Cookie Snow

Let it snow…cookies!

The ice storm has settled over us like a broody hen. If I take Boxnoggin out through the back garage door we don’t have to negotiate the deck stairs. That means going past the Mad Tortie’s kingdom, so he has to be harnessed and snubbed. The Mad Tortie is a bit taken aback by this turn of events, since we all know Boxnoggin likes to play rough and the Tortie has no desire for any such shenanigans, so the sooner this weather eases up the better for everyone. Still, it’s nice to have options–and not to be dragged off the bloody deck at the end of a leash, ending in a bone-snapping heap.

If the power holds there will be more holiday baking today. In the past week, there has been a positive cyclone of cookie-making and the like; you can see some delicious results above. I’m quite enamored of the new snowflake cookie-cutters, they’re my absolute favorite. The Princess has promised more in that direction, and also some challah. All we need now is for the electricity to keep going as it has been.

If the grid tanks under the weight, well, we’ll hunker for the duration. We’re as prepared as it’s possible to be.

I wish you a pleasant holiday, my beloveds, with as much excitement or peace as you prefer. I’ll be back on the blog sometime after Boxing Day, and of course I’m over on Mastodon and CounterSocial near-daily.

Be safe out there.

Candy Scrabble

Might even be a bingo!

Our bowl of Halloween candy (just visible near the top of the photo) contained bite-size Snickers. Naturally, right about the time the first sugar rush hit I got a bright idea, started fishing them out and made a whole word. My daughter groaned–the game was afoot–then started digging. My son gave a chortle and dove in to help.

We’d’ve gotten more if we hadn’t been dipping into the bowl all afternoon. Still, the shout of joy each time we finished a word was inordinately satisfying. Four and three-quarters isn’t a bad score for this game, and we celebrated with pizza and another delicious, delicious sugar rush.

It’s been a helluva week, my friends. We’re on the downhill slide, and there might even be some candy left. Chin up, machetes out, chocolate on our chins–we’re ready.


Cheese and Hilarity

Super cheesy.

For about three weeks the talk chez nous has been about the existence of this particular item. So, naturally, the Princess picked some up at work before meeting me to finish grocery shopping. We arrived home and immediately put a pot of water on the stove.

The entire household gathered to put away groceries (the kids), actually cook the damn thing (me), and to get entirely underfoot while wriggling with excitement (Boxnoggin). Things were very crowded and I’m not entirely sure where the bacon went, but that’s a problem for another day.

Anyway, we shared out our lunchtime portions of very, very orange glop. Child-me would have been delighted; adult me was nonplussed.

“It’s the aftertaste,” my son said solemnly, after we’d tasted it. “Yep, definitely the aftertaste.”

“Something that smells like this should be crunchy,” my daughter added.

Naturally I focused not on the mild observation but on fixing a perceived problem. “I guess if we scattered real Cheetos atop it? And…” I paused thoughtfully to take another bite. “…I dunno, I guess if we got really high, then this would be great.”

“It’s definitely weed food,” the Princess agreed.

The Prince is a straight-edge, but he nodded in agreement. “The problem is there’s just not enough in the package.”

In short, we agreed that it would take two or three boxes to make a decent lunch or dinner, that it needed some crunch, and that regular ol’ Kraft with actual Cheetos scattered on top would be just as good when it came to weed food but we are absolutely not under any circumstances allowing the Flamin’ Hot variety into the house. I advanced the idea that adding frozen peas at the end of the pasta-cooking step might be in order to add at least something healthy, and both kids groaned even though that was a childhood favorite. Boxnoggin got a few cheesy pasta curls in his bowl, promptly swallowed them whole, and looked at us with such an expression of patent surprise. The hilarity was total, especially when the conversation turned to the street value of Cheeto-dust flavor packets. (The phrase “Good gods, I’m not snorting that,” was tossed about with abandon.)

All in all, it was $2 well spent–not bad, for almost an hour’s worth of laughter. I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds, and hope you get a chance to share something funny with your loved ones.

Pre-Release Nerves

It’s a lovely grey morning and the coffee tastes fine. I worked through the weekend and there’s a release tomorrow (The Bloody Throne), so I’m worn down to almost transparency. Maybe I won’t work through next weekend.

Yeah. Right.

There’s also a Tea With Lili today; I have a list of questions from previous teas to work through. The worldbuilding chats (Part I is here) were unexpectedly popular–of course, I am always surprised when anyone wants to hear me natter on about things. So today we’ll be answering a few leftover questions from those and then, if there’s time, talking about groups and emotional agendas, because several people have inquired about my remarks on writing/critique groups.

I spent the weekend getting a hush-hush sample together, and that went out early this morning. That was 5-6k of new text, but with revisions and deletions I probably wrote around 8-10k, so no wonder my hands are a little angry with me. There’s a lot of stretching in my future and quite possibly some icing too.

