Goodbye, September

Yesterday the full canine complement of Chez Saintcrow was washed, dried, and flea-treated, the grocer’s and pet store were visited for supplies, linens and towels were washed as well, a great deal of other housework was done, and the copyedits on Sons of Ymre #1 were finished. There’s a few final global changes to fold in on the very last, but those are tiny and it’s ready to be sent off and turned into proofs.

And I am so fatigued I had difficulty sleeping. Apparently I’m in the stage of burnout (yes, by now I’m sure it’s not The Plague™) where I’m too wound up for proper rest and just have to push for pure exhaustion to grant me some surcease. If I play my cards right and do the proper kind of work in the proper proportion today, that might happen this evening.

I’m hopeful.

I also received an amusingly nasty missive yesterday, telling me to “shut up about politics and just write [stories]”. I am baffled how the letter writer thinks any of my work is divorced from politics, since I happen to be a human being, and have no intention of hiding my thoughts on the state of the world. Honestly, the things some people will say, thinking the internet grants them anonymity. (Spoiler: IT DOESN’T.) I had to laugh at the absurdity.

On a brighter note, as a treat and reward for finishing CEs, I got myself a subscription to the Criterion Channel, which I’ve been eyeing for some time and saving pennies out of the budget for. I’ve loved their Kurosawa and Kieslowski collections, and am looking forward to diving into the rest of their offerings. After I finish prepping this week’s subscription drop, I might settle with a plate of brownies, plus some cold milk, and watch something black-and-white. (Probably an Ingmar Bergman.)

Hopefully it will be soothing enough that I can crawl into bed early and do something more than just toss and turn. Come tomorrow (October approacheth, good heavens, where on earth did September go? Pandemic time is an elastic rollercoaster) I have to turn all my engines–such as they are, straining and whining–to the proofs of the final Hostage to Empire book. Maybe after that’s marked up and sent back I can take a slightly longer break. (Spoiler: Probably not.)

Miss B and Boxnoggin are no longer damp, but both are a bit perturbed at smelling like shampoo instead of their usual doggy selves. It must be a bit like vanishing; heaven knows when I can’t smell the world due to nasal drip I feel somewhat adrift. They’ll be back to their usual healthy aroma in no time, though, and today’s walkies will no doubt help with that. I’m seriously dragging, but they have kindly allowed me to consume a double jolt of coffee without insisting to be taken around the block posthaste, for which I am utterly grateful. I think they can sense my exhaustion.

I also have an idea for yet another romance novel, which I should stick in a fresh Scrivener doc and set aside to marinate just in case. My romance editor likes suspense, and this one’s a dilly. The brain never stops, even when trembling on the edge of deep burnout. I suppose I’m just not built to rest.

At least there’s lovely grey cloud-cover today and the prospect of rain later. If I had to deal with summer temps and the associated ills I might well turn into a puddle and save all the pearl-clutchers trouble by expiring from pure heatstroke.

And with that, my tongue firmly in cheek and my temper thoroughly reined by sheer tiredness, I shall embark upon prepping brownie supplies and walking very clean (and disgruntled) canines. September and the week are almost over, and my very favorite month approaches.

See you around, beloveds.

Heat, Exceeding Savory

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The first of the season’s blackberries have arrived in our demesnes. We’d need a bit of rain–even a drizzle–to make them sweet and plump, but that’s not going to happen so they will be exceedingly savory for the time being. Especially with the heat wave.

Still, they’re good for the birds, and vines growing in swampy places will get enough moisture to make them perfect. Said swampy places are buried in thickets and protected by thorns, so the wildlife will get the best–but honestly, with what we’ve done to the planet, the fauna deserve the berries more than humans.

The dogs are eager for walkies, and my coffee is almost done. Sadly, neither avocado is ripe, which means my toast will not bear mushed green deliciousness, alas. Somehow, though, I shall carry on.

It is a Friday, after all. Happy weekend, beloveds. We’re almost there.

Mileage and Cheese

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A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.

Marshmallow, Sun Storm, Tuesday

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It’s a grey Tuesday morning and there is not enough coffee in the world. A solar storm is expected to hit the earth today, and frankly I’m not bloody surprised, the way things have been going.

At least the cicadas are quiet, since the temperature drops overnight. They’re probably waking up the same as I am, lethargic and blinking, staggering towards their version of coffee, preparing for an entire afternoon of screaming in the treetops.

Lucky bastards.

Even the dogs are a bit beside themselves this morning. They won’t eat their breakfast and Boxnoggin is in a fractious-toddler mood. I’d say “you need a nap, dog,” but we literally just rolled out of bed. It could be he’s sensing my crankiness.

There are bright prospects, though. The other day I made an offhand comment about using Cocoa Pebbles and Rice Krispies to make treats–you know, butter, marshmallow creme, all that. The Princess got That Look, and when she came home yesterday she was loaded with Cocoa Krispies, tiny chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a plan.

I pointed out there were Cocoa Krispies but no Cocoa Pebbles (her very favorite cereal) in her supplies and my eldest child fixed me with an arch look of amusement. “The recipe I found was for Krispies, so I’m doing it that way first before I alter it.”

I could only nod sagely and mumble, “That means more marshmallow treats for us all, so I can’t complain.”

To which my child replied, just as her mother would, “Damn right.”

She even divided the pan into quarters. One was plain, one was studded with sea salt flakes, the third had tiny chocolate chips, and the last was drenched with homemade salted caramel sauce. Needless to say, that last bit was my favorite, though everyone else in the house is split between the plain and salted quarters.

So, there’s a crispy-crunchy experiment at some time in my future, possibly with caramel. That’s not a bad prospect; it’ll get me through a day of internal wires sparking through worn-off insulation, a both-hands deathgrip on my temper, and my fingertips aching from keeping my claws sheathed.

