Winter in Coneflower

Aliens, I tell you.

I did no cooking yesterday (US Thanksgiving). Instead, the kids and I got take-n-bake pizzas on Wednesday, left ’em in the fridge overnight, and had an easy, early-ish dinner with no stress. It was lovely; it’s an entirely different holiday when I don’t have to cook. More like an occasion than a holiday proper, as the Prince pointed out.

The whole thing was pretty fabulous. There are better years and worse years for holiday stress, and this is shaping up to be…well, not one of the better ones. But being able to keep it extremely low-key was great, eleven out of ten, no notes, highly recommended.

Even morning walkies were also reasonably quiet, and I got to snap a picture of coneflowers going into winter. I’m sure something eats their alien seedheads, or hides in them somehow. It struck me, while attempting to line up the camera (I know it’s still blurry, Boxnoggin did not want to slow down), just how alien they look. Like the succulents flowering at the end of summer.

I enjoy watching life change as the seasons slip by. Biology is a helluva trip.

I even got a run in, so I was holding steady at thirty percent zen for the rest of the day. We’ll probably even get rain, which will make the weekend a delight. Not sure if I’m going to livestream today, though. I might take a week off even though I do desperately want to talk about Emer Martin’s Breakfast in Babylon.

Suppose I’d best get out the door with Boxnoggin before it gets too damp. His paws are so dainty.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves, please–and with each other. Who knows, by Monday the world might have changed again!

…sorry. I know that’s hardly a pleasant thought given the past few years. All the more reason to take a deep breath now.

Over and out.

Week, Story, Pursuit

I have decided I will not leap like a feral wolverine upon the fresh new week. Instead, I will pursue it like a stoat, steady and fixated, until the arbitrary sevenday drops dead of exhaustion and I may feast.

…I may have been watching a lot of Casual Geographic lately, can you tell? In any case, I’m more comfortable as a pursuit predator anyway. I may not be awfully fast (save for when I’m teleporting to save a toddler or a dumbass canine from Bad Decisions) but I am patient, and there’s plenty of endurance lingering in this ol’ wreck.

Anyway, welcome to Monday, everyone. We were at dinner last night and my daughter obliquely referenced Edmund Pevensie’s taunting of the Telmarines. I commented that Edmund being known as “the Just” was as close as CS Lewis could get to admitting he admired the Jesuits, then I laughed like a loon and both kids looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

Which happens rather a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I always wanted to write a story where Aslan was the Big Bad, Jadis the White Witch and Edmund were the heroes, and the other three Pevensies were kind of bumbling impediments except for Susan, who is awesome no matter which way you slice it. And it is my firm headcanon that Susan never forgot Narnia, she just knew her homeworld needed her more. Because let’s face it, Aslan is a complete, humorless, psychopathic, unjust, incredible dick and I wouldn’t want him yanking me around more either.

Any Christian allegories have a difficult time covering up the sheer maliciousness of their sky god, especially in the Old Testament; really, the problem with allegory is that it lays bare a great deal of what one wants to hide as well as the truth one wishes to distill and reveal. I always suspected Lewis wrote ol’ Screwtape more to convince himself than anyone else. Tolkien seems to have viewed Lewis as Treebeard, taking so much of “the long view” as to be paralyzed with indecision; on the other hand, an Ent’s crisis of faith or confidence might not be visible to even an elf walking alongside through shadowed woods.

November was supposed to be the month I wrote the second book of A Particular Series, or at least 50k of it. Alas, it was not meant to be, but at least I think I’ve resurrected the damn thing. It took a lot of work, a lot of dry-heaving over my office wastebasket, forcing my recalcitrant body to the task. Of course my meatsuit is taking revenge at the moment. Apparently I will patiently coax any creature except my own stubborn self. Regardless, today is for stepping back into that world; this trilogy is having a difficult birth. Misunderstood by everyone but its mother, I suppose. I have to have some kind of faith it will all come out right, that it will reach the people who need it.

Sometimes I admire Lewis’s faith. Sometimes I pity his loneliness–always waiting for someone else to rescue one, instead of building a raft of whatever trash is to hand. The problem with the waiting is that the bones of those who waited in vain are silent; it’s only the “saved” we hear from, confirmation bias at its most absolute. I want the skeletons to stand up, to take their murderers and betrayers to account.

These are the things I think about on a Monday morning while my coffee cools. When I finally down the dregs, Boxnoggin will be waiting for me to make breakfast, beside himself with joy at the prospect of crusts and walkies. To him I am the changeless elf, a sorceress who can make light with a flick of her fingers, a goddess who provides kibble, warmth, direction. Makes me wonder if the gods see humans as we view dogs–they don’t make good choices, but they’re loving. Look how I dressed mine up! Oh, ouch, I can’t afford to take this one to the vet…why, oh why, are their lives so short?

