to write series of postings about my work as a writer. I have published the first two novels in the Thomas O'Shea series with #3 to published, I'm told, in December. I was working on #4 when I felt I was a bit stale, and besides, there was an idea for another novel, a different kind of novel, that my imagination thrust upon me. So I wrote it. I don't like the working title, but I must say I am pleased with the novel. It's in the genre called "upmarket fiction" which is supposed to be a combination of literary fiction and commercial fiction. It's supposed to be 35 chapters. I have written 34. But I don't know how to finish the book. So, I have gone back and revised, hoping to unlock the key to that elusive last chapter.
Nevertheless, the last three days have been very good writing days as I have struggled to make chapters better. Neil Gaiman said, "Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters."
The last three days have been good writing days. However, I must say that other things matter, so there.
After several hours writing and revising today, my brain is tired and I plan to take a nap, enjoy dinner with my bride, play with my dog, Lily, winner for the second consecutive year as "Best In The Universe" at the Intergalactic Dog Show on Pluto. Maybe watch some episodes of "Hell on Wheels" on Netflix. I recommend the gritty series about building the transcontinental railroad, a project I remember well, my 4th grade class taking a field trip to see the progress out of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Writing is hard, but I love it. More later on when and if I can write Chapter 35.
I was busy writing when my long-suffering wife, Lisa, called to me from the front porch. "Lily's found a really big snake!" Lily is our rescue dog, one year old, part terrier and part pit, and she is smart. Anyway, I had to go see, although I am strongly averse to snakes. But Lisa was not exaggerating. The snake was mostly hidden in some ivy ground cover, but Lily had sniffed it out and then barked at it, ever cautious in her approach, one foot on the brake and the other on the gear for "Reverse." The snake was mostly black with some white specks on it. Not a timber rattler. Not a copperhead. It did not move. I thought it was dead, especially since there were some flies on it, so I poked at it with a long pole with a hook on it that we use for trimming lower branches of trees. A LONG pole. It did not move. Must be dead. Just to be sure, I nudged its head a little and then I detected slight movement and the tongue flicking about. Not dead. I nudged it again and it finally started slithering up the embankment, toward a tree. It slithered and it slithered and we were gradually astonished at how big it was. It took its own sweet time, did not acknowledge us at all, but just gradually emerged. Slowly. Did I mention slithering? The long pole I had used was a foot taller than I. And I am a little over 6'. And the snake was longer than the pole was tall. Are you getting the picture?
I went inside fast and Googled "South Carolina Snakes" and there it was, a black rat snake. Non-venomous, which I could already tell by the shape of the head, and known to grow to 8' in length. Passive. Shy. Constrictor. Constrictor! I had no idea, but Google said black rat snakes can constrict and consume rodents, birds, bats, full grown squirrels, and small mail carriers. Which explained why it looked like, at first, there were two snakes. It had actually wrapped itself around some vermin and suffocated it. Explained the flies, too.
Our snake continued to unravel from the ivy ground cover until it came to the base of the tree. And then it went up the tree. Some people might question that statement, but it's true. It went up and up and up and finally stretched out on a high branch and stayed there. We went inside. After lunch, we went back out and there was no sign of our visitor. Now we're wondering where could he be now?
I am working on the final revision of Thomas O'Shea novel #3 in the series. It's called, The Face on the Other Side. I try to write mornings and attend to other things in the afternoons. Things like yard work, naps, working out, naps, and maybe walking the dog. The dog. She is one year old, her name is Lily, and she is mostly pit bull with some terrier. She weighs 54 pounds. She is sweet, likes to snuggle, and is strong. She is also the most playful dog we have ever had. She likes to play games, and one of her favorites is "Slammer." This we play when she has lots of energy. She communicates this by taking me by the throat and shaking me. I just made that up. Actually, she does communicate her desire to play "Slammer" by getting bouncy and giving me fervent eye contact. And this is how we play the game. I encourage her with cheers and she runs across two rooms and slams herself into the back of a futon couch, then rebounds off the futon and tears back to where she started and then does it all over again without stopping. Her style has been perfected through a short trial-and-error. Simply put, she goes airborne as she reaches the futon, turns her body so her feet are planted against the back of the futon, then springs without stopping into her tearing back where she started, pivots, and does it again. It is hilarious. Her record is 14 slammers before she stopped, finally tired. Eight is fairly common. We cheer her on and she purely enjoys it. Come see. Call first.
We have a Fifty Shades of Yellow Tabby in our cottage. The Yellow Tabby is beaker, our male cat, who seems to have a few loose wires. His girlfriend is Lily, our pit bull/terrior mix puppy who is almost a year old. Fine so far? Just wait. When these two play, Lily grabs Beaker by the loose skin on the top of his head, or one of his ears, and drags him around. The first time this happened, I intervened only to find, to my amazement, that Beaker was purring. When I broke them up and held Lily by the collar, Beaker looked at me with a puzzled look on his face, as if to say, "Buzz off, we're playing." And made no attempt to escape.
So I released Lily and the whole bondage scenario played out again, with Lily the dominatrix and Beaker the client.
I am troubled about Beaker, who thoroughly enjoys this strange version of "play." I think he's nuts.
Currently, I am looking for a cat psychiatrist to delve into Beaker's psyche to see why he purrs when he's being dragged around by his ear, and why he makes no attempt to get away when I restrain Lily. Fifty Shades of Yellow Tabby, indeed.