In any case, I should probably get some breakfast to balance out the caffeine once my stomach settles, the it’ll be time to walk the furry brats. I’m sure there will be hijinks; Carl the Crow has taken to accompanying us on walks around the block. She flits from tree to tree, eyeing me sideways and occasionally letting out raucous yells. I’m not sure if she’s adopted us or is waiting for me to look away so she can torment Boxnoggin–I believe she has not forgiven him for the Jerry Incident.

Speaking of Jerry the Crow, his tail feathers appear to be healing, and he’s having a lot more luck with flying. He’s still apparently only capable of short hops, and he tends to hang around our yard all day because I’m leaving sunflower seeds and the like in easy-to-reach places for him. Sandra and Carl are okay with this too; they keep bringing peanuts and cracking them in the birdbath, filling the damn thing with peanut shells. I think someone in the neighborhood thinks they’re feeding squirrels, though why anyone would do such a thing is beyond me.

We also have a ring-tailed squirrel (christened Einstein) who is up to No Good and seems positively bent on tormenting my daughter. Maybe it’s a family inheritance thing.

I do have a Backyard Tale to tell you concerning Norbert (long-time Readers will remember Norbert the Shattered Gargoyle) but I need more time and energy to write it than I possess today, so it’ll have to wait.

And with that, my beloveds, I shall bid you a fond adieu. Getting out the door before the marine layer breaks and the temperature rises is the name of the game, and since I’ve finished my coffee, breakfast is next. I can only dread what sort of hijinks will occur once I strap the dogs into their harnesses and leave the house.

Wish me luck…

Good Morning, Vitamin C

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Apparently my body wanted something only to be found in potato-leek soup last night, because I had two bowls, went to bed afterward, and am feeling much better this morning. The quiet, shaky sense of returning strength–I hesitate to call it health–is entirely welcome. It’s akin to the relief after one finishes throwing up and slumps trembling near the cold porcelain of a commode, knowing illness will return in a short while but savoring the temporary relief.

So to speak. And you’re welcome for that mental image, I’m sure. Still, it’s the only one that comes close to expressing the feeling.

This morning the sun came through the deck door, making everything on the dining room table glow. The oranges looked good; I could almost taste the light and vitamin C in each one just by watching.

A bowl of soup, a pile of oranges in morning light–such are the simple things that end up saving us. Short-term relief or not, I’ll take it. Maybe if I sleep enough today the tremulous sense of survival will strengthen.

I wish you a sunny Friday and a peaceful weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves; we’ve all been through a lot lately.

Over and out.

Cake and Weird

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The week started out with cake and is ending with were-hamsters (don’t ask) so… it’s safe to say that the weird is still going strong Chez Saintcrow.

Nice to see some things never change.

Here’s the end of last weekend’s cake binge. The red velvet on the left remained unfrosted; it was consumed with whipped cream and fruit. The yellow cake on the right was frosted with chocolate (a classic!) and it did not survive the night. I was able to have slivers of remaining red velvet Monday morning, though.

I’m feeling more hopeful and more social, though I can’t tell how long either will last. Mere survival isn’t easier than rebuilding/healing, but when my focus is a narrow laser pointed at “just get through this” it seems easier than looking around at the wreckage and going “… great, now what?”

Wanting to weep at the sheer amount of damage seems a lot harder than just reacting and keeping oneself together while everything is still an inferno. I know it just requires different efforts in different methods of application, but it just feels harder.

Anyway, I probably won’t bake another cake for a while. That’s fine, there are other tasty things to make and enjoy. And while rebuilding is hard, it’s also a vast improvement over constant daily retraumatization. Perceived effort is, in this case, not quite the whole story.

…I’m still going to need some time to breathe, though. Good thing it’s a Friday.

Have a restful weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves. The wreckage is still smoking, and we have yet to grieve. It’s going to be a long haul.

Magical Siblinghood of Those Who

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I took the weekend off-off. Completely off. I did a little revising, but mostly… I made cakes.

Yes, cakes. Plural.

We started Saturday with a nice white cake, avec whipped cream and sliced fruit. Then Sunday morning dawned, and I was ready. Next came a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (always a classic) and a red velvet cake, also undressed because really, we had whipping cream and strawberries left.

I’m getting to consider most frostings extraneous. Can’t tell whether it’s old age or just a natural evolution of my aesthetics.

In any case, we ate a lot of cake. I realized between one bite and the next I had reached that wonderful stage of I’ve had enough cake, so I got to feel what that’s like. it was almost as sudden as burnout. One moment I was fine, wanting cake like a normal regular person. Then, all of a sudden, I became one of the ones who have had enough cake. It was magical. I don’t expect it to happen again–if it takes three cakes to get there, it’s a bit labor-intensive–but I’m glad I had the experience once.

So to speak.

The kids were all in on this experiment. I’m pretty sure they hit peak cake, too, by the way nothing except slivers of the red velvet survived the night.

So, for breakfast, despite being part of a magical siblinghood of Those Who Have Had Enough Cake, I had red velvet cake with my coffee.

I mean, I wouldn’t want it to go to waste, you know?

And I’ve found out something important. Even after that magical moment when you have Had Enough Cake, your enjoyment of cake is a renewable resource. I don’t know what I would have done should that have turned out to be not so.

Kind of sends a cold shiver up the back, doesn’t it.

But we’ve dodged that bullet on a Monday, and the dogs–who could not have much cake, since there was chocolate in a majority of it–need walking. Just as soon as I finish my coffee.

And maybe just the tiniest remaining sliver.

Of… yes.

Of cake.

Happy Monday.