I can’t decide if we make stories to escape the confines of the world, or because our world is so impossibly beautiful. Porque no los dos, right? In the end, what matters is the transmutation, the act of creating, the act of love.

So I lope after this week, reserving my strength, following tracks in sand as the wind rises, noting broken branches which speak of my prey’s direction and speed, discerning slight scuffs on bare rock. I hunt this arbitrary division of time, moving through other universes written into being by people long dead, creating my own out of the infinite multiverses lingering in my own bones and breath, the stories lined up around the block waiting for their chance to speak through me.

As I pursue, so am I pursued. That chain is infinite too.

But I’m done with coffee now and Boxnoggin is prancing down the hall. The hunt is afoot, and so I must be as well. See you around, my beloveds.

(But Aslan’s still a dick. I SAID WHAT I SAID.)

In Shadow, Green

Finding a way, again.

A jumble of boulders on one of our usual morning-walkies routes is always good for a thought or two. Boxnoggin agrees, although his “thoughts” are mostly of the let’s pee on it variety. He’d climb the entire damn pile if I let him.

Anyway, if you peer back into the shadows, you’ll see green on the left side. Yes, even in that deep crevice, things are living–not just lichen, but actual plants. As late as October they were dead straw, hiding from the heat; now, after a few good rains, they’re happily growing in semi-darkness.

Makes all my own problems seem smaller, I must confess. It feels like I’m jammed in a dark crack, reaching vainly for any scrap I can grab; thankfully, I have opposable thumbs and can move into sunlight. (Always assuming I don’t hiss and melt under its touch. Heh.) Life is still forcing its way into the crevices, taking advantage of every inch. Hope is not some evanescent, helpless waif–she is a Valkyrie with blood in her mouth, scraped knuckles, double black eyes, and bruises all over, spitting a tooth as she rises once more from the floor.

We’ve reached another Friday. It promises to be a good one, but either way it’ll be the weekend soon. I hope you have a fine one, beloveds.

Necromancer’s Monday

I spent the weekend dragging a dead series out of its grave. Difficult work, involving a lot of squelching and nausea–but what the hell, I’m sometimes a necromancer, it’s all part of the game. At least I’ve done it before, most notably with Steelflower, so it’s not like it’s my first time.

The weather has turned with a vengeance. I can’t believe it was 80F in October, and now we’re edging down to heavy frost, nights lingering near freezing. The garden needs to be put to bed, but it’s a Monday. I’ve other things to occupy me today–like said shambling corpse of a series, resurrected but not entirely rejuvenated. Frankenstein ain’t got nothing on me, my friends.

I spent whatever time I wasn’t heaving over my office wastebasket doing chores, and getting around 2k of the Jolene story written. Three organic mentions of that song means the Universe has decided it’s time and I think I can do it in six scenes. At least that’s the kernel of the story, and I can add more on either side of the high beats if the structure ends up needing it. I don’t know why I’m being attacked by this short when I have a bloody shambling undead fantasy hulk to deal with and I really need to do a revise on the second Sons of Ymre, but if I’m not drowning in work I’m not really happy so…here we are.

I mean, nobody wants to see me with idle hands. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

The light has changed, too. While it was smoke-hazy and way too warm for October, any sunshine had an eerie apocalyptic cast. Not like the bad smokes the previous two years, just enough to make the little atavistic muscle right under one’s occipital ridge tighten. Now the sky has paled and any sunlight is a thinner gold, especially when it falls on frost-laden roofs and the steam rises. The trees are merrily changing their leaves; next will come shedding them entirely. The ones falling so far are dry and spicy instead of wet-sludgy since the rains have given us a moment or two to think about things. I’d prefer rain, of course, but this is acceptable. Especially since the chill generally means I can run without dodging weird men on the sidewalk.

The only downside is that other dog walkers will be out in the clear light, enjoying the lack of humidity. I like that just fine, but Boxnoggin loses his damn head. I often have to pick him up by his harness-handle, scolding him. “This is why nobody wants to play with you…you’re being a big bully…don’t you feel ridiculous now? If you wouldn’t scream you could probably say hello…no, screaming it is! Fine. Scream all you want, it won’t change the outcome.”

Poor fellow. Four-plus years of work have made him much calmer, but the instant he sees another dog (who isn’t Bailey, since she put up with exactly zero nonsense from him) he turns into a screaming toddler. Some part of it is probably resource-guarding, but I think he’s just one of those dogs whose circuits fuse at the slightest provocation. A squirrel, a cat, another dog, and his cranium is the equivalent of an action movie explosion. I have to walk away, grimly not looking while carrying sixty-plus pounds of writhing canine.

