Alarm, Buffet

I put my alarm clock across the room on my dresser, so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Both the kids have used this strategy with much success, but it wasn’t necessary for my silly self until this past winter. Even the sunrise function, where the attached lamp starts glowing a half-hour before the alarm and ramps up to simulate dawn, wasn’t helping. I would roll over, turn the damn thing off when it began to glow, and roll back, all without waking. Miss B loved it, because I would also somnolently scratch behind her ears for a little bit before passing out again.

She also hated it, because I wouldn’t get up, even when she put her nose in my face. There’s nothing like feeling whiskers tickle your lip and opening your eyes to see a carnivore’s big sad eyes–and sharp pointy teeth.

Odd, of course, didn’t mind, since it meant his early-morning nap blurred into his mid-morning nap. The only thing he did mind was brekkie being a bit late, but since brekkie happens after he gets up, gets his morning song, and unloads, world without end, amen, that wasn’t a huge problem.

Odd remembers the one and only time he missed breakfast at our house. That was back when he went to the vet as a pup, got an umbilical hernia fixed–and got neutered, too, all in one go. You don’t want to do surgery on bulldogs if you can avoid it, since their airways are already so compromised sedation becomes a hazard. Odd didn’t mind the crate-ride there, and didn’t mind coming home minus a few bits–he was already too roly-poly and corkscrewed to be able to reach his stitches, so he didn’t need a Cone of Shame. What he did mind, and complained LOUDLY about, was the lack of breakfast that one notable morning.

Dogs are mostly Zen creatures of the Now, but he remembers the one day brekkie was not delivered. Miss B, of course, shrugs and yips at him when he starts grousing about it. “BEFORE I CAME HERE, BREAKFAST WAS NEVER CERTAIN,” she informs him, and Odd, aghast, begins running in circles and barking loudly, as if this is a prospect.

“You’re just making it worse,” I tell B, and she looks at me with a certain gleam in her eye.

“HE’S GETTING EXERCISE,” she says, and I rub behind her ears.

Yesterday, since we went on a run, she was reasonably mellow. Which made that afternoon’s Squirrel Antics somewhat easier to handle–the little bastards have awakened after the cold snap, and are digging in the garden to see if I’ve put any more peas down there. (I haven’t. Yet.) Of course, the Mad Tortie sees them, and while they are not birds, she still yearns to nab a specimen. (Despite, I might add, a squirrel being roughly her size if you take off her tail and poufy fur.) It’s one of her great unfulfilled desires, like constant catnip and a door she can lie across the threshold of, neither inside nor out. The damn squirrels, including the new queen of the backyard heap (and Lord, she is a story unto herself) think the garden boxes are a buffet; the Mad Tortie thinks the squirrels are a buffet, Miss B longs to herd them all up, and Odd Trundles knows very well Mum gets mad if you go digging in the boxes but the prospect of New Friends drives what little sense he lays claim to straight out of his capacious, rock-hard noggin.

But that’s another blog post, since I’m nursing three separate burns in three separate places only left hand from the red sauce yesterday. That didn’t happen during the squirrel hijinks, mind you. It was just an added fillip to a very strange day that ended with yet another hilarious scene in the nutless kangaroo shifter story. (Its working title is Scrotum Search, because I can’t help myself, but it will probably be Jozzie & Sugar Belle if I decide to do it as a serial.)

Since I’m up and have taken down a tankard of tea, I might as well go for a run. Maybe today I’ll tire Miss B out enough that she won’t want to herd everything in the newly-unsnowed yard.

I’m not holding my breath.

Refill Time

It started on Friday, a marvelous late-morning coffee session with Curtis Chen (read his Kangaroo books, they are AWESOME); then I went home and pushed to get the rest of Sparked finished and sent off to the agent. (That’s the YA she wanted me to write, the one I found out needed another character arc jammed into its structure.) Both good things, but together they turned me into a quivering mass of nerves. Then, Saturday rolled around, and while I was twitching a friend texted, “YOU HAVE THE DAY OFF. COME PLAY.”

So we went…out. There was even window-shopping clothes, which was oddly soothing. Socializing for hours kept my brain busy so the usual post-book eating-itself was relegated to a thin, exhausting background mutter. Then Sunday came around, full of household chores and turning the earth in the most southerly garden boxes. We may still get a cold snap, but I planted hardy things like Alaska peas and fava beans. Hopefully I got enough of them in the ground that the squirrels and their buffet habits won’t wipe out the entire crop before it can sprout.

