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!

19 thoughts on “The Way Things Are Right Now

  1. My first thought when I read this was, when it rains it pours. Then I thought, not on the west coast right now. I hope that you and Jojo are more comfortable today. Dental work when Novocaine doesn’t work sucks. It will be interesting to know if the smoke was the reason for the failure of the medication to work. 2020 has certainly been a year that forces us to live outside our normal patterns. Here on Florida’s Gulf coast we are dealing with rain, humidity and tropical weather patterns. Could be worse and for those on the northern edge of the Gulf it has been much worse. Good luck getting through your magical 60% line and on to the rest of the new book. Thanks for brightening my Friday morning.

  2. And WLM (writers lives matter) too! Thank you for the weekly blog. I look forward to my in box each Friday. Stay safe and healthy.

  3. It’s always something, but 2020 it seems like it’s had more than its fair share of somethings! I’m glad you enjoy writing your blogs (and books) because I enjoy reading them! By the way, we’re getting your smoke now, blowing in all the way to Colorado. Praying for rain for the PNW. Also, I agree: Reader’s Lives Matter! 🙂
    Westminster, CO

    • I live in Portland, Oregon. Today I am told, we had some torrential rain around 4:00 A.M. . We also had rain off and on throughout the day. I am 67 tears old and have sinus issues. When the smoke started I also had breathing issues. In the past 30 years I have lived in Portland we have had smoky days but none like this and I never had breathing issues. Fortunately, I didn’t require assistance and didn’t miss work.

      The smoke was so bad that if you looked 500 feet ahead of you, it would look like there was a grass fire.

      Today, hallelujah!!! Fresh air!!! The type only a rain storm can give you.

      I had someone at work ask me if I knew what BLM meant and told them it was part an equation.

      Blue Lives Matter + Brown Lives Matter + Brown Lives Matter = ALL LIVES MATTER!!!

      Everyone have a great day. Be safe.

  4. So far the smoke doesn’t seem to have drifted up to northern Alberta, but my concern is for a close friend, who loves to hike and go bird-watching, and just moved to Victoria, B.C., where the smoke IS keeping people indoors.
    And yes, along with Deborah, I look forward to the blogs. I’ve been receiving them for only a few weeks, but they are a bright spot in my day.

  5. I am glad that JoJo is doing better and her injury was not too serious. I had my own experience with a crown earlier in the year as it actually fell out. The dentist found that there was a cavity underneath so it required more drilling. Luckily it did not require a root canal but of course I had to get the crown replaced. Also luckily it occurred before the whole Covid thing as my dentist was actually shut down for a while. Well enjoy your writing. You may consider it work but I consider reading it to be great fun. Pray you stay safe from the fires.

  6. Greetings from North Scottsdale. I can see the Boulders from my patio. Our first year in the desert has been great albeit a record heat (it’s 2020 after all). New to your blog. Signed up after attending the Sno-Isle event last night. Loved your honesty and stories.

    Sadly I’ll admit I’ve never read any of your books! Since I lived in Mill Creek and other parts of Seattle for over 25 years, you’ve always been on my “to read” list but with work and all, never got to them. Retired now and reading lots. Love that your series will take me back to Seattle and to AZ, my new home.

  7. Love reading your blog. Live in suburbs of Pittsburgh but spend winter in Fla. Cannot handle Pgh winters any more. At age 78 I am grateful for good friends & good health, spending time walking in park & of course reading J. A. Jance books- some of them for the second time.
    As you said when this pandemic started “this too shall pass”.
    Thank you for your wonderful books.

  8. We really enjoyed your talk last night through Sno-Isle Library zoom. While at times emotional and intense, you let us into your world of inspiration. By the way your jacket was lovely! I come from a family of readers and we share many books in different genres. I believe my sister has all of your books that we have shared through the years. Our children are avid readers and our little Grandson is loving his books. We will keep reading alive through your diligent efforts. Thank you!

  9. I’m a long time reader and lover of your books. I like to read your blogs because it is truly nice to see that the genius minds who put together (write) such terrific books are actually Real people with Real issues living in the real world (can’t get any more “real” than it has in 2020; that’s for sure)!

    Thank you for keeping us entertained through all the years, through rain and fire, smoke and pandemic!

    And yes, getting to read MORE during these turbulent times. Take care and stay safe!

  10. Fires, tropical storms flooding, drought, mud slides, record heat AZ, bad air..COVID, politics…the noise is deafening.
    Turning off everything, curling up with a good book at home is never (and has never been) a bad idea.
    Only wish my Chihuahua hadn’t died. Need cuddling.
    Thankful for what we have but sad, too.
    I’m allergic to Novocain but that’s another story.

  11. I have read all your books and do look forward to another one. There isn’t much to do except read since we are still semi confined at home. We did venture out to get some shopping done at our Pennys before they close next month. This Covid virus has really taken a toll on our town, lots of stores and restaurants can’t make it.
    But we do try to look on the bright side and that is when I read your blog and see what other people are going through. And these fires in California are the worst ever and its so sad the beauty and wildlife that are being destroyed and people’s homes and lives changed forever.
    Happy your pup was able to come back home without too much stress.
    Take care!

  12. So happy to hear that your fur baby is going to be okay, and that you are both in good health.

    I told Steve that I thought September would be locusts. He thought it was zombies. Fires, flooding and toxic smoke for the win! It will be refreshing when we are able to open a window and leave the house once more. I need another haircut. (First world problems)

  13. We finally have a break from the smoke down here in Medford. Last week was horrible and heartbreaking down this way. The speed of the Almeda fire was terrifying. So many people lost their homes and unfortunately some lost their lives. For me, it was a flash back to 2 years ago when we were evacuated during the Taylor Creek Fire. Thankfully, we are fine and I’m slowly unpacking our vehicles. I have been heartened by the way our community has responded to the fires, and the needs of the displaced families. It shows me that under all of the division in our country, good people still step up to help. Stay safe everyone.

  14. Always great to read your blog. Enjoyed seeing you on the computer a day or so ago… I was ready to go at 6:30 without realizing it was West Coast time! And I’m on the coast of GA. Not the same as in person but still very enjoyable.
    Anxiously awaiting the new Brady book.

  15. I hope the smoke is abating. I love the RLM idea. Thanks for “worrying” about us. I anxiously await the new book.

  16. Judy, I always enjoy your blogs. Frank was just asking me if you were terribly effected by all the smoke out there. I know it’s very serious when you give up on getting your daily 10,000 steps. I love that you had chocolate milk, ice cream, & peaches! Now I don’t feel so guilty about all the snacks I’ve had lately. That’s why everyone loves you….you are just like the rest of us regular people….except you are a brilliant writer. Stay well.

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