Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I have been having a whole lot of problems with the book now due at my publisher December 1. I have fought and struggled with it, and grumbled and complained about it (sometimes on this blog) to no avail. Every sentence seemed to have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. It was almost as if I’d forgotten how to write creative fiction. Then, all of a sudden, as I neared what I hope will be the next to last chapter, it suddenly unfolded. I can see the story now as coherent and workable. It needs polishing, it needs those final two chapters, but I’m going to send a viable version of it to Berkley by the end of this month. Whew!

Unless you caught me right as I was posting this, then while you read it I am serving as an Election Judge in Minneapolis. This year I am anticipating a turnout probably close to the turnout we get in a year we elect a President. This has been an important campaign, possibly one that will mark a turning point in the whole history of our nation. Since I am working as a judge in a precinct not my own, I voted by absentee ballot several weeks ago. It sure made all the campaign commercials tedious since then. Not that they weren’t getting tedious in any case. I will be interested in seeing the results Wednesday morning.

I once owned a Scottish terrier named Piper. He was a bold and adventurous dog, playful and endearing. But not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every morning I’d take him for a walk, during which he kept a sharp eye out for squirrels. His one big goal in life was to catch a squirrel. Now there was a squirrel that lived in a big tree in our back yard. It was to one side of the lot, facing a narrow walkway to the sidewalk in front of our house. The walkway ran between the house and a tall plank wall that bordered the parking lot of the apartment building next door. One morning Piper saw the squirrel about halfway up that walk and went after it, yanking the leash out of my hand. The squirrel dashed madly for the tree, barely scooting up it in time to escape Piper’s snapping jaws. Piper came trotting back to me, very pleased with himself – he’d shown that squirrel! Oddly enough, the next morning, there was that squirrel on the walkway again. This time I dropped the leash and Piper went racing after the squirrel, who again swept up the tree just ahead of Piper’s shiny white teeth. It became a routine, the squirrel waiting for Piper, Piper charging madly, the squirrel going up the tree. After a week or so, I realized the squirrel was edging closer to our end of the walkway, and barely escaping up its tree. Piper, now anticipating the squirrel’s presence, would bounce out our front door ready to show that squirrel he was not to be trifled with. I stopped being afraid the stupid squirrel was going to be torn to pieces as I realized that squirrel was playing a game with Piper. He cut his retreat so increasingly fine that I was amazed he never lost the end of his tail. Piper would not slow down as he reached the tree, but actually ran up the trunk a yard or so before falling back to the ground. His proud prance as he came trotting back to continue our walk seemed to indicate he never caught on that he was in fact being trifled with. Poor old fellow, being gamed by a squirrel!


Linda O. Johnston said...

What a cute story about Piper and the squirrel, Monica! I've had Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for many years, and none ever recognized that they were spaniels until our younger one now, Mystie. Along with being a lap dog, she's a bird dog, chasing birds through our backyard every time she sees any. Every once in a while, I think one purposely teases her before flying off.

Congrats on figuring out how to finish your book. Aren't our subconscious minds fun?

Betty Hechtman said...

It must be a good feeling to have worked out the ending for your book.

Persoanlly, I'm a terrier person. I like all the breeds and mixed up ones like my Goldy. Piper sounds like a character.