Scene of the Crime

Ouch.

So yesterday while I was blogging the dogs took it upon themselves to show this rabbit–and its belly-squeaker–who was boss. They worked together in true pack fashion and stuffing-guts were strewn in multiple locations. Forensics would have a hell of a time piecing it together, but we think the attack started in the living room, moved to my bedroom, and finished in the office, where you see the corpse’s final positioning here along with some splatter.

We still haven’t found the squeaker. And neither dog shows any evidence of contrition. In fact, this morning they’ve moved on to a tiny stuffed bear…

Hooky in Lacey

I needed some time off from eighteen-hour revision days, so my writing partner said, “Lacey. Let’s go to Lacey.” What the hell is in Lacey, you ask? LOTS OF STUFF.

Let’s just go.

For example, there’s Shipwreck Beads. A warehouse. Of beads and beading supplies. Lest you think, well, that’s not so amazing, let me just reiterate: a WAREHOUSE. Bigger than my own domicile. In fact, multiple domiciles stacked on top of each other, because there were two floors. (We did not head upstairs, the bottom floor was more than enough for multiple hours of browsing.) I’m glad we made a circuit once, looking over everything, and then decided on purchases, because if we’d taken a cart (yes, they have CARTS, for BEADS) neither of us would have gotten out with any money left at all.

BEEEEEEEEADS.

I sent that picture to the kids, and the Little Prince responded with, “You’re hitting the right…beads!”

Punning is apparently in his genetic code.

Anyway, once our endurance was exhausted there we broke for lunch and found the continent’s sketchiest Mexican restaurant right next to a biker garage. (The number of Harleys in the shared parking lot was approaching critical mass.) We also found a much less sketchy restaurant, and if I could ever drink tequila that would have been the place for it.

*sigh* I can’t drink at all anymore, but it’s nice to contemplate, I guess.

Then it was time for the big flagship Cabela’s.

The top floor of redneck heaven.

“I just wanted to see your eyes out on sticks,” my writing partner said, and they were. That particular Cabela’s is warehouse-sized too, but an order of magnitude larger than Shipwreck. And it was packed, both with goods and with people. You could do a lot worse than settle on one of the benches there and people-watch, listening for dialogue snippets. (All things feed the work.)

In the middle of the vast space was a two-story fake hill covered with taxidermy animals. Yes, you read that right.

Find the squirrel?

What I didn’t take a picture of, though I should have, is the hollowed-out interior of the hill, where the aquariums are. Sturgeon, trout both rainbow and speckled, pike–and big fish, too, just swimming around. Oh, and catfish. Boy howdy, were there ever catfish. I’m pretty sure that when the poor things get large enough they’re hauled out and consumed by the employees. There was even a polar bear (shot in 1970, according to the placard) and–are you ready?–a whole zebra, which was not on the fake hill but on a platform jutting out from the mezzanine.

We did not see a huge chunk of pink camo, which my writing partner assures me is otherwise a staple of the place. (She was a bit put out by this, to tell the truth.) But I scored some good hoodies for a fair price, which is what I wanted out of the place. Now, along with new jeans, I’m totally ready for winter. Which is good, because today began with grey skies and glorious rain, finally.

The weirdest thing about Cabela’s was in the loo. There was a biohazard sharps container on the wall, and it was pretty full. We figured there’s probably a lot of diabetes in their customer base, because it had a bunch of blood sugar testing strips among the insulin needles.

Cabela’s is also where my writing partner found a stuffed wolverine while I was writing Weasel Boy. I had to go by and say hello.

I’ve heard so much about you…

We returned home with plenty of crafting materials, a squeaky rabbit toy for Sir Boxnoggin, a smoked rawhide bone for Miss B (which she is guarding assiduously while I type this) and various other odds and ends. It was good to get out of the bloody revisions for a little bit, all the characters were starting to blur together and I needed something other than chewing the bones of an epic fantasy for a few hours. And now, of course, along with proper hoodies I’ll live in come winter I have enough earring material for MONTHS.

Today, of course, it’s back to the grind of revision–taking each sentence, turning it upside down, shaking it, using a scalpel to pare it down to bone. I’ll work better for having had a brief break, and I might even get this bloody revision done. I’m so far in the weeds I can’t even think about what it will feel like to have this book off my plate, and it irks me every time I look at my task list.

So that was my weekend, my hoopy froods. I hope yours was similarly enchanting and terrifying.

*wanders off to go back to work*

A Wooden Road

On a ramble with both dogs, I rounded a corner and found a wooden road leading into sunshine. I wondered where it went, and if I hadn’t had two leashes wrapped around my waist and a healthy aversion to possibly falling and breaking my fool leg, I might have followed it just to see.

Adulthood means walking away from a possible leg break. But, more importantly, it also means I can choose a time and go back, and climb that road. Maybe just a little, maybe more, maybe just to see where it leads, maybe to peer through at the end and catch a glimpse of the Good Folk at their revels.

Not that I wish for such a thing…but I could, if I wanted to.

And that makes all the difference.

Peanut Wars

I thought it was the squirrels burying peanuts all over the backyard. I find them in the unlikeliest places, and often I can’t figure out how the bloody tree-rodents managed to drive them into packed earth without disturbing anything around.

This morning, however, I was trimming my hair on the back deck 1 and a plump, extremely iridescent bluejay swooped into the yard carrying a peanut from the squirrel-feeders next door.

