Only Tuesday

My eyes are watering furiously. It’s probably leftover from the fry bread experiment last night–I found a recipe and went all in. I’m thinking I want to do it in shortening instead of canola oil next time, and further thinking I want to work a little something into the dough to make it a teensy bit less stiff. Not a lot, because that’s how you get the pockets, but a little bit.

The Princess, not to be outdone, went to work on this marshmallow recipe after dinner. So, this morning there’s the smell of frying and a whole pan of springy, fluffy marshmallows. I’m not sure what it means, other than the fact that the Princess is coming into her own as a candy maker. She’s going to Willy Wonka the world, I can just tell.

She never used to like working with meat or high-temperature sugar cooking, but flour is a gateway drug and now she’s in it to win it. I’m surprised she isn’t chocolate-dipping the marshmallows. Half of them are going to go to a friend’s house, which is good, and if there are any left on Sunday I’ll be having a giant mug of hot chocolate STUFFED with homemade mallows.

All in all, things are pretty quiet here despite my deepening cough and the dogs’ insistence that running around screaming constitutes exercise. I could take them for a run, but I’m not sure my ankle would hold up. On the other hand, Sir Boxnoggin will be getting a bath today, and that will tire him out more than any amount of running and yapping.

I’m on my second jolt of coffee and thinking about another scene between Friar Tuck and Prince John today. I’m also hoping that when I go back to HOOD yesterday’s efforts will not be in vain. I mean, I’ll probably have to throw out half of it, but that’s better than having to throw out the whole thing, right?

Right?

Anyway, that’s the news that’s fit to print. This upcoming weekend is for more Lightning Bound (I kind of want to do a big banquet scene again) and for a hot date with Caesar’s Gallic War, because my Latin is rusting and I need to get back with it. Unfortunately it’s only Tuesday, so Latin, the witch and the storm god, and homemade marshmallows have to wait.

It’ll just make the indulgence sweeter when I get to it. Or so adulthood tells me.

I hope that’s not a lie. Over and out.

Super Chonk Squirl

Super Chonk Squirl

No, that's not a teensy-tiny bird feeder to the right. That's a bird feeder out in the middle of the yard behind the fir, and a VERY ROUND squirrel who cannot fit between the vertical supports on the deck railing.

SUPER. CHONK. SQUIRL.

Not pictured: Sir Boxnoggin, who was vibrating with the need to get through the glass French door and after said almost-spherical snack…

Advent Veronica

Me, before Yule: Oh, it’s a present from Skyla! Awesome!
Package: *rustles ominously*
Me:

Me, texting Skyla: “THIS IS AMAZING. But…a Barbie?”
Skyla, texting back: “HELL YEAH. Barbie doesn’t revolve around maternity and childcare, and she was created by a woman. Everyone needs a Barbie!”
Me: “That’s fair. But, uh, is she supposed to be talking?”
Skyla: “…”
Me: “She says her name’s Veronica?”
Skyla: “SHE WAS NOT POSSESSED WHEN I WRAPPED HER, LILI.”

Veronica: THANK YOU. THAT WAS A LITTLE AWKWARD.
Me: I hesitate to ask, but–
Veronica: MY SISTER MIRANDA SENT WORD AND NOW I HAVE ARRIVED.
Me: That’s very nice of her, but–
Veronica: YOU NEED AN OFFICE ORACLE. JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE.
Me: *faintly* I mean to clean for New Year’s.
Veronica: WELL, YOU’RE THE CREATIVE TYPE. ALSO, MIRANDA SAID SOMETHING ABOUT SQUIRRELS?
Me: *looking around wildly* Squirrels? Where?
Veronica: …I SEE. WELL, GET MY HAIR OUT OF THIS PACKAGING AND WE’LL GET TO WORK.

I did clean my office before New Year’s Day, and I have a suspiciously sinking feeling about this…

Getting Through to New Year’s

Tomorrow is Yule proper, the longest night and the celebration of light returning–or at least, the hope of such. Today is the absolute earliest day I will allow Christmas music in the house; however, the Princess and Little Prince rarely want it. It saturates all public spaces; this is, by contrast, our refuge.

The dogs sense my tension. Boxnoggin is determined to fix whatever has my tail tied in a knot; Miss B dimly suspects this has happened before and is more sanguine. Come the morning of the 25th, when the cooking begins, both of them will be excited and anticipatory. I wonder what Boxnoggin’s other Christmases have been like. No doubt he’ll calm down once he’s stuffed full of ham, belly-scrubbings, and treats.

Growing up, this time of year was inevitably one of mounting unease culminating in explosion. I used to try to decide which was worse: several small fires or the menacingly quiet build-up to a terrifying conflagration. On the one hand, the several small rages and punishments kept me in a state of low-level terror until after New Year’s, on the other, the tension leading up to the huge explosion made me sick with anticipation and I eventually feared for my life during the inevitable culmination. Year after year it was a roulette.

The first time I spent a quiet Christmas just by myself was revelatory. Nobody was screaming, breaking plates or my toys; nobody was hissing that I didn’t deserve presents or that I was a selfish child for having been born; the day passed quietly without me sneaking away to hide under my bed or vomit hopelessly behind a locked bathroom door that could still be screwdriver-opened at any moment. I wasn’t dragged out to “participate”, I wasn’t glared at while I opened presents and tried to guess which ones would be taken away after extended family went home and the war I’d never signed up for returned.