There are worse jobs. It’s hilarious, I will never be as excited over anything as this dog is for the hose, a fleeing cat, or another dog friend. Or walkies. Right now he’s got his nose pressed to my ankle and is huffing deeply, on the principle that this once got me off my office chair and moving brekkie-ward, so he’s going to try it every time now just in case.

Monday is full of frost-laden light and the sound of delighted canine snuffling. My marching orders have been given and my sock is a little damp, so I bid you a pleasant adieu, my beloveds.

Broken Giant

Shattered on the shoulder.

I’m late to the Friday photo post, my beloveds. Things are suboptimal right now–a series that was very much books of my heart has been killed, and I am mourning. We’ll see what happens once the dust settles–it may be that I just have to write the damn thing anyway in my copious spare time. (Yeah, go ahead, laugh. But where there’s a will there’s a mothafuggin way, and I am slopping over with willpower.)

Heartache or no, Boxnoggin needs his walkies. We were ambling uphill, and he stopped to sniff this scattering of concrete or rock–can’t tell which, I am no geologist. But I looked at the detritus and thought, even a pebble can bring down a giant.

It’s not quite as catchy as some phrases, but it’s giving me a lot of solace today. Also, the arrangement of stone and stem made me think of trees with stone leaves, and that’s an image going into a book someday, I can tell you.

The weekend is almost here. I’m so weary, friends. And yet as long as I can reach a pebble, I have a chance of bringing down whatever I need to.

It’s gonna have to be enough.

Imperfect Strategy

A clear chilly Tuesday–not quite cold, but getting there–has dawned. I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee, a George Strait song playing inside my head, and decided I had to use Ronnie Milsap to clear things out. Milsap reliably works if I have a country-themed earworm, and has ever since I was a kid.

I don’t even know. I’m wired weird, but we all suspected as much.

Our state does mail-in ballots, and everyone in the house is of voting age and registered. We all went through the paper voter guide last week, went to our different rooms to fill in little boxes, and I took the sealed envelopes to the local ballot box since I don’t trust USPS with deJoy still in charge. (Why has that man not been booted out? Why?) There were pickup trucks parked nearby, and I watched each one carefully, ready to get the fuck out of there if right-wing goons appeared.

It was a sobering experience.

Now we wait–always my very favorite thing! I hate not being able to do anything while danger creeps nearer. I have little to zero hope, of course. Every time I’ve dared to hope over the past six-seven years, I get kicked right in the teeth. I’m done with that.

So, today will be spent trying to keep myself occupied with work. The new cover for Spring’s Arcana, the page proofs–seventy-five of them knocked off yesterday, only 293 to go–and wordcount for the NaNo novel, correspondence, other things to keep my fingers busy and my heart from hurting. It’s an imperfect strategy, since my heart will ache no matter what I find to keep myself busy with, and working will be like swimming against a riptide. Still, I’ve got to try.

The alternative is even grimmer.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my dears. We’re all reeling after years of historical-grade shocks. The wonder is that we’re all still trying to work, sparking and hissing with static, desperately transmitting and receiving despite All This. I think we all deserve a cuppa and a pat on the back, not to mention a nap. And possibly a whole box of cookies.

Que sera, sera, and all that. At least we’ve got each other, and a few stories to tell around whatever small, wan fire we’re clustering for warmth. It’s my job to tell the tales, no matter what else is going on. And it’s also my job to walk Boxnoggin, who could not care less about human politics. He’s got other concerns, and would very much like me to do something about them.

Needs must, when the devil drives–or when the dog needs a ramble. Off I go, my beloveds.

See you around.

Soundtrack Monday: Breaking Into Cars

Human Tales

I’ve been feeling the urge to do a few more Soundtrack Mondays, so here we are.

This week’s jam is the Raveonettes, Breaking Into Cars. It made its way onto the BLUE soundtrack, which was for Wayfarer–my Cinderella retelling. That entire series is full of callbacks to Kieslowski’s Trois Coleurs trilogy, and the music for each book followed suit. Certain tones have certain colors to me, and this particular track has a blue wash in my head.

Ellie, the titular Cinderella, spends most of the book being backed into a corner. She’s trying to plan, to do the right thing, to simply endure until she’s a grownup. It’s a mood I know well, and this particular song plays whenever she decides to maybe bend the rules a bit.

Even the most obedient child can be pushed into outright defiance, especially when they realize the game is rigged. It was difficult for me to engage with the fairytale, and with certain aspects of Ellie’s story…but that’s why we write, I suppose. Or at least, it’s one reason.

Welcome to the week, my beloveds. I hope a little music will help us get to the other side.