Usual June

The coffee is particularly nice this morning. I got the perfect proportion of cream to bitter, and I am sipping it while not watching the world at large shred itself to pieces. Later today there will be gallons of tea while I mark up proof pages, always a fun time. The kids are looking forward to pizza if I spend all day doing that; finishing a zero, looking over CEs, or proof pages mean Mum might not have enough oomph by the end of the day to attempt anything like cooking.

We’re having usual June rains for once, which is grand because of drought. It also means I’m productive, though not in the way one would think–I spent most of yesterday on a trunk novel instead of on three paying projects and proofs. Sometimes one just has to give the Muse what she wants, and apparently she wanted a harpy attack on battlements.

Go figure.


It’s been two weeks, and the dictator is still in power after gassing and shooting peaceful protestors for a photo op. The military is still deciding which damn way to jump and the dictator’s cabal is still stuffing the federal judiciary. The media is deciding not to cover the huge ongoing protests, no doubt for a collage of reasons including the risk to reporters1 and the fact that a few in the ruling class now own most of our media outlets. The violent repression will probably go all but unremarked now, and come November voter suppression and other dirty tricks will put the seal on it.

And don’t even get me started on the pandemic. We’re seeing the result of Memorial Day’s “whining for a haircut” gatherings, and it’s just as anyone with any sense feared.

The body count is entirely to be expected with regressives and a criminal cabal made up of malignant narcissists and sociopaths in power. This is the system functioning as designed. It’s not a breakdown, it is the logical endpoint. In short, as many (including yours truly) broke our lungs and throats screaming in warning for decades, this was their game all along.


As usual, though, there’s the dogs to walk and a run to get in, laundry to fold, work to accomplish, voices to boost. The dogs were quite active early this morning, despite the fact that my alarm had not yet rung; maybe it was the rain overnight. Anyway, Boxnoggin was determined to crawl under my covers–probably because he thought the roof wouldn’t shield him from falling water–and Miss B, having decided she was up and wanted attention, was on my other side doing her level best to keep me from seeking solace in unconsciousness when she desired ear-skritches, dammit.

Boxnoggin will hate the morning’s walk, because his precious wee paws will get wet. You’d think he’d be more of a wash-and-wear bruiser, this dog, but instead he’s Nervous and Delicate. Miss B is the smarter and more dangerous of the two, but nobody seems to think so. They see the shape of Boxnoggin’s head and freak out, thinking “pit bull” instead of “oh hey, boxer-terrier mix, that’s no nanny dog.”2 I can’t count the number of people who have said “aren’t you scared?” while looking at him.

The dog can barely find his own paws; the only thing I’m concerned about is him tripping and hurting himself, frankly. But I just smile, because if they’re afraid of my big black doofus, it means I’m safer. Especially since most of the people who cast longing gazes upon him are the middle-aged white men who selfishly want me to stop going about my business to service their random emotional needs, and tend to get aggressive and violent if ignored. *eyeroll*

Meanwhile, I have to keep a sharp eye on Miss B if I’m accosted, because she is done with any bullshit at all and will lunge to nip if someone decides to intrude on my personal space. It’s the cranky old lady one has to watch out for, not the gangly youth in his black coat.

Much time has passed while typing this, mostly because Boxnoggin has been very insistent that he needs tummy rubs and needs them now, thank you, what on earth do you mean Mum might want to tie her shoes or finish a piece of writing first? Clearly my priorities must be readjusted. And of course I should probably take down the rest of this coffee if I expect to have anything resembling clarity of thought for the rest of the day.

Meh, maybe clarity’s overrated. I suppose I could just stagger along without it, the gods know seeing some things clearly has given me nothing but an incipient ulcer and trouble sleeping.

Happy Tuesday, dear Readers. I hope it’s less like Monday, although so far 2020 has seemed a year of bad Mondays.

Over and out.

Simple Creatures

It was a long weekend, but not a bad one. I felt quite guilty about taking time off, as usual. Still, I’m rested and relatively renewed, so at least there’s that. And I’m going to need it, there’s proof pages on the boil, not to mention daily wordcount to get in.

