The title of this post pretty much sums up my current mental state. Where have I been, you ask? Under a rock?
If "rock" means "finish-novel-celebrate-holidays-get-a-new-puppy," then yes. That's exactly where I've been.
I'll tell you about the novel later. For now, let's talk about the puppy. I mean, a brand-new finished novel is pretty damn exciting. But let's face it: cute as a manuscript might be, you can't teach it to sit. Or kiss its warm fuzzy head. (Then again, a novel doesn't keep you up all night barking, either. Hmm.)
As you may remember, our sweet Ginny dog passed away last year. For the first time in our almost-22 years together, my sweetie and I decided to try being a one-dog family. The house became quiet. Sedate, even. Ginny was always the flamboyant one; Inja, in contrast, is low-key. Very low-key. As in, this was her daily routine from 8 AM (just after breakfast) to 6 PM (just before dinner):
Highlights of her days included lying in front of the heater vent in the kitchen when the heater kicked on, and getting her head washed by the cat. Oh, and walks. After all, a nice long walk is the perfect excuse to jump back on the chair for a little rest and recovery.
Enter Roxie. Roxie is a 9-month-old German Shepherd. Now, I realize she seems pretty calm in this photo. That's because this is her second day in our house, and we discovered that she had never in her short life seen 1) stairs, 2) cats, or 3) bare floors. She kept staring at us as if to ask, "WHY? WHY DO YOU PEOPLE LIVE ON ICE? DON'T YOU REALIZE THERE'S A BETTER WAY AND IT IS CALLED CARPET?!"
Just look at the worry on her poor face. "I HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED BY THE ICE PEOPLE," that look says. "NEXT I SHALL CERTAINLY BE EATEN BY ICE TROLLS."
The day after this, though, she decided that the floors maybe were not actually entirely lethal, and she began gingerly walking on them. Stairs were a different story. She clearly regarded stairs as devices of Satan. We live in an old Portland house, which means: Stairs in. Stairs out. Stairs everywhere. For the first two weeks, letting Roxie out meant leashing her up and walking her out the front and around the side yard to the back gate. In thirty-five degree rain.
The stair boycott also meant Roxie had to sleep alone downstairs. Once she decided we were not in fact dog-eating ice trolls, but actually sort of fun to be around, this became unacceptable to her. Unfortunately, it wasn't unacceptable enough to give stair-climbing a whirl. No, her solution was to bark. All. Night. Long. In case you didn't know, German Shepherds can bark really, really LOUDLY. At one point, a dog-eating ice troll started to sound like a pretty good idea.
Fortunately for all of us, she had a sudden stair breakthrough. Maybe she realized that if she climbed the stairs, she could go in search of the cats. Whatever the reason, now stairs are her friends.
And so is Inja.
Yep--Inja's up out of the chair, for a few hours of the day, at least. The house isn't quiet anymore, or sedate. But now that Roxie has decided that stairs are not Treacheries of Doom, at least we're all getting a full night's sleep again.
And the novel? It winged its way to my agent a couple of days ago. More on that later. Now it's time to go play with the dogs.
New novel, new puppy. And a very Happy New Year to you all!