Because it was windy and cold this morning at 5:30a.m., I decided to write for an hour--or at least try to--and then walk Thomas. That's when the trouble began.
See, animals are creatures of habit and routine. And like grumpy old men, they become anxious if you switch things up on them. Our usual routine goes something like this: I roll out of bed already promising to take them outside/get their food/fetch fresh water as soon as I brush my teeth, etc. When all their needs are taken care of, I enjoy one cup of tea while checking my email before setting out to walk Thom for a half hour or so.
When Thomas gets anxious, he shakes his head and flops his ears. As the time approaches for us to walk, his ear-flopping becomes like a snooze alarm. He's in the back bedroom, and I'm in the dining room, but I'll hear him get up and then FLOP FLOP FLOP FLOP, the ears go back and forth. I hear it, dismiss it, and go back to answering email. Ten minutes later I'll hear it again, then five minutes later he flops again. If I'm not up and putting my shoes on by then, he trots down the hallway, then into the kitchen, around the island, back down the hall to the bedroom and FLOP FLOP FLOP FLOP.
Mind you, Thomas still does not enjoy walking. After four years, we still begin each walk with resistance, me gently pulling him up the street as he intermittently turns back for home or simply sits his butt down in the middle of the road--
"Mom, wait, there's a monster."
"No, Thom, that's just a trash can. Let's go."
"Mom, wait, no, there's another monster!"
"Thomas, no, that's a raven on top of a streetlight. He won't hurt you. C'mon."
"MOM, NO, NO, NO, WAIT THAT'S A HUGE SCARY FLAPPING MONSTER!!"
"Thomas. That's a flag. It's windy. You're okay, buddy, let's go."
Every. single. morning.
Still.... He knows what the routine is, and if I switch it up, I'm in for ear flapping and the sound of his toenails dancing across the laminate flooring every ten minutes.
And that's just the dog....
Purrl waits for us to walk because she knows that when we return, the sun will be up, the neighbors' dogs all trotting around outside sniffing, peeing and barking, so it's safe enough for her to be allowed into the back yard (like the other dogs... even though she's a cat) to sniff around and settle back on her haunches below the bird feeder and wait... and wish... and twitch her whiskers.... (No, she can't really see the birds up there, since she's mostly blind, but she still hears and smells them.)
But this morning we didn't go. There I was, thinking I would just finish that 44th chapter of the first book in my middle grade urban fantasy novel, and I was really into it, my protagonist dealing with conflict on all sides, when suddenly--
"Meow." Tap tap tap.
"MeOW." Tap tap tap tap tap.
"MEOW!!" Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.
The tapping sound was Purrl, her front feet up on the door to the garage, scratching at it repeatedly so that I would let her out.
"Not yet, Purrl Jam," I said the first time, sweetly.
"No, Purrl," I said, slightly annoyed, the second time.
"Seriously, I'm trying to work here!" I said the third time as I rose from my chair and let her out. "It's cold and you won't like it and you'll be right back in the house in five minutes!" Which she was, of course. Which is about the time I gave up and put my shoes on--because I had returned to the computer only to find Sugar Plum curled in my chair. And since Thomas was making his fifth circuit around the kitchen island, I decided I simply had to cave to their demands.
Sigh. I really do understand why some writers have to leave the house to get anything done.
"Ready go Mom?"