What? Yes, some people actually feed the little arboreal assholes. Case in point: our curmudgeonly neighbor, who is bitter as gall but also takes care of all the stray cats in the neighborhood as well as keeping feeders supplied with corncobs, pressed squirrel loaf, and peanuts.

Many are the strange things in suburbia.

Anyway, the thing that caught my attention was not the bluejay’s bright plumage. It was his silence. Of course, he had a beak full of peanut2 and was casting nervous glances at every corner of the yard.

I kept going, and he obviously judged me little threat. He flew down, set the peanut carefully aside, and pecked among the violets. I thought he was probably looking for a good place to wedge the peanut so he could peck it open, but no. He pecked out a shallow hole, dropped the peanut in…and began ramming it with his beak, driving it deeper.

All in complete silence. Now, bluejays are extremely vocal, but this fine feathered fellow is excessive even among his type, and the quiet was a bit unnerving.3

I was glad the dogs weren’t out to see this. The last thing I need is Sir Boxnoggin discovering the joy of chasing yelling featherballs.

Anyway, BattleJay–so I have named him for his constant sonic assaults upon the backyard–was finally satisfied as I finished trimming my fringe.4 He flew away, and I heard him screaming something that sounded suspiciously like The British are coming, hide your fokkin pewter! in another neighbor’s yard while shaking ripe apples down from their tree.

And then, my friends, Batgirl the gymnastic pole-dancing squirrel scampered from one of the surviving cedars along the back fence. She had been watching with a great deal of beady-eyed interest, I guess, because she went straight for the buried peanut and got to work. She dug it out like a pair of rabid tweezers digging for a tick, and once she had her ill-gotten gains it was back into the cedars with her head held high–because the peanut was almost bigger than her head, too.

I almost admire the thieving little dumbass. Almost.

BattleJay has not returned. But when he does, I suspect there will be hell to pay…

King and Gemini

Spent most of the holiday yesterday working, of course. I didn’t mean to, I just sat down to tinker with a scene that had been giving me trouble and…the next thing I knew, it was lunchtime. After shambling out to eat, I decided I had too much momentum to quit.

The next thing I knew, again, it was time to turn the oven on and start making dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve fallen into revisions like that, and I’m grateful it’s finally happened. Momentum is better than drag.

This morning, standing on the deck while the dogs went about their business, I could see my breath. The days are still warm, but the nights are becoming crisp. The year has truly turned, thank goodness. I can’t wait to see the back of 2018. It hasn’t been as bad as some other years, at least not personally, but I will be extremely glad to shut the door upon it and kick a wedge underneath to keep it closed. Too much bad luck happening to people I care about, and too much fascism in the air.

I’ve also been on a Stephen King jag, my brain rebelling at research reading. I tried Doctor Sleep, but the ongoing misogyny was jarring. I mean, King’s never been a feminist–just look at IT, for God’s sake–but I was hoping for something like the terrible objective lighthouse beam of compassion he turned on Jack Torrance and his alcoholism. I was really, really hoping…but no. It’s been a long time since I set a King book aside; I think Tommyknockers was the last one–but I had to.

Instead, I’ve gone back to his earlier works. Not my favorites, but the ones I perhaps didn’t get the first time around, being extremely young. Like Christine, for example, which is really well-constructed. ‘Salem’s Lot, another hideously misogynistic book, is nevertheless a book that has internal consistency even in its horror.

It’s that internal consistency I miss most when I read King’s newer stuff. The ending of Needful Things was probably the first time I ever saw it slip1, and it boded ill for later. The place where that consistency is truest, of course, is in the short stories and novellas, so I’ve gone back to Skeleton Crew and Different Seasons and Night Shift, perhaps my favorite of the anthologies.2

I’d forgotten John D. MacDonald’s foreword to the last, which is a fine piece of writing in and of itself and has one particular bit I always think of–how writers read everything with either grinding envy or grinning contempt, so to speak. Of course, the fellow who wrote the Travis McGee books could spin a yarn or two, there’s no question.

I’ve stopped asking why the Muse wants particular things at particular times. Right now she wants King, and King she shall have. She’s probably turning over the last batch of research reading I stuffed into my head in her hands, humming, while she finds all the edges and polishes them.

That bitch polishes sharp, let me tell you. I’m just glad she isn’t yelling for some Bukowski, who was a champion heavyweight in the misogyny department.

Time to lace up my trainers and take Sir Boxnoggin on a run. Miss B, getting older but not very much wiser (as dogs do) will stay at home today, and that is going to make her a trifle upset. She’ll need some pets and attention when we come home, and will probably chase Boxnoggin around the house, just to show who’s really boss.

We all know it’s her, but she still feels the need to remind the bouncy young Lord van der Sploot that she is the Dowager, and she will not be overlooked. As the Princess often says, I went and got a dog just like me–on both counts. Boxnoggin, like Odd Trundles, is my happy-go-lucky side, and Miss B is my get-down-to-brass-tacks. It probably comes from me being a Gemini.

In any case, it’s time to get back to work. A particularly thorny revision question needs some sweat and feet pounding the pavement to work itself out, and I’d best get started.

Over and out.

Gno More Gnomes

I almost, almost bought one of these. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of what Phil would say, seeing one of his brethren dangling so. (And Willard, of course, cannot be trusted.) Emphysema Joe wouldn’t mind so much, since he’s a live-and-let-live sort, but the rest of the gnome population would take this addition very hard indeed.

Instead, I’m going to save up and get a new body for Norbert the gargoyle. He’s been patient, but living in a jar is beginning to wear upon him.