Last night, however, I was rather at loose ends since the sample and my chores were all done, so I bit the bullet and played some Elder Scrolls for the first time. I got a good deal through Steam and ended up running around Summerset Isles with no idea of what I was doing. I miss WoW a lot but Blizzard’s behavior as a company means I can’t play it (or Diablo) in good conscience, so I’ve been looking for an alternative. I could’ve been playing Guild Wars with the Prince all this time, but they’ve retired their Mac version, alas.

So I suppose I’ll learn this other MMORPG. I might even stream it a bit, since both my kids are positively dying to tell their friends “my mum streams games.” I don’t know what the attraction is, but they seem tickled by the idea. I wouldn’t mind streaming a bit of Civ V, actually, though watching me play that is no doubt incredibly boring. I’m honestly surprised anyone wants to watch me do anything at all, let alone chatter while moving a cursor around, but the internet is wide and varied, my friends, and apparently there is room for all sorts of things.

There’s much to do before I can game again, though. I need to get a chunk of work out of the way today, since I know tomorrow’s release will distract me too much. I’ll want to put my head in a bucket of ice water and scream, frankly, since that’s my usual response to “omg the book is out, yes, YES, the book is out.”

On the bright side, I made a huge batch of red sauce yesterday and I think I have my base recipe down now. The kids were very pleased, and tonight it’ll be used for a baked pasta–always one of their favorite things, probably due to the amount of cheese. I also use cottage cheese instead of ricotta, since I don’t like the graininess of the latter.

I suppose I’d best get started on the day. The dogs are not quite excited yet, but as soon as I move for the toaster they will be. Miss B was very pleased I spent this past weekend largely in one place, so she could supervise without much effort; Boxnoggin was not quite so pleased but he had the Prince’s rambling, not to mention watching the street out the front window, to keep him occupied.

…just as I typed that, Boxnoggin stretched, arose from his nap, and wandered over to lay his head upon my knee. That’s my signal that it’s brekkie-time, and he would like his morsel of toast and walkies, thank you very much, Mum, and don’t forget to skritch under my collar as well. So I suppose I’ve my orders, and had best get started carrying them out.

Happy Monday, my beloveds. It’s going to be a long one, but as usual, I’ve the baseball bat well within within reach. Let’s hope that menacing the day is enough to make it behave…

Cinnamon, Heat, Salt

The three food groups.

I love cinnamon candy. I like spicy things. I am a salt fiend. So when I glanced at the table after unloading groceries this past week it made me laugh, and I had to arrange this little shot. The wee sriracha did not come from the grocer’s; it’s from the pho we had to celebrate a birthday here at the Chez. It amuses me deeply, especially the fact that there’s a factory somewhere making the packets.

Happy Friday! I’ll be working all the way through the weekend (as usual) but sometimes, that’s how I’m happiest. I wish you peace, amusement, and many wee packets of fun.

See you next week.

Half-Price Candy Eve

I hear there was some sort of sportsball yesterday; my daughter tells me the grocer’s was swamped with angry, excitable people pushing carts of soda and snack food. I often feel like an alien anthropologist–unlike apparently everyone else on earth, I am no great fan of violent male sports. All I can think of is what happens when everyone goes home from the stadium, or when the television is shut off and a man who has no doubt been drinking starts in on the nearest victim.

There was also some kind of halftime show? And today is a Hallmark-induced “holiday” hijacking an ancient fertility festival, where one grand gesture is supposed to outweigh three-hundred-sixty-four other days per year of acting like an asshole. Amazing how many people claim to think a single gesture is better than quietly doing the damn work to be a better person.

I partly jest, for today is really a blessed day: Half-Price Candy Eve, when we make preparations for braving the outside world on February 15th to harvest a largesse of marked-down chocolate and corn syrup. I love the idea of getting a large sampler just for me, eating only the candies I like, and tossing the rest. My own particular celebration of self-affection, let’s call it. The kids have their own preferences; tonight I’ll get a list from them both.

The weekend was sunny and dry, though blessed rain moved in late last night. In other words, perfect for gardening, and I did a bit of cleanup as well as getting some seeds in the ground. It’s February, so I’m really playing roulette, but plenty of the scattered little orbs of potential were cold-weather happy things. They’ll bolt if we get a warm April, but before then they’ll provide groundcover. I am thinking the two south garden beds should just be given over to dahlias; we just don’t get enough sun for tomatoes what with the firs and all. Alack and alas, because I do love homegrown tomatoes, but one must go with what the earth will bear, not with what one wishes it would. And–limericks aside–I like dahlias.

