Thorns

For some reason, these bushes and Summer from Gallow & Ragged are inextricably tangled in my head. It might be because Summer’s truename is linked to thorns; she was a handmaiden who loved them, once.

These fellows mean business. Just look at them; I wouldn’t want to fall into their clutches. They’re a defense; these shrubs are common around apartment buildings and homes in this area. Sometimes important things need guarding. I won’t deny I’m feeling a little tender lately, and could use a hedge or two.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Be gentle with yourselves each other. But also, don’t hesitate to use a wall of thorns if you need to protect yourself. We’re all feeling rather bruised right now.

Over Coffee

I did a lot of prep work yesterday; Monday is becoming the day for it. It irks me because I wanted to be writing instead, but this frees up the rest of the week and I did get a bit of wordcount in on the serial. So there’s that, at least.

Being on the internet for as long as I have been, I see certain cycles. People are frightened right now, and frightened people bite. Hard. There’s also those addicted to the emotional jolt of indignation in the mix, and the end result is a flaming pile of wreckage I keep wincing at.

It’s a sunny morning. I’m waiting for the coffee to cool a wee bit before I can bolt it and get the dogs sorted. If all goes well Boxnoggin will run with me. He’s oddly calm this morning, probably because I was up late and rolled out of bed early.

I’m retracting like a salted slug on all social fronts. I just want to bloody well write. At least the copyedits for The Poison Prince don’t look bad, and the book is long and complex enough to keep me very occupied for quite some time. After that, it’s finishing the zero for HOOD‘s Season Three and The Bloody Throne, then there’s The Black God’s Heart to consider. I’ve a plethora of work, always where I prefer to be.

Still, I feel like I should be juggling more, doing more, being more, though. The idea that one is never quite doing enough finds fertile ground in any fault line, and nowadays, we’re all full of cracks and fissures.

…ah. The coffee has just reached the perfect temperature. There’s that moment when a hot drink is just on the edge of scorching, where it won’t hurt but still makes your teeth tingle. I can almost feel blessed caffeine translating across my gastric wall and into my bloodstream.

Certainly it’s a legal addiction, but it’s also a very pleasant one. I’m having to forego my jolts in the afternoon, though. I don’t sleep when I have espresso after noon. Fortunately tea is still very okay, and I have a neat chai powder mix that doesn’t make me vibrate. The latter is Spicy Enough, which is not usual–I like a lot more cinnamon, clove, and pepper than most. Plenty of chais just don’t have the taste kick I’m after, or, if prepared to spec like Tao of Tea’s variant, give me the shakes.

There was that one time I was out with my writing partner, and we visited a Tao of Tea storefront with a teahouse attached, and I drank a whole pot of the 500 Mile Chai. For the rest of the afternoon I was sweaty and edgy, and not in a fun way. (I’m surprised the Selkie didn’t bash me over the head and roll me out of the car on the freeway, frankly. Girl has a lot of patience.)

OH! I meant to tell you guys about Barda, Boxnoggin, and the Birdfeeder, but that’ll have to wait a bit. It’s in there, it’ll just take me some time.

I’m almost to the bottom of the mug. Which means two things: The good chewy bits packing a bit more caffeine punch are about to be stuck between my teeth, and it’s almost time to brush said teeth and get out the door. Dogs aren’t gonna exercise themselves–or, they will, but not in a way anyone around here will end up being comfortable with.

It’s strange. Most of my daily life hasn’t changed an iota. The rest is unrecognizable, and not just because it’s wearing a mask.

Be kind to yourself today, dear Reader. People are everywhere afraid, and fear makes us do strange things. I spent a good twenty minutes screaming into a pillow yesterday. As meditation strategies go, it was strangely effective. I did apologize to the pillow afterward, but it said there were no hard feelings because it was doing what it was designed for and happy to help. Nobody was hurt and I ended up feeling a lot better.

Now if I can just get my heavy bag up…

Over and out.

Never Completely

I’ve taken to sprinkling a little rooibos chai powder into my morning coffee. The spice helps me feel a little more awake; the only problem is there’s no added caffeine.

Ah well. Nothing is ever completely perfect.

We’re having lovely weather. Sometimes in spring we’ll get a spate of 70F days, with pollen drifting golden in the air, and it’s so beautiful one almost manages to overlook the fact that it’s treegasms floating everywhere. As a result, people are taking walks up and down the street all day, which sends Boxnoggin into a frenzy of “DON’T COME INTO MY YARD, HOW DARE YOU WALK ON MY STREET, HOW DARE” several times a day.

He’s very protective, this box-headed van der Sploot.

I haven’t fully recovered from last month’s bug, whatever it was. If it was the current plague, we’re likely immune, but there’s no way to know without tests and there are no tests to be had. So I guess I just… wait, and worry. And try to get rid of some of the mucus.