It was wonderful.

When my children arrived, their obvious and visible joy in the holiday frightened me. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to live up to their expectations, I worried that they secretly felt as awful as I had during the whole thing and were suffering trying to hide it, I worried that I wasn’t providing enough gifts, enough “traditions”, enough of anything, especially on Christmases where the budget didn’t permit much in the way of presents. It’s kind of funny now–both kids tell me they’ve always loved the holiday and I’ve always made it special for them. They don’t really understand my unease, since it’s always been a time of joy for them, a time to roll around in evidence that their Mum indeed loves them fiercely, completely, utterly.

I still can’t decide which was worse, the ongoing small fires or the huge explosion. The latter generally cleared the air for a while, but the absolute unremitting fear for my life during it seems a high price to pay. On the other hand, the grinding tension of several small pokes, slaps, pinches, nasty comments, glares, tiny humiliations occurring in clusters before a relatively smaller eruption turned me into a big-eyed, quivering wreck, afraid to even breathe deeply.

There’s really nothing to recommend either.

The kids, of course, are oblivious, looking forward to tree-decorating and a glut of good food. Presents? Well, they have everything they want, really, but I was able to afford some small things this year, and it pleases me to think of their joy when the Glorious Morn rolls around.

Among my friends this year, I feel like I’m the strong one. I just want to get everyone through to New Year’s with a minimum of damage. I feel like I’m clinging grimly to a lifeboat’s sides, making sure everyone has their vests secured and rationing our shipboard biscuits while we wait for rescue, comforting who i can and soothing as far as I am able.

Sometimes I long for the brief period in my life where I could let this entire time of year pass without decoration or remark, safely curled up inside my shell. I only participate for others, and some years I wish I didn’t have to.

All the same, participating for the joy of others is exponentially better than the conflagration or the wilderness of small random fires. It’s even quite beautiful in its own way, and I’m happy to bring joy to the people I care for. It gives me a deep satisfaction that helps battle the residual stress, the way Christmas decorations or the collection of holiday smells make my stomach clench with pained panic. I often feel that being incapable of enjoying the damn holiday season detracts from the joy of people I love, and worry that it indeed makes me the selfish brat I was accused since birth of being.

For me, even the best Christmas isn’t as good as a regular day spent working. It’s a gauntlet to run through, something to endure, and I’m always deeply glad when it’s over.

I’m buckled in and buckled down, prepared to see it through. Let’s hope we all reach the New Year with the minimum of damage, my friends.

Over and out.

Playing Wrap-Up

Last night I felt like telling a story, so I told the tale of the Llort and the Fox Princess. I do have another llort tale, but it’s going to have to wait, since it’s a sad instead of an instructive one.

It felt good to get it out of my head, and it was nice to get immediate feedback. Maybe I’ll toss the llort stories into an anthology, if I ever get off my ass about putting one together. I think it would be cool to have a great many of my short stories gathered in one place, and of course I’ve got the rights. The problem is just doing the gathering and formatting. Maybe after I get the Roadtrip Z omnibus sorted out I’ll use a short story anthology as a weekend project.

Anyway, the fourth and final season of Roadtrip Z is now available for preorder and there will be an omnibus. There may even be an omnibus in paper.

The next serial, starting after January 1, is HOOD, and from now until the end of the year I’ll be working ahead on that. So far the plan is for three seasons of Robin Hood in Space, and I have the ending firmly in sight. I generally do; the fun is all in getting there.

i’m also poking at a couple of short stories. The Hansel & Gretel Kung Fu Cannibal story is coming along nicely, and the Alice in WonderlandResident EvilBlade Runner mashup is bubbling in the back of my head, waiting for its time to shine. I need the first line of the latter; once I have that, the rest of the cut will follow.

Short stories are difficult. I have to know the angle of the cut before I even think about putting my hand to the hilt. I’d much rather have a novel’s space to roll around in, but it’s good to do things outside one’s comfort zone. And they’re fun, besides, bite-size pocket universes.

Anyway, it’s a Monday, the dogs want running, and since the world is on fire I might as well work.

Over and out.

“Lucky” Cup

I almost, almost bought this. The only thing that stopped me was the prospect of a squirrel either deciding to pop out of the cup or that said cup would provide a beautiful home for its furry ass.

Still…it's just the right size to fit in the espresso maker.

I'm still tempted…

Safe Now

I just finished a monstrous revision, and my head is not quite my own at the moment. Regular blogging will resume shortly; in the meantime, here, have a picture of the business end (not the biggest end, alas) of a Very Large Branch that fell out of treetops less than a foot away from me and the dogs while we were engaged upon windy-day walkies.

Both of them sensed a threat and were primed for attack, but once it became clear the branch was no longer moving Sir Boxnoggin had to sidle up and pee on it. Miss B, of course, only wanted to sniff to verify it was dead and could no longer cause mischief.

I'm going to go try and get my head to stop spinning. Enjoy your weekend, my dears.