The dogs even got bacon grease in their breakfast, so their weekend is counted an unqualified win. And school is officially out, not just “work at home because pandemic,” so the Little Prince is quite happy; nobody will be bothering him to get his work done before faffing about.

Me? I’m fighting off the temptation to check social media before noon. If the world is on fire, it’ll burn just as well without me. I can’t work when I’m half sick with dread–though it’s never just half sick nowadays, is it.

The thing I can’t get over is how normal life goes on while I watch history happening. It never hit me this hard when I was younger–I remember seeing grainy television images of the Challenger disaster, of the Wall coming down, and the like, but since I had very little sense of history then, I knew only that it was important to watch and not look away. Being able to put what one’s seeing in some kind of context is terrifying.

Not that I wish I couldn’t–I’d rather know the context than be oblivious, I suppose. Regardless, I can wait until noon to induce more stress nausea. It’s not like it’s going anywhere.

All that being said, I’d love to be able to play with something just for me today–once the work is done. Maybe I’ll just do proof pages and reserve the evening for a trunk novel. I’ve been wanting to try something new lately, I might dig in the compost heap and drag a few old bits out, see what cross-pollinates.

As usual, there are the dogs to walk and a run to get in. Life doesn’t stop while the empire crumbles; it goes along, minute by minute, as if it can’t tell. I do notice the media seems to be ignoring the fact that the protests are still ongoing, which is… interesting, isn’t it. Certainly lets you know which side the bread is buttered on.

…there, that’s all I’m allowed to cogitate on the state of the world until I’ve finished coffee and had a run, in that order, with a slight break in the middle to walk these very excited canines. The bacon grease has filled them with optimism, hope, and quite a lot of energy. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be so easily pleased, then I take a look at my tea collection or the loaded bookshelves crammed in every corner of my house that can possibly hold such things.

I suppose I’m a simple creature in my own right. I wish the thought was as comforting as it could be.

Happy Monday, my friends. May we all have a little peace today.

Rock Possibilities

I saw this little fellow again while on walkies with Very Excited Dogs yesterday. The painted rocks move around the neighborhood in odd patterns; I half suspect someone knows I’m keeping an eye on them and moves them just to say hello. Or, you know, the rocks are moving of their own accord.

Of course the real reason is that the people who paint them are trading them, and people who like them are moving them around like goods in an economy. But I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t consider the other possibilities.

And, of course, there’s the fact that this particular stone seems to be following me. While I’m not sure about the “stay positive” message–unfounded optimism tends to give me the hives, not to mention the willies–I can get behind the “laugh” bit.

I’m waiting for everything to reach the pitch of absurdity that makes me break down in helpless laughter. That’s generally when I know I’m going to be all right. It’s taking a while, though–there’s nothing laughable about current national events, and indeed there rarely is. Rather, I start laughing at the absurdity of my own personal life.

Sooner or later I’ll get there, I’ll hear that peculiar internal snap, and the giggles will flood free. It’ll feel like lancing a boil, a painful relief, and I’ll know I’m going to be okay.

It might even be the next time I see this damn painted rock, so I suppose I’d best get out the door with the dogs soon. Whoever daubed it knew what they were doing.

And, since this is a Friday, I’m curious. Do you get the giggles when you snap too, dear Reader? What happens when you reach the end of your rope and fetch up against the knot? When do you know you’re going to be okay again? Tell me.

I’m all ears. And, apparently, amusement.

The Agony of Hope

It’s another lovely grey morning; the garden is settling to its work wonderfully. The dogs have been fed, though Boxnoggin has turned his nose up at the offering. When he first arrived, dry kibble–let alone mixed with wet food–was pure manna from heaven to be scarfed as soon as possible. Now, after a few years of regular twice-daily feedings, not to mention treats, he is possessed of an epicure’s disdain.

I don’t mind. He’s sleek and glossy, obviously in no nutritional distress, and if he feels secure enough to leave his bowl lonely every few days it’s a sign that he knows more is always available. I consider his snooty little sideways this is inadequate, Mother glance a victory.

