Body Detente

So I wrote out the end of the Battle of the Rhodies yesterday…and WordPress promptly ate it. No amount of weeping or digging through caches would find it. Autosave isn’t a selling point if it doesn’t work.

Suffice to say the entire thing went through Dame Barda!Squirl losing a bit of her tail fluff, Boxnoggin falling on Miss B not once but twice in the process of chasing her, and me having to hold a squirming B in my lap while I picked out bits of squirrel hair flossing her front teeth. And, true to form, I was barefoot, screaming, and uncaffeinated. (Yesterday’s post was a lot funnier, but after losing 900+ words of squirrelterror, I’m just not in the mood.)

I ask you, have you ever picked wiry rodent hair out of your dog’s teeth while she grins, well pleased with herself, and tries to wriggle away? It’s one of the gods’ little joys in life, apparently1

Anyway, that set the tone for the entire day. I managed to get seven Poison Prince scenes revised, so at least there was that. As soon as I get that book off to the editor, I swear I’m going to spend a weekend doing nothing but staring at the walls–just like last weekend, I guess. I’m in a pattern of burning myself down to wire and then re-wrapping my insulation, over and over again.2

It gets the books done, though, so I can’t complain. At least, I can’t complain much.

Today is all revisions, all the time, with only short breaks for a run, a shower, and the constant need to feed and coddle this body of mine. Said body has carried me, mostly uncomplaining, for a number of years now, and though I didn’t treat it well in my youth, I’m slowly beginning to approach a detente with it. My frustration at having to stop working to fill it with fuel or dump excess waste is sharp and total, but rarely lasts long.

I’m getting to the point where I resent anything taking me away from the work. Except the kids or the dogs, they get a pass. Otherwise, I’d rather write than eat, sleep, or any number of other things humans are forced to do at regular intervals.

Ah well. Sooner or later I’ll shed this coil like a butterfly, and perhaps there will be books where I’m going next. If not, then by the gods, I’ll make them.

Over and out.

Intermission, Poor Rhodies

I’ll continue the Battle of the Rhodies tomorrow; suffice to say this is a part of the bush in question. The flowers are beautiful, and so bright. The little valley in the greenery you can see at the top of the photo is where Barda hit. Poor thing, she tumbled all the way through; there is a lone tuft of squirrel hair buried in branches near the middle of the clutching branches.

But that’s another story. Have a lovely weekend, my darlings.

Battle of the Rhodies, Part I

Seems like May has one or two nasty surprises left for me, but by the goddamn power of Greyskull and caffeine, I shall prevail.

If you’re looking for the newest book, check out the Harmony page. You’ll find an updated listing of where to buy it. I also have a surprise coming in June, so that’ll be nice.

It’s a cloudy morning and I have to get out before the sun burns off the marine layer. Getting heatstruck robs me of several days’ worth of working time, and the dogs aren’t fond of too much sun either. Oh sure, they’ll bask–but Boxnoggin has such a slick dark coat, he soaks up heat like a sponge. B’s undercoat traps air and keeps her relatively cool, but still, it can only do so much.

Anyway, I am lingering to tell you about something that happened this morning. And yes, it involves an arboreal rodent.

Picture your lovely Narrator, pre-caffeinated and blinking, taking the dogs out for their post-sleep unloading of bladder, bowels, and any other passage that requires it. They rocketed down the stairs into the yard, I stayed on the deck and tried to achieve consciousness through the fog that is Before Coffee. I heard a faint scratching but ignored it, all my attention on the fuzzy little assholes choosing just the perfect spot to evacuate.

It wasn’t until Boxnoggin paused in the middle of the yard, one paw lifted (he is a very catlike dog) and stared up at the deck that a vague unease penetrated my usual morning stupor. I thought he was looking at me for direction, and beckoned him to come up the damn stairs for breakfast.

Then I realized he wasn’t looking at me. Well, he kind of was, but mostly, he was looking past me, and up. And up, and up.

I heard that faint skritch-skritch again, and turned with the slowness of a woman suspecting a nightmare.

There, perched upon my roof, was a squirrel. She was a big bitch too–I say bitch partly with admiration, for reasons you, dear Reader, will soon discover and partly because it’s technically correct1.

She had her head turned sideways, watching me with a prey animal’s peripheral vision, and I stared for a few seconds, my brain struggling to catch up. Finally, I gathered my wits, and said, “Good morning.”

Look, I was perfectly polite, especially considering my history with the Knights of the Nut Trees. Unfortunately, I think Lady Barda–for so I have christened this fine dame–was a bit startled at being greeted directly, because she took off across the roof to my left with a scrabble of claws and a flick of her tail.

If that had been the entire interaction, we both would have considered ourselves lucky. But Boxnoggin chose that moment to burst into frenzied motion, barking and heading up the deck stairs in a flurry of fur, nails, furiously wagging tail, and INCREDIBLE NOISE.

