Frost, Fog, Head

There’s a thick layer of frost on every roof–well, it is still January–and a heavy fog is closing over the neighborhood at eerie speed. We’re having some sort of weird weather event to match the summer’s many record-breakers; there’s a stagnation warning that bodes ill for running and the fog is coming in waves as the air thickens, clotting like cream.

It’s not rain, and I can already feel some heaviness in my lungs. I’m unamused.

My weekend started out well enough, but halfway through Saturday I was struck with the worst headache I’ve had in literal decades. It might’ve been a migraine, though I haven’t had those since before the Princess was born. It certainly had the pre-strike aura and associated vision problems, which of course irrationally convinced me I had caught the plague and micro-clotting had stolen my eyesight. I crawled hopefully into bed with a posset of self-medication, which seems to have worked.

Despite that, much of the housework was accomplished Sunday while I was still weak and shaky, and this morning I’m at about eighty percent fighting trim. Better than nothing, and enough to get me started on the day. I am no longer deadly convinced I have the plague, which is a blessing since there are no tests to be found for love or money and the pittance of them coming from state and federal authorities, even if they had arrived (three years into the pandemic, wow), would need to be reserved for a greater emergency–like one of the children coming down with something impersonating a bad head cold.

I can still smell everything, and could during the maybe-migraine, which was a mixed blessing indeed. I am hesitating to call it an actual migraine, because the gods know the last thing I need is those coming back. I’m going to choose to call it just a really severe stress reaction, like the burnout I had last year which sent me to bed for eighteen hours a day, sleeping as if I was being paid to be unconscious.

The mist is still attempting to smother the world, thickening as I type. The dogs don’t really care for it; Boxnoggin walks as close to me as possible when it’s foggy, and B is only restrained from circling us by the leash, which makes for fun times.

Once they’re walked they’ll settle, and I can go back to Hell’s Acre. There’s a foundry fire and a burgling of the villain’s house to write, then a rooftop battle and perhaps a trap to spring. The Muse is being cagey about the latter, but soon it’ll reach the point where she has to pony up or simply live with the decisions I make on my lonesome, and heaven knows she doesn’t like that.

I did watch the new Tragedy of Macbeth, and it was very good. No surprise there–Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are always worth the price of admission. I am not a giant Coen brothers fan–I find them very hit and miss, though when they hit it’s a resounding one indeed–so I was surprised and relieved that the staging was so simple, direct, and such a love song to silent film. The many Bergman, Artaud, and Fellini callbacks tickled me positively pink as well. All in all, I found it thrilling, and very much worth the time. The first half held me during the ramp-up of the terrible headache, and that is an achievement.

So it’s off to the races on a foggy Monday. Every once in a while a crow calls through the gloom. Probably Carl, keeping track of Sandra and Jerry. If the dogs and I get out the door before ten-thirty or so they’ll no doubt shepherd us, fearing we might lose our way as dumb earthbound things often do.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. And treat the fog with caution. We’ve all watched the horror movies, you know…

Broken Hook

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Broken, yes. Still good?

We have a set of large red cappuccino cups the kids have used as cereal bowls for decades. They’re huge, chipped, and incredibly useful. They’re also showing their age, like any beloved long-term item.

The handle broke off one of them while the kids were doing dishes. The Prince made an amazing catch, trapping the bowl between his hip and the counter with enough force to arrest its fall, but not enough to dent or chip it.

Bowl’s still in use, and I think I’m going to hot-glue magnets to either end of the handle. I can use it to hang things on the fridge, or it might go on the space above the cupboards where I daubed magnetic primer and then chalkboard paint. We’ll see.

I keep making new things out of broken bits. Some of them work, some…well, at least I gave it a try.

Have a good weekend, beloveds.

Damp and Dry

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Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

Not That Broken

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Today we have both the plumbers and the appliance repair people scheduled to come by–one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It would have been just the appliance repair people to look at the dishwasher, but apparently fixing the leak under the sink last week created a new leak under the sink.

2022 continues to keep giving.

Everyone will be masking and I’ll sanitize what I can between the visits. The dogs will be Very Upset at being placed in Durance Vile–i.e., one in my office and the other in a bedroom, both with highly cushioned resting places they will not use because they will be busy screaming, “MOTHER! HOW DARE!” through the door.

It will be very Man in the Iron Mask around here. Or like the scenes in Ruyi’s Royal Love when a schemer is dragged to the Bureau of Punishment.