Another victory? He’s taken to occasionally sleeping on his back, all four paws in the air, propped against me or handy pillows on the bed at night. Miss B, of course, has her traditional place on the bed, and hops down a few times nightly to sprawl on the coolness of the loo’s tile floor. But Boxnoggin chooses a spot and stays there all night, occasionally shifting in place to expose his belly to the breeze. It’s especially fun when he begins dreaming.


The protests continue. The work of boosting other voices, encouraging anyone who listens to my rambling to do so, and of listening continues. Hope is creeping into my soul, though I am trying to bar the door. I can’t take the agony if it proves vain.

And honestly, I think it will prove vain, between the overwhelming violence regressives will unleash, the exhaustion of those on the streets who are at great risk of being felled by pandemic if they aren’t brutalized into silence by militarized police, and the complicity of Democrat power-brokers who think a few “reforms” will silence the howling and consider Republicans their coworkers and coevals owed more consideration than their constituents.

I’d say “vote them out” but who honestly thinks we’re going to have a free, fair election in November? If you do, I admire your optimism but see absolutely no grounds for it.

Last night I told the Princess, “It has always been like this. The difference is nowadays we have the cell phone videos to lift the rock and see what’s squirming underneath.” Sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant, showing the reality of the racist police state, and the mass unemployment caused in no small part by an absolutely criminally fumbled response to a global pandemic is a factor that may well prove decisive–the shitty jobs available to most of us, leaving us too tired, isolated, and afraid to protest or organize, no longer exist; so there’s time, energy, and the burning need to be in the streets.

I see America trembling upon a knife-edge, not between revolution and the status quo, but between vast violent repression by the dictator still squatting in the White House (remember on June 1 when he attempted to declare martial law? The military still hasn’t decided which side it’s on, and I keep highlighting this because it’s important) and co-optation of the protests by a few pseudo-liberal careerists who think a sop or two will return things to “normal.” You can see the latter in the mealy-mouth utterances of people who fancy themselves Serious and Bipartisan, tsk-tsking at the demand to defund the police.

“You should say reform instead,” they bleat.

“Reform” isn’t quite a dirty word yet, but when it’s used after every explosion of quite understandable anger by the people on whose scarred, bleeding backs America is built to give the illusion of progress that’s promptly forgotten once everyone is back at their shitty jobs full of wage theft, it’s understandably fast becoming so.


I must write these stories, or we don’t eat. If the economy collapses further, or if the dictator and his cabal win, it won’t matter. In the first place, I’ll be so busy trying to keep us fed and housed I won’t have time to think; in the second, they’ll come for me sooner or later. Privilege will insulate me, but only to a point.

In the meantime, I have to survive, keep my kids fed, keep the dogs in kibble. Focusing enough to work with that uncertainty hanging overhead is a terrifying daily effort. I can barely imagine–or maybe I can’t imagine at all–what it’s like for those with less luck and privilege than my own sweet self.

Oh, hope creeps in when I least expect it, when I hug one of my children or when Boxnoggin is asleep, trusting and belly-exposed, on my blankets. Who am I kidding? Dum spiro, spero, and all that. Hope is part of the human condition. It is unbearable, yet it must be borne. Just like life itself.

I don’t want to hope. I’m tired and I want to be unsurprised, I want to never again feel that sick thump of disappointment and fear when a disaster I saw coming (and my shouted warnings of were ignored) finally arrives.

The garden–and the dogs–have no idea of our precarious situation. The dogs only know Mum’s upset, of course, and they try to soothe.

I try to let them. And I don’t want to hope, but I suppose I must try to. As Toki says in Princess Mononoke, “We’re not dead yet, Kuroku, we’ll manage somehow.”

Gods grant it be so.

History, Reverberate

I didn’t feel fully awake until about 3km into this morning’s run. Now I’m not entirely awake, but close enough. I could do with a spot more tea, but that will have to wait until after I’m done writing this.

The last Haggard Feathers post goes up tomorrow. I’m sad to bring the experiment to an end, but on the other hand, it will be a relief to stop the time drain so I have some internal resources to deal with the ongoing flood of bad news.

It’s Memorial Day. I spent yesterday afternoon reading Osinga on John Boyd, and once I finished that I moved to Orlando Figes on the Crimean War. I haven’t read about the latter except in fiction; the first time I can remember hearing that particular conflict referred to was a short story featuring Florence Nightingale, which I read when I was about twelve, I think? Or maybe a little younger.