I think that may be why Big Barda decided the wide open acres of the roof would not provide safety. She’d probably dropped there from one of the firs and was looking for a snack in the gutters–they hide everything in there, the little fuzzy bastards–but she had neglected Rule One of assassinations and squirrel antics:

ALWAYS KNOW YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE.

She didn’t have many options–vertical gutterslides, but those are hidden from the roof itself; the chimney, but that’s a dead end unless she wants to end up in my fireplace (Christ please no); the apple tree, but that’s a big leap even for a flying rodent. And then there was what I realized in retrospect was the only choice.

The rhododendrons.

There are some in front, of course, but she was on the roof’s reverse slope, so artillery and the front bushes were safe from her depredations. The two in the back, however, were a long but not impossible leap, and have the added benefit of leaves and flowers to provide cover. When you’re startled in the middle of a wide expanse, of course you start running for the treeline.

So she did. She hopped the gutter and pushed off from its far lip, sailed like Supergirl in a graceful arc, and crashed into the biggest of the rhododendrons with an explosion of twig-snapping and flower-shaking.

Squirrel!Barda made the jump, which was great.

Unfortunately, the noise alerted not just Boxnoggin, who turned himself inside out reversing course to scrabble down the stairs he’d just climbed, but also Miss B, who was across the yard and had just finished her morning wee.

In other words, B was feeling considerably lighter, and the noise had warned her of an intruder. She clearly didn’t know whether it was fire, flood, or invasion, but her elderly self was certain, in one blinding instant, that she had been called upon to ride to Gondor.

And all I could manage was a faint, “Oh Christ no…” as Boxnoggin reached the foot of the stairs and took the hard right towards the rhodies. B’s haunches rose, and she took off like a bullet.

It still might have turned out all right, if not for one small problem.

Barda is a very large squirrel, and that much mass at that much velocity was too much for her chosen landing-branch to take.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Advent Madge, and Clarence, Too

Gallow & Ragged

April was difficult. Between recovering from several birthdays, late celebrations of said birthdays, freaking out over approaching epic fantasy deadline, and worrying about everything under the sun, it’s a wonder I didn’t lose what little sanity remains to me.

I did wake up today with Jody Watley and Glenn Campbell duking it out inside my earworm space, so at least there’s that. And I have, courtesy of a bead show, some new chandeliers to try earring designs with.

There’s also this beautiful lady:

Her name is Madge. I did some work for Dee’s Darlings, and Madge decided to come work for me for a bit as a thank-you. She is adorable and gets along well with Veronica and Isabelle. (You’ve met Veronica the Office Oracle, Isabelle is…difficult to explain. Maybe later this week.) Veronica in particular is happy to have an amanuensis, though Madge’s shorthand is impossible for anyone but her to read.

Veronica: CHICKEN SCRATCHES. AND I’VE NEVER SEEN A CHICKEN.
Madge: YOU CALL IT SCRATCHES, I CALL IT JOB SECURITY.
Isabelle: YOU TWO AREN’T FIGHTING, ARE YOU? WE ALL NEED TO GET ALONG.
Veronica: NOBODY’S FIGHTING, IZZIE.
Madge: *scribbles furiously*
Isabelle: ARE YOU SURE? BECAUSE I COULD BRING YOU SOME FISH–
Madge and Veronica, in tandem: NO FISH.

…yeah, things have been interesting around here lately. I should tell you guys about Clarence the Squirrel. It’s more of a title than an actual name, because Clarence is “the squirrel what’s actually got the peanut, you see,” and dinner hour a la Chez Saintcrow has gotten really strange since the kids love to put out a handful of peanuts while we eat, then wait for developments.

Anyway, the Clarence is the mug what’s got the peanut, and Ralph and Jeff are the mugs what don’t, and the deck has become the scene of a dinnertime drama almost Lynchian in its feverish intensity. (I almost made a Blue Velvet ether-sniffing joke the other night and caught myself just in time.) Clarence constantly wishes to keep their find from Jeff and Ralph, and the instant one of those picks up a peanut they become Clarence. (It’s kind of like Olsen Twins, who, being older no longer vibrates at such a high frequency.) Jeff and Ralph usually team up against the Clarence, and once a squirrel loses a peanut they become a Jeff or Ralph.

Understand? Good, because I didn’t for days and the kids had a sort of “Who’s on first” routine they were running. And poor me, with my head stuffed full of preindustrial technology and travel times, not to mention worrying about the damn mortgage, didn’t quite catch up with the train for a bit.

Parenthood, man. It never stops being a complete and total trip.

I even got some gardening done this weekend, which only brought home how much more there is to do. Maybe I’ll just grow nasturtiums this year instead of turning over the veggie garden.

In any case, it’s time for a run, and if I play my cards right, I can finish the zero of The Poison Prince this week. It would be nice to get that corpse on the table so it can be revision time instead of “I keep stabbing this book and it won’t DIE” time. Of course once I do, it’s time to get the zero of HOOD‘s Season One out. Then there’s revisions on Harmony, and and and…

…so, just as usual, my chickadees, I bid you a fond farewell until tomorrow, and vanish, cackling, in a cloud of scented smoke.

