Older, Better

One of the joys of adulthood is finding out that yes, I am good at cooking and yes, I do have preferences that are okay and can be indulged. Case in point: I made a totally bombin’ cherry tart-type thing, square because I didn’t want it round (for reasons of crust ratio) and it was exactly to my taste.

The Prince ended up eating most of it, but that was okay. Just cooking it and having a single warm slice of something that was exactly how I liked it was amazing.

Lots of people say they’d like to go back to childhood or high school and do it all over again. To hell with that. The older I get, the better my life becomes. Hitting 40 was the best thing ever, because all of a sudden the field where I grew my fucks was barren and I had not a single one left in the warehouse.

I wish you a marvelous Friday full of things you like, my friends. It’s never too late to make a cherry tart the way you prefer it.

Over and out.

Summer Shot

Well, I shut down Haggard Feathers, and I’m waiting for the fact to hit home. It’s always sad when an experiment doesn’t work out. I’m taking some comfort in the fact that it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just *gestures wildly at world events* all this. Retracting in this area will give me more energy for other work, not to mention keeping the newsletter and giveaways alive.

Summer appears to be firing a shot over our bows. Yesterday it was 80F, today it was 74F by 10am and there’s no sign of the mercury halting its rise. At least it’s cooling off overnight, but with both dogs attempting to sleep on me, rest is at somewhat of a premium and the morning walk was one episode of temper after another on the part of my furry, four-legged charges.

Miss B is simply a cranky old lady, but Boxnoggin is young, springy, and what my grandfather (may the gods rest and keep him) would call “nervous.” People look at Lord van der Sploot and see a big black dog; what they don’t see is that he’s scared half to death by a single leaf falling from a tree, or a droplet of rain. He’s just tuned to a really high pitch, and managing him is a fine line between firmness and mercy.

So the morning walk was a constant stream of “mind your manners”, “you know better, that dog barks every time and literally nothing happens”, and “no, eating bees is not the answer, eating bees is NEVER the answer.”

I don’t think he quite believes me upon that last point, but progress is being made.

One of my tea-tankards has developed a crack, but I never quite liked the glaze on it anyway and might patronize the small pottery place I bought it from for new ones. Silver linings! And I have a soy-almond-vanilla creamer that does good things for black tea, so that’s pleasant too.

Tiny victories, tiny luxuries, are getting me through the end of May. It feels like this year has taken forever, doesn’t it? And yet I have to smile, because both dogs are sacked out taking advantage of cool hardwood and AC–another small luxury. We don’t get awful heat often enough for it to be a large one, but when it hits, I am ever so grateful. The decades spent in places without central heating or cooling have given me a deep appreciation for that technological wonder, I can tell you.

I wish you luxuries and victories today, dear Reader, of whatever size we can manage.

Over and out.

Celebrate, Stepping Stone

The weekend was an endurance contest, and I think I won. Barely, but any victory is worth celebrating, no matter how small.

Now it’s a cloudy morning, and I have the Gipsy Kings strumming in my head. Usually that means I’ll be dancing all day, but serious movement will have to wait until I’ve absorbed some caffeine and walked the dogs.

They’re saying we’ll get up to 80F later this week. Summertime, and the living is sweaty. I like winter better; you can always put another layer on or burrow under covers, but taking off your own skin once the prickles of heat rash starts is an entirely different prospect. It reminds me of the Shel Silverstein poem where the kid even takes his muscles off, sitting there as a skeleton, and is still hot.

Today is the very last Haggard Feathers post. I’m really upset at having to let that experiment go. I feel like I’ve let readers down by not being completely bulletproof and able to swallow gallons of the current agony without choking, but maybe at some point I’ll be able to go back to it.

Just… not for a long while.

On the bright side, I go back to work today. There are line edits (thankfully light) on Finder’s Watcher, which will probably be published as Finder. Of course you guys will be the first to know; I’m looking forward to the cover reveal, not to mention preorder information. And there’s a particularly knotty scene in The Bloody Throne I’ve been thinking of for three days, as well as a scene in HOOD‘s Season Three–Yung Gamweil and Vili Rouje in a cave, talking about whatever crosses their minds–that needs finishing.

I’m not working as quickly as I used to before the pandemic hit, but maybe scoping in a bit and cutting off some experiments (though it pains me to do so) will give me enough energy to get back onto the track for other things.

It’s worth a shot, at least.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Reader. I know I say that a lot, but it bears repeating. The world attempts to flog us enough, we don’t have to cooperate or add to it. I’m terrible at taking my own advice, too. So telling you helps remind me.

And with that, I’m off and flying low. Every victory celebrated, but also a stepping stone.

Over and out.

History, Reverberate

I didn’t feel fully awake until about 3km into this morning’s run. Now I’m not entirely awake, but close enough. I could do with a spot more tea, but that will have to wait until after I’m done writing this.

The last Haggard Feathers post goes up tomorrow. I’m sad to bring the experiment to an end, but on the other hand, it will be a relief to stop the time drain so I have some internal resources to deal with the ongoing flood of bad news.

It’s Memorial Day. I spent yesterday afternoon reading Osinga on John Boyd, and once I finished that I moved to Orlando Figes on the Crimean War. I haven’t read about the latter except in fiction; the first time I can remember hearing that particular conflict referred to was a short story featuring Florence Nightingale, which I read when I was about twelve, I think? Or maybe a little younger.

The more I study history, the more I think humans don’t ever really learn. Things just… reverberate. One can trace a certain strain of European conflict from the Roman Empire to the Crimean to World War I to World War II and up to the present day; it’s sobering to sit with the fact that people are killing each other over thousand-year-old grudges. Genocide and war don’t ever really stop, they just mutate, particularly virulent species going quasi-dormant and waiting for the next instance of fortuitous conditions.