The more I study history, the more I think humans don’t ever really learn. Things just… reverberate. One can trace a certain strain of European conflict from the Roman Empire to the Crimean to World War I to World War II and up to the present day; it’s sobering to sit with the fact that people are killing each other over thousand-year-old grudges. Genocide and war don’t ever really stop, they just mutate, particularly virulent species going quasi-dormant and waiting for the next instance of fortuitous conditions.

It makes me wonder if we’d get further treating violence as a virus.

Anyway, I am not particularly cheerful this morning, though I suspect a cuppa will fix that. I have far too much work to let myself sit in the doldrums for long, thankfully. And a touch more caffeine might make my fingers stop stuttering on the keyboard. It’s taken a ridiculous amount of time just to type these few paragraphs, having to stop for typos and errors every few words. Some days are just like that.

At least it’s raining, the dogs have been walks, and I have some lovely piano music on tap. I’m definitely not in the mood for lyrics today. I woke up with Satie’s Je te veux in my head this morning, which I used to play along with ACDC to get Graves from Strange Angels to start talking.

He was an interesting fellow. And now it’s time for me to make that cuppa.

Over and out.

Firework, in Sleeping Dark

The blood lily my writing parter gave me has resurrected once again. First as a tiny little green nubbin, but now it’s a firework stretching for the window. Each year I wonder if it’ll come back, and each year it comes through like an utter allium boss.

It gives me hope, especially since I feel like I’m clawing up out of ashes lately myself. Makes me wonder if it hurts plants to grow, even if that growth happens in the sleeping dark. Gods know most of my own growth is painful–but then again, would I notice it, if it wasn’t?

It’s been a difficult week. Not as bad as some others lately, but still… difficult. I just keep breathing and moving, hopefully forward. Eventually endurance pays off–I know this, and yet each time I doubt.

May we all rise, may we all find some peace, and may we get to where we’re going even through the doubt.

Have a lovely weekend, chickadees.

Adjustment and Loyalty

It’s Tuesday, which means a writing post over at Haggard Feathers for my lovely paid subscribers. (Free subscribers get one a month, paid get one a week.) So far the experiment is going well, but if it doesn’t hit a few targets in the next couple months I’ll be shutting it down. There’s no reason to stay with something that isn’t serving, really.

At least the pandemic has taught me that. To be fair, it’s a lesson I learn every few years. I am ridiculously loyal, well past the point of pain, but I’m learning to be far more selective about what and who I’m loyal to.

When you can’t change something about your own personality, you learn to get sneaky.

In any case, I’m no longer feeling quite so at sea. My office is cleaner than it’s been since we moved into the chez, and all the open space gave me a weird sense of decompression for a few days. Now it’s natural, and the dogs enjoy the acres of floor. Of course they don’t settle on their (expensive microfiber and memory foam) beds–no, that would be too simple. Instead, they wrestle (at high energy and volume) on the bare carpet and end up flinging themselves down back to back and snoring (again at high volume) at various times during the day.

I’m glad they’re happy, even if my ears are ringing.

Now I’m just waiting for the end of shelter-in-place, so I have a chance to take the books purged from the my shelves and move them to where they can find new homes. That alone might be a six-month project once quarantine lifts, but small increments are how I get anything done, apparently, so it’s no great burden. I’m also looking forward to going to the library again, whenever that happens.

The world has changed. So have we. It’s alternately comforting and terrifying to be settled into that change now, and mostly adjusted to the new “normal.” The Princess and I were talking yesterday; I mentioned the last great economic crisis and she cocked her head, looking thoughtful.

“That makes two I can remember in my lifetime,” she said.

“And you’re so young,” I added, at which point she made a face at me.

I’m feeling like we might survive, but I grieve for those who haven’t–and those who won’t. It didn’t have to be like this. I hope we all remember that, every single one of us.

…well, I meant to be more cheerful this morning, but apparently that’s not going to happen. I suppose I should get the dogs out the door for morning walkies. Maybe my mood will improve.

I wish you a pleasant Tuesday, dear Reader, and well-placed loyalties.