Peanut Blackmail

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. The Princess brought home a big bag of roasted, unsalted peanuts, and is leaving handfuls on the deck.

For the squirrels.

“Maybe if we’re nice to them the hijinks will stop?” she said, when I raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, my dear sweet springtime child,” I said (for she is), “blackmailers never stop if you give them what they want.”

Time will tell who’s right, but I have a weapon standing ready by the back door.

Just in case.

Finally Meme’d

It’s very warm for March, and you know what that means.

Bees.

I will be heading out to run soon, and I’m sure they’re waiting to crawl into my hair, gonna attempt to nest in my mouth, just can’t stop thinking about putting their feelers in my nose–and all while I’m trying to run.

This is entirely separate from squirrels noticing that when I take Sir Boxnoggin out for walkies or running, he’s tied to my waist and can’t do much more than lunge. Oh yeah, they’ve figured that out, the little arboreal nuisances. Just the other day we came home and a particularly sleek, rotund fellow with a bottle-brush tail zoomed across the driveway, stopping once to flick said tail in Boxnoggin’s general direction. I could swear I heard a tiny guffaw.

That was the same day the Princess informed me that the damn squirrels had been doing reconnaissance up to the front door. “They’re watching us,” she says balefully, at different points through the day. “There was one in the apple tree outside the dining room window, too.”

This does not bode well at all.

In brighter news, I took a picture of the proof copy of the Roadtrip Z omnibus yesterday.

And some fine upstanding soul popped into my feed with this work of art:

I laughed until I couldn’t breathe and the dogs were licking excitedly at my face, my phone, and whatever else they could reach, wondering what the hell.

Finally, I’ve been meme’d. What a time to be alive, my friends. I don’t even mind that today’s run will be full of bees and the dogs will probably try to drag me after a laughing squirrel.

Over and out…

Mission Creep, Squirrel Inquisition

Significant progress on a Sekrit Projekt this weekend, in between everything else–finishing up after the barrage of birthdays and houseguests, not to mention extracurricular activities, errands, and–always my favorite step–cleanup. Once again, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend, but there’s no relief in sight, just more work. It would be nice to feel like I could slow down once in a while without the risk of starving, but such is not my fate.

I love being able to work at a high, hard pace for long periods of time; I also like my infrequent fallow periods. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if, through illness or injury, I lose either.

Then I wipe away cold sweat, laugh somewhat unsteadily, and get back to work. Really, what else can one do?

At least I get to run with the dogs, and I get to sink into one project instead of spreading myself between two or three today. The Poison Prince needs more of my attention than it’s been getting, and I have a chat to accomplish between a sister and brother, both the babies of the family, marveling at how their roles have changed. Siblings are much the same the world over, but it still requires thought–and I also have a lady in waiting to get out of the palace and into trouble.

It would be nice if the world would stop burning for a little bit so I could concentrate. As it is, I have to ration my peering and peeking at certain social media. Empathy is a distinct handicap, living in these most interesting of times.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been wanting to read more romance lately. Sinking into worlds where there are happy endings, where work and virtue is rewarded and asshats punished instead of being given advantages the rest of us could only dream of…well, it’s a nice thought, and an anodyne. I have a Dostoevsky on tap, but I’m not sure I can take it without a romance or two to balance everything out. I’ve even caught myself going back to an unfinished Watcher book, wanting to tell a story I know ends relatively well instead of…well, other things.

Sure, in all my spare time, right? Maybe a slight refocusing of my work schedule is called for…

…but that’s next week’s job, when I’ve finished catching up and taking a deep breath for the rest of March. I feel like there’s been some mission creep here on the blog as well–how long since I’ve done a writing theory post, or told you another SquirrelTerror story?

Speaking of the latter, it appears the goddamn tree-rats have figured out my daughter is, well, mine, and heir to whatever invisible mark Neo and his damn crew put on me. The other day I came home from running the dogs and the Princess met me at the back door, looking somewhat puzzled.

“Uh…Mum…”

“What?” I snapped, untangling myself from leashes and pointing Miss B at the water bowls.1

“They were doing reconnaissance,” the Princess blurted. “Like, six squirrels. That I saw, at least. They were up on the porch messing with the front door, too, and a couple were on the deck at the same time.”

“You were sieged by squirrels? I mean, you are my daughter–“

“But I didn’t expect it!”

“Nobody,” I said gravely, “expects the Squirrel Inquisition.”

She gave me a look I can only classify as irritated and deployed an eye-roll that showed she is, still, much closer to her teenage years than I. “Go ahead and laugh.” She heaved a mother-worthy sigh at her gentle dam. “I sound like you.”

“A fate worse than death, I’m sure.” I grabbed my own water bottle and headed to the kitchen, expecting that to be that.

Perhaps my daughter was wiser, because she spent a little while watching the deck with anxious folded arms. She sensed something coming, and she was right…

…but that’s (say it with me) another blog post.