I’m also possessed of enough energy to work at something like my usual pace again, albeit with more days “off” per week than I’ve ever granted myself. I normally like to work on three projects at a time six days a week; now I am forced to do so only four or five days per, though on days “off” I usually do some outlining (gasp!) solely to scratch the hypergraphic itch enough to grant me some peace. It’s basically throwaway work. I’ve never truly outlined before, except in sort-of-halfass fashion about a third of the way through a project which seems to need it. Any form of planning is always merrily thrown out the window slightly after halfway through a book since the Muse and the work’s own organic shape is well underway by then and nothing I do will halt or alter it one jot or tittle.

I say “trust the work” over and over again. Sometimes it’s a warning, other times a comfort–and yet other times, it’s a cri de coeur. Every time it ends up all right, but dear gods the wear and tear on the nerves is uncomfortable. You’d think I’d learn.

Some things never get easier in and of themselves. Only dealing with them gets easier; the distinction is slight but critical and crucial. If you’re expecting the path to get less rocky, it’s not gonna happen. The rocks are what the rocks are, to paraphrase my grandfather. But dealing with sharp scattered stones–learning where they’re likely located, learning how to conserve one’s energy for dealing with the worst of them, learning when to go around rather than over–does get incrementally less difficult with each run.

The coffee is almost done and Miss B is positively beside herself. She wants me to get my damn toast so she and Boxnoggin can have a crust (she honestly would like both crusts but I insist on parity) before walkies. Unlike Boxnoggin, the rain bothers her not a whit. She has a bloody schedule to maintain, and I am not cooperating as fully as she would like.

She is a very managing canine, and I suppose she’s earned the right to be. After all, she is an elderly statesdog and has turned in many years of supervisory and herding service. If she wants to prod me towards brekkie I will not complain. (Much.) And I will also move at my own pace no matter how irate she gets.

Happy Half-Price Candy Eve, my beloveds. I hope your weekend was everything you wanted, and that this Monday will behave itself. If not, well, tomorrow there’s candy on sale, which should help soothe the sting.

Constant Grinding

Spent most of last night staring into the darkness and listening to the radio inside my head. After finally dropping off, I surfaced somewhat blearily with Kehlani’s Gangsta on repeat inside my skull. I’m still whistling it softly as I type.

I’m sure there are people who don’t have music constantly playing in the halls of their grey matter. I’m told there are people who shut their eyes and have nothing but blessed silence. I can barely imagine what that must be like–my own head always has a tune playing somewhere, not to mention a hamster wheel constantly revolving with story ideas, plot tangles, and story architecture. The third thing perpetually grinding in there is a low-grade hum of worry, speculation, weird facts, funny things, and a stream of self-talk both vicious and amused, all underlaid with constant hypervigilance.

It’s a wonder I get any rest at all, frankly.

I’m waiting for one last distribution platform to propagate the price drop for February’s sale; I can’t blame anyone for it not being ready since I basically decided what I was going to do at the last minute. It still adds to the discombobulated feeling. I’m never quite inside myself during morning hours. Every bit of me cries out to go back to bed; given my druthers, I’d be up from about 2pm to 1am, spend an hour or so winding down, then sleep the rest of the time. Unfortunately, the dogs have their schedule and I must keep to it. Years of two toddlers being Morning People and then their attending school during hours most convenient for daywalkers have left their mark. I always wonder how much more I could get done if I wasn’t continuously fighting my body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

And today is Imbolc, so there’s a tonne of cooking to be done. The bread dough wants attending, and I should play around with making Instagram graphics. (Like this one.) Ideally I’ll get a system down for book ads and the like, since I’m supposed to be using Insta more. I had left because the platform was “liking” posts for me–unethical, as well as nerve-wracking. I don’t hit like or favorite buttons anywhere because it sends me into an anxiety spiral; the instant I touch it, I start thinking someone will be upset because I fave’d one thing and not another, and it gnaws at me until I want to burn down my accounts and leave every form of social media forever.

It’s just not worth the wear and tear on my nerves. I’m sure the algorithm hates me, but that’s fine. The gods know I give it enough food elsewhere.

Oh! On a more pleasant (hopefully) note, I have the first Tea with Lili up. I’m still playing with format and the like, and I dislike all the filler noises I use. It’s all a skill, and learning will be pleasant once I get into my groove. I should do up a list of subjects for teatimes; it’s always better to have structure about so one can depart from it at will.

The dogs are most eager for the day’s ramble, the bread starter is ready to be turned into dough, there are things to roast for soup later in the day, and I should really think about breakfast. The coffee is beginning to soak in, and that’s a mercy. The light is returning; I thought winter would never end, since time has become both elastic and immobile during the plague.

Tuesday beckons. Keep your limbs (and head) inside the gondola, folks, and try not to make eye contact since weekdays often interpret it as a sign of aggression.

See you on the other side…