Last night the kids were washing dishes and the handle of one of our red cappuccino mugs decided to separate from its bowl. The Prince rolled a critical dex save and caught the bowl on its way down between his hip and the counter, gauging the force perfectly so nothing else broke. From the expostulations I thought something else had gone wrong with the plumbing, so I hurried into the kitchen and found both children (I should call them something else, they’re both of age to vote and smoke by now, and fifty percent of them can legally drink) laughing like loons.

“It’s broken, yeah,” the Prince gasped through his merriment, “but not that broken.”

Which is sort of the running theme around here. Broken, yeah, but not that broken. We’ll make do, route around the damage until we can’t anymore. Perhaps things will be better before it reaches the “can’t anymore” point.

I also have the ball in Hell’s Acre to write, as well as figuring out whether or not the ambulance in the beginning of the second Sons of Ymre book is staffed by regular people or…otherwise. I think it’s the former but I can’t be sure until I actually get there, so it will be exploratory writing, feeling my way in the dark until I reach a flash that illuminates the room. I’m glad to be head-down in stories again; I am having very little luck with the world outside.

The inner ones are always better.

Of course, Avery’s being cagey about what precisely his plan is other than burning down a few buildings. He has to have a deeper gambit; it’s not like him to stop at a wee bit of arson. He has to be hoping to find something elsewhere (since he got all dolled up like a gentleman for the evening) and may or may not be expecting…

…but that would be telling. I’m sure he suspects there’s a spy or two even among his Rooks, so I’ve got to go very carefully and see what on earth he has planned. It’s not yet time for me to gently remind him who’s in charge of this entire rollercoaster; I figure I’ll let him run a bit before I apply the leash.

So to speak. The imaginary people inside my head are a real carnival of fun, kind of like ordinary outside ones.

I will be glad to see the back of today, no matter what happens. I can’t believe it’s only a week and change into January, it already feels like this year has been a century long. Pandemic time is as weird as publishing time, and that’s saying something.

Let’s all get through today however we can. And keep our baseball bats handy.

Over and out.

Little Kindness

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A tiny bravery.

If all goes well, this will be a silk tree. Of course, a lot depends on if I’ve provided the right growing conditions, and if the seed was truly viable and not damaged by recent weather. If it doesn’t work out, the tree one block over will produce a new crop of seedpods next year, and I’ll try again.

Assuming we’re still here next year, that is.

There’s just a hint of green, and it’s by no means certain. A hundred things could go wrong. I have another seed in a similar pot, and will try to coax both along. Over and over I plant, and whisper encouragement, and wait.

If everything goes as I hope, there might be a sapling in our yard next year, but that’s no guarantee either. Insects, rot, drought could all strike–we had a tiny oak that didn’t survive last summer’s 115F heat dome. (Thanks, corporate-fueled climate change!) But who knows? Maybe we’ll have a silk tree eventually, with its marvelous powdery scent for a few weeks in summer and its pretty pink and yellow blossoms.

Of course, by then we might not be in this house, or something. No guarantees there, either.

But still, it’s important to whisper a little love into any seedling one can. I’m feeling low and drained these days, my beloveds, and doing my best to hold on. A little kindness, a tiny murmur, a small corner where the growing conditions can be tweaked and helped along…it’s all I can do. I don’t know if it’s enough, but it’s what I’ve got.

Be kind to yourselves this weekend, dear ones. These are terrible, extraordinary times, and we’re all on our last frayed nerve.

See you Monday.

Victory, Price, Laughter

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I should have known that every victory on the first Monday of 2022 would exact a price. It was going so well, too! I finally got repair for the dishwasher and the kitchen sink scheduled, not to mention some actual work on Hell’s Acre and Sons of Ymre #2. I went to bed feeling reasonably content, even if things are not exactly ideal.

Alas, Past Me was apparently an unforgivable optimist. But maybe I’ll feel better about her habit of being hopeful after coffee. I suppose writing while uncaffeinated, as I am currently doing, means a touch of growl seeping into my voice.

The upshot of all this is that there’s errands today. Hopefully I can get them done with a minimum of fuss and retreat homeward, giving ground very slowly and making the year work for every inch it gains. The stage after the loss of sunny optimism is grim determination, teeth sunk into the hide of the monster and my claws working deeper and deeper, seeking a vital hit.

On the bright side, the heroine in Sons #2 is talking. She’s far different than the heroine in #1, which is only to be expected, and I think she’s just exactly what’s needed. But I made a mistake in the very first scene, and it’s such a deep and integral one I have to go back, rip out three-quarters of what I did yesterday, and rework it.

