The Way Things Are Right Now

With people around the country dealing with catastrophic fires and flooding, it doesn’t seem right for me to be writing this woe-is-me blog. Compared to what’s going on elsewhere, what we’re facing at home right now is little more than unhealthy levels of smoke. Since we’re already living in lockdown mode, that doesn’t impact us all that much. I’m a bit cranky about it, however. I was well on my way to a 100-day streak of getting my 10,000 steps when my stepping came to a screeching halt on day 98. There’s smoke outside, yes, but also inside, so I’m taking a step break at the moment.

We had a pet emergency last week in that our miniature long haired dachshund, JoJo, woke up one morning and didn’t want to get down from the bed. She’s the dog who underwent emergency back surgery and spent the better part of a month as a paraplegic last winter. Needless to say, I freaked. We ended up taking her to an emergency pet hospital where we waited in the car in a parking lot for an hour before someone came to take her inside. Then we spent another two hours waiting in the car outside before they decided to keep her overnight. She’s home now and recovering well. What she did this time was a minor sprain as opposed to the serious injury from last winter.

A week ago we had our one and only socially distanced kids/grandkids swimming party in our back yard. When the visitors departed, they left behind the remains of a half gallon of chocolate milk. Chocolate milk? Holy cow! It had been years since I’d had a glass of that, so I served up two glasses of that at dinnertime. But then, when I took a big swig, whammo! A tooth in the lower right hand quadrant of my mouth pitched a hissy fit. My first thought was, “Great. Just what I need right now. A root canal!”

But as I said earlier, JoJo was the focus of last week’s medical emergency. So this week, I screwed my white-knuckled dental patient courage to the sticking point and made an appointment. Yesterday’s initial exam revealed what seemed like good news. I had chipped a corner off a porcelain crown with no root canal required. They already had my temporary crown from that initial procedure, so all they needed to do was take one off and put the other one on. Except …. Six Novocain injections later, I could still feel everything! So they filled the broken place in the crown like you would fill a cavity. It’s a temporary fix and will need to be replaced in a month or so after, as my dentist told me, “Things have a chance to settle down.”

And speaking of settling down, the dentist herself was very disturbed by what happened. She said it had been years since she’d been unable to numb a patient successfully. After I left, she called a fellow dentist—a periodontist—who’s her go-to guy over numbing issues. It turns out that he had a problem with one of his patients yesterday and couldn’t numb him, either. So maybe, mixed in with all the smoke in the air, there’s some kind of element that interacts with Novocain and disables it.

So that was yesterday. As of September 1, our long time physician retired. Last week we had a two hour video chat with our new doctor. This morning we had our first in-person appointment. We’re old. He’s a geriatric physician, and yes we both passed the standard cognitive test with flying colors. And then we came home and had vanilla ice cream and peaches for breakfast. Hell, life is uncertain. Eat dessert first, right?

Now I need to get back to writing. For weeks I’ve been inching my way along in Unfinished Business, the next Ali book. In case you’re interested, being locked up in a pandemic is not necessarily good for the creative process.

I’m currently at 55.6% done, but who’s counting? (I am! Counting, that is. I count the words every day). Why is 55.6 % important? Because it’s almost at 60%. And right around 60% I find that the rest of any given book is suddenly far easier to write. The reason for that is simple: By 60% I usually know where the story is going.

Something important in the story happened in last chapter I wrote yesterday and I believe I’m about to step on the banana peel. While waiting in the doctor’s office this morning, I realized that the bad guy just did something really stupid! (Don’t they always?) He got carried away with himself and took action without doing something as basic as checking his gas tank.

So now that this week’s blog is written I’m going back to my real writing. Writing the blog is fun. Writing books is work.

Fortunately for me, I’m happy to do both.

PS. If you happen to be one of my readers and are in the path of fire, flood, or the occasional locust right now, please drop me a line at and let me know how you’re faring. I’m currently wearing my RLM button because Readers’ Lives Matter!