It makes me wonder if we’d get further treating violence as a virus.

Anyway, I am not particularly cheerful this morning, though I suspect a cuppa will fix that. I have far too much work to let myself sit in the doldrums for long, thankfully. And a touch more caffeine might make my fingers stop stuttering on the keyboard. It’s taken a ridiculous amount of time just to type these few paragraphs, having to stop for typos and errors every few words. Some days are just like that.

At least it’s raining, the dogs have been walks, and I have some lovely piano music on tap. I’m definitely not in the mood for lyrics today. I woke up with Satie’s Je te veux in my head this morning, which I used to play along with ACDC to get Graves from Strange Angels to start talking.

He was an interesting fellow. And now it’s time for me to make that cuppa.

Over and out.

Firework, in Sleeping Dark

The blood lily my writing parter gave me has resurrected once again. First as a tiny little green nubbin, but now it’s a firework stretching for the window. Each year I wonder if it’ll come back, and each year it comes through like an utter allium boss.

It gives me hope, especially since I feel like I’m clawing up out of ashes lately myself. Makes me wonder if it hurts plants to grow, even if that growth happens in the sleeping dark. Gods know most of my own growth is painful–but then again, would I notice it, if it wasn’t?

It’s been a difficult week. Not as bad as some others lately, but still… difficult. I just keep breathing and moving, hopefully forward. Eventually endurance pays off–I know this, and yet each time I doubt.

May we all rise, may we all find some peace, and may we get to where we’re going even through the doubt.

Have a lovely weekend, chickadees.

Love and Failure

I had to make the painful decision to close down the writing Substack lately, and this morning the notification went out to subscribers. I’m in mourning, I suppose.

I really wanted this experiment to work. It didn’t because pandemic, which nobody could have predicted, and the absolute mess made of pandemic response in the US, which anyone with two brain cells could have predicted when the election was stolen in 2016. It was never a question of if, it was only a question of when a giant disaster would occur, killing swathes of American citizens and enriching the criminal cabal still busily entrenching themselves in power and looting the public treasury.

I love doing writing advice. I love mentoring and helping fellow writers, I love sharing my expertise–such as it is, of course, since each path to publication is unique. And who knows, once all this calms down I might try the experiment again, with better results.

Failure is never comfortable. I keep reminding myself that if not for the pandemic and its associated cognitive load, if not for the terror lurking in my house, under my skin–because I am absolutely terrified my kids will get sick and need hospitalization we can’t afford–I would have energy for all my projects and experiments on the side. I hate the persistent feeling that I’m letting readers down by not being a superhero immune to fear.

Maybe I am a superhero, just not high-powered enough to do all this. I don’t know.

It’s a lovely grey morning outside, misty and perfect. Despite heartbreak and failure, the dogs still need walking, dinner still needs to be planned, and the paying projects still need to be nibbled at. I keep telling myself, like George Burns says, it’s better to be a failure at something one loves than a success at something one hates, but I still wish there wasn’t a bloody pandemic and I had a better chance at being a success at sharing writing advice. I’ll still do the occasional writing post here, but not for a while. Keeping all the other plates spinning is about all I can handle right now.

If you’ve had to shut something you love down because of all this bullshit, my heart goes out to you. It’s uncomfortable as fuck, and it’s all right to mourn. It’s absolutely natural and normal to grieve a project or experiment you had high hopes for. (And if you suspect I’m giving this advice partly because I want to remind myself, you’re absolutely right.) Let yourself feel it, if you can in a safe space; the only way out is through.

So I’m off for dog-walkies. Canine joy is a balm, and will help mend the cracks in my heart. Dogs are too good for us. *sigh*

Over and out.

Adjustment and Loyalty

It’s Tuesday, which means a writing post over at Haggard Feathers for my lovely paid subscribers. (Free subscribers get one a month, paid get one a week.) So far the experiment is going well, but if it doesn’t hit a few targets in the next couple months I’ll be shutting it down. There’s no reason to stay with something that isn’t serving, really.

At least the pandemic has taught me that. To be fair, it’s a lesson I learn every few years. I am ridiculously loyal, well past the point of pain, but I’m learning to be far more selective about what and who I’m loyal to.

When you can’t change something about your own personality, you learn to get sneaky.

In any case, I’m no longer feeling quite so at sea. My office is cleaner than it’s been since we moved into the chez, and all the open space gave me a weird sense of decompression for a few days. Now it’s natural, and the dogs enjoy the acres of floor. Of course they don’t settle on their (expensive microfiber and memory foam) beds–no, that would be too simple. Instead, they wrestle (at high energy and volume) on the bare carpet and end up flinging themselves down back to back and snoring (again at high volume) at various times during the day.

I’m glad they’re happy, even if my ears are ringing.

Now I’m just waiting for the end of shelter-in-place, so I have a chance to take the books purged from the my shelves and move them to where they can find new homes. That alone might be a six-month project once quarantine lifts, but small increments are how I get anything done, apparently, so it’s no great burden. I’m also looking forward to going to the library again, whenever that happens.

The world has changed. So have we. It’s alternately comforting and terrifying to be settled into that change now, and mostly adjusted to the new “normal.” The Princess and I were talking yesterday; I mentioned the last great economic crisis and she cocked her head, looking thoughtful.

“That makes two I can remember in my lifetime,” she said.

“And you’re so young,” I added, at which point she made a face at me.

I’m feeling like we might survive, but I grieve for those who haven’t–and those who won’t. It didn’t have to be like this. I hope we all remember that, every single one of us.

…well, I meant to be more cheerful this morning, but apparently that’s not going to happen. I suppose I should get the dogs out the door for morning walkies. Maybe my mood will improve.

I wish you a pleasant Tuesday, dear Reader, and well-placed loyalties.