There are good things about quarantine, though. I’ve found some new writing music; today I’m trying out this recipe. It’s hard to work unless I shut off the wireless entirely; the temptation to look at what’s happening in the world and feel that sick thump of worry and pain in my midsection is overwhelming.

It’s not that I want to slow down and Lookie-Lou at the car wreck. It’s that I want to help, and my inability to immediately fix this for everyone I love–or indeed, anyone at all–is a torment. Everything I see on the news makes me long to do something, anything to help.

I know I help most by staying home, by being careful, by loving the people I’m close to and taking care of my neighbors. But still… I wish I could do more.

Anyway, there’s subscription fiction drops to get out the door today and the open thread over on Haggard Feathers to attend to. Plus I should brush the detritus of shipping off my new African violets. (They were on clearance; I’ve got to get my scrawny, overlooked plants somehow.) I gave them yesterday to settle in their new homes and get a drink, now we clean them up a bit so they can breathe more easily. Growing medium tends to shift a little during transit.

But first there’s the dogs to walk–without having to take care of them, I don’t think I’d be able to get up in the morning and face all this–and my rooibos-chai-laced coffee to finish swilling. I’ve managed two days’ worth of productivity, but I’m not feeling quite back in the saddle yet. I’m feeling, in fact, like I’m on the back of some raging beast who very much wants to shake me off, and is doing its level best.

I had more to say, but I suppose it’s probably a mercy every subject has fled my head.

It’s getting hard to hold on, over here, and a little more difficult to get out of bed each day. How are you managing it, dear Reader?

Staying Calm, Carrying On

I dropped the Princess off at work this morning (of course, since she works for a large service corporation, sick leave isn’t an option, GO ‘MURICA) and decided to do the usual weekly grocery shopping. It wasn’t until I actually got to the store that I realized…

…well, I’m beginning to think we’re doomed. At least, a certain slice of America is.

I did my best to stay six feet away from everyone else. The store was doing its best by allowing people through the door in five-person groups. Unfortunately the herd was fear-crazed and rampaging. Elderly white people were doing their level best to run me over and breathe in my face. The younger people I saw were all attempting, like me, to allow everyone space and wait turns.

Every single person who cut in line, attempted to breathe on me, hip-checked and barged past me, or who was being nasty to a grocery worker was white and over 60. I am absolutely not joking. It was horrifying to see, and I hope I never witness anything like it ever again.

Unfortunately, I suspect that hope is vain indeed. It was like those videos of young people determined to Spring Break on Florida beaches yesterday, a display of selfishness almost unequalled in my experience.

Almost.

I did my best to slow everything around me down, and moved at a snail’s pace. And of course the writer in me was taking notes; all things serve the work. I’m shaking now that I’m safely home, but I wonder how many of the people absolutely determined to be assholes this morning were already carrying COVID-19 and spreading it with abandon in order to get their aloe vera juice and complain at top, spittle-laced volume about the store being out of flour.

Normally we’re pretty well stocked here at the Chez, so I might have skipped the regular weekly trip to the grocers if I’d known it was going to be like this. But once I was there, I figured going through was better than leaving, and since my online groups and IRL neighbors have all been so amazing I trusted naively that everyone involved would be a reasonable adult.

I’ve been wrong before in my life, though seldom to this degree. May the gods have mercy upon us, because white Americans (of any age) seemingly won’t.

Now I’ve got to take the dogs for a walk and do my best to avoid other people during that, too. I knocked off 200 pages’ worth of revisions yesterday; there’s another 280 left in this epic fantasy. Either I’m going down, or this book is.

At least I can work at home. Silver linings, and all that.

Please be kind to each other out there, folks. I’m sorry this is happening; hopefully we can all work together to at least not make it worse.

Zombie Rhubarb, Redux

The zombie rhubarb has returned. This is the rhubarb Odd Trundles did his level best to eradicate while it was in a shaded corner; I had to move the poor thing and didn’t think it would survive. But despite all odds, it’s come back year after year.

A little ragged, a whole lot stubborn, this plant does not know when to quit. Not gonna lie, it’s a big mood I need right now.

I suspect we all do.

Ferment or Roast

A lovely daikon, sliced and placed in brine, then left to think about things. It ends up looking very pink, because I didn’t want to bother with peeling.

And it tastes marvelous. It took me a long time to start fermenting things, but now I can’t stop. I look at all sorts of vegetables and think “hrm, can I pickle that bitch? Or… maybe I can roast it?”

Ferment or roast. Either I drown the vegetable and encourage beneficial rot, or I toss it with oil and engage in controlled burning. And let’s not even talk about what I have planned for summer fruits, since I have all these canning supplies.

Food is weird. And with that thought, my darlings, I leave you to embark upon your weekend. Hopefully you have something tasty to snack on while doing so.