Of course, I’ll probably find out after reworking that said heroine won’t talk unless I have it the way it was originally written, which means I’ll need to throw out most of what I planned for the book itself and restructure from the ground up simply because a single character simply won’t cooperate.

I am not quite complaining about this, mind you. Realizing a mistake earlier rather than later is a gift. Plus, it’s far better than being so stressed the words refuse to come out at all, which has only happened two-three times in my entire life and is so awful I never, ever, ever want to endure it again. I’m trying to find the funny side–I’m arguing with the voices inside my head while my entire career is telling lies (which, let it be noted, manage to show a certain truth if I’ve done my job right) for a living.

Put that way, it is indeed kind of funny. So is the prospect of each individual errand I have to run today. They’re all hilarious if I look at them the right way.

Gods grant me the strength to hold up each one and turn it to the light in order to catch that funny side, however small and bleak. No doubt I’ll feel much better after a morning run, too. Yesterday was my first day back on the pavement in about a week (what with holidays, disasters, and Bad Weather making it Literally Unsafe To Step Outside) and the endorphin hit was most welcome, indeed. Plus it’s been over two weeks since our booster shots, so every single person in the house is as protected as possible.

There’s going to be something funny in all this. There has to be, and by every god that ever was, I will find it. If I must go down nibbled to death by a tidal wave of papercuts, I will go down laughing. Sure, it might be screamy breathless merriment, but merriment nonetheless.

Laughter is one of the 100% reliable ways to banish demons, after all. And now it’s time to finish this coffee, get the caffeine worked into my muscles, and walk the dogs, who could not care less about the rest of the world as long as they get their kibble, snuggles, and other assorted daily rituals.

If you hear a faint, screeching laugh upon the wind, beloveds, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Let the Tuesday games begin.

Year Three Begins

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The sound of shatter.

It’s a brand new year!

The dishwasher has stopped working, there’s a leak under the kitchen sink, and the tire pressure sensor light is on, but it’s a new year. Amazon has decided to start penalizing authors because e-thieves are pirating their books, but it’s a new year. The CDC has decided to sacrifice lives for the economy as if they’re Republicans, losing what little moral and scientific authority they had left, but it’s a new year.

December 25th rolled around with a new item here at the Chez. The Princess picked up some cheap crockery at the dollar store, and we began the day by shattering a plate apiece, by either deceleration or hammer, on the back walk. The kids are enchanted with this, and can’t wait to do it again next year.

Why would we do such a thing? Well, holidays are…problematic, for me. Every single “holiday” I endured growing up was a nightmare of mounting pressure until the inevitable raging explosion from one of my adult caretakers. At that point, the worst had happened and all I could do was endure.

There’s a certain relaxation in, “it’s happened, all I have to do now is hunker down.” So this year, as the pressure and tension of anticipating the worst on a “holiday” mounted, I decided to do something about it. And lo, it worked.

The sound of breakage triggered the release valve, and the rest of the day was actually pretty nice. It’s the first time I’ve enjoyed Christmas in decades, frankly, and the kids were absolutely thrilled. Everyone got a plate to break, we all pitched in with the cleanup, and then there were good things to eat and a cosy blaze in the fireplace all day. The kids are bound and determined to do the same thing next year, if the pandemic doesn’t end up getting us after all.

…yeah, you can tell even my agathism is taking a beating. We’re in Year 3 of the Pandemic, after all. If one goes historically, this is the year things will get sorted (the Spanish Flu basically took three, I’m going to cover my ears and scream if anyone says, “but the Black Plague…”), at least on the epidemiological front.

I also received some…let’s call it “news”, on Boxing Day. Not unexpected, and I was prepared and braced, but it was still deeply uncomfortable and called up a lot of complex feelings. I’m not surprised things started to go haywire just afterward.

So here we are in 2022. May this year be better than the last, however incrementally. I’ve got a load of work this morning, including making bloody phone calls to get the leak under the kitchen sink sorted and the car’s tires checked. Of course everyone will be doing everything they put off last week because of the holiday, so nothing will get done in a timely manner, but that’s to be expected under current conditions.

There’s nothing to do but keep going. I sent off yet another book–the second Ghost Squad novel, Klemp’s book–last week too, very early but that’s better than late. Now I can turn my entire engines to Hell’s Acre, and also spend some time on the second Sons of Ymre book. I intend to work until it becomes an impossibility; it seems the only way through.

Welcome to the New Year, my beloveds. If all else fails, try breaking a cheap plate or two. It worked wonders for us, I’ve gotta admit.

Excelsior, and all that.