Well, it’s official. My deadline for submitting my manuscript for White Smoke, the third book in my Victoria Emerson thriller series was today, and for only the second time in my career, I will not be able to answer the bell. There’s never an excuse for not meeting one’s business obligations, but in my case, there were a number of contributing factors. Not complaining, just explaining.
We Gilstraps lost the month of December to Covid-19. We got hit hard. I started it with my 14-day run of sickdom, but by the time it ran its course, my wife had spent 8 days in the hospital, including the span from Christmas Eve through January 3. Everyone is well now, but there’s definitely a brain fog that comes with it.
A Two-Stage Move
Last July, we sold our house in Virginia in anticipation of moving into our dream home in West Virginia. The anticipated move date was December 15 (good thing that didn’t happen!). We moved into a 1,200-square-foot apartment with the thought of staying five months. Seven months later, the new place was finally done-ish. Essentially, we moved into a working construction site on March 12. But that was nearly a month after we took possession of . . .
(Fair warning: This could be the sappiest thing I’ve ever written.)
In her own words . . .
My name is Kimber. I am a Cavaston–a mix of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Boston Terrier. My new parents drove all the way up to Pennsylvania to pick me up on February 15. It was cold and I was scared.
I really had two new homes. I had my apartment, and I also had my crate, which I didn’t mind until nighttime came and then I’d get lonely. John told me that I shouldn’t bark for attention because we were in an apartment with neighbors really close. For the first couple of nights, he slept on the floor next to my crate to keep me company, but then he said it was more comfortable to let me sleep with them in their bed. I liked that better. That’s where I sleep every night now. John takes up a lot of room, though.
I had to go to the doctor for a checkup during my first week at the apartment. The doctor was nice, but there’s not a lot of privacy. They stuck me with needles and squeezed me a lot, but they let me eat spray cheese out of a can while they did it, so I didn’t mind all that much.
Not everybody recognizes the origins of my name. John tells me it’s the same as one of his favorite pistols. One day, when we were visiting the new house before we moved in and the heat wasn’t turned on yet, I got cold and climbed inside of his vest. After this picture was taken, John called me his quick-draw puppy.
These days, we’re all moved into the new house and the construction is over with–well, mostly. John complains that the master bedroom closets still aren’t finished. I like living in the country more than I liked living in the apartment. Out here, I get to pee and poo outside instead of on the little pads that I never really hit. (Apparently, you’re supposed to have your back legs on the pad, too. Who knew?)
Country living can be scary. I was playing in the woods just a few days ago and I saw something that looked like it wanted to play with me, but not in a good way. It kept hissing and trying to bite me. I’m really fast, though. I barked and barked, and finally, John came out to see what was happening. The stranger hissed and tried to bite him, too. He got very stern and told me to go back into the house. A few minutes later, I heard a really loud noise. I haven’t seen the stranger since.
I think John’s really happy that I’m around the house. All day long, he sits in a chair in front of a folding thing with buttons on it, but I’m tall enough now that I can jump right up onto the buttons and help him push them. He pretends not to like me doing that, but he always ends up playing with me. Maybe not the first time I jump up, or the second, but sooner or later, he gives in and plays. He said something about not being able to say no to my face.