All of that was good, but I ached all over by evening, and spent a restless night with blisters and a headache. Now it’s Monday…and all I want to do is sit and stare. The massive flywheel of Finishing A Book has wound down, but I’m hollowed out, scraped dry, and need a chance to refill.

I have a slightly longer run today, but still within Miss B’s range. She’ll enjoy the chance to get out and work–she spent yesterday’s gardening time chasing squirrels, digging in her approved spots–I’m glad I bought a house so I don’t have to worry when she digs–and attempting to help me plant favas and radishes. Her attempts to help are mostly “Mum, you dropped this and it got covered with dirt, but I found it for you! I are good dog!”

Meanwhile, Odd wanted to stay inside, since his nails got clipped and he got his long walk of the week, which meant he was exhausted by all the activity. Not too exhausted, though, to moan-mumble at me when I came back inside, piqued that I had dared to do things without his supervision. Had it been a wee bit warmer, he would have wished to sunbathe in one of his Particular Spots, but I’m kind of glad he was achieving a liquid state inside. There was enough squirrel action that Miss B threw clods of dirt everywhere. Thankfully, she didn’t run head-on into any trees, but it was a close call. I believe the furry arboreal menaces were enjoying the game. At least they didn’t bomb me with pinecones, though I’m sure they marked each spot I planted something with extreme interest.

…I had another post planned, about infrastructure, ubiquity, and privilege, but I’m far too snarky today. I have very little patience left, and my give-a-fuck-o-meter is pretty well busted. My forties are gonna be the decade of rolling my eyes and deciding not to sugar-coat, I guess. A couple times lately I’ve had spoons and time enough to call a few people in my mentions on bullshit instead of just muting and moving on, and visibly doing so feels like a Good Deed. It’s no substitute for direct action in other ways, but an addendum.

Anyway, I have crossed the Sparked revise off my master to-do list. Up next is prepping Roadtrip Z‘s Season Three for release when the serial reaches that point and working ahead on the fourth and final season, not to mention giving Harmony a hard revise. It’s about time for a new master list as well, since I’ve crossed off five of the eight things on the current one.

But first, a run–and I’m going ahead with my Lovecraft re-read. I might spend the entire day curled up on the couch reading about Cthulhu with gallons of hot tea. It’s not quite a vacation…but close enough for me.

Over and out.

Uh, whoops…

Yeah, so, yesterday I changed a single tag on some SquirrelTerror posts and WordPress decided to vomit them ALL up as new posts, everywhere. Sorry about that. :/ (I am told Mercury is retrograde, so that’s what I’m blaming.)

Yesterday I could barely settle to a damn thing until around 3pm, when I’d achieved enough caffeine to impersonate a satellite launch. Fortunately, after that things were much easier; Beast of Wonder, Pocalypse Road, and Combine’s Shadow all lined up for work and were attended to in order. I think spending most of the day on Mastodon instead of Twitter improved my productivity tenfold. Twitter is a garbage fire of harassment, even though I have a truly robust block list. The effort of swimming through that toxicity is gargantuan; still, though, I have to retain a presence there because I’m a mid-list author. Having to hold one’s nose and do something is full adulthood, my friends.

So today: wordcount, revisions, Latin, Greek, piano practice. A full docket, and I have to get out the door for some speed work. I’m not sure I’ll take Miss B–she’s not fond of intervals. They probably interfere too much with her trying-to-kill-me rhythm.

So, I’m sorry about yesterday’s email blizzard, blog subscribers. Next time I change a tag…well, maybe I just won’t, because oh my God who needs that kind of hassle? Forgive me.

*zooms away into the sunshine*

Looking for Love

Me: I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Louis: YOU’RE A REAL PAL. OKAY, SO IS THIS A GOOD POSE?
Me: I guess?
Louis: YOU’RE NOT HELPING.
Me: Look, the last time I saw you, you were shooting at everyone.
Louis: I SAID I WAS SORRY.

Louis: SO OKAY, IT SHOULD GO, SINGLE MALE LOOKING FOR FRIENDS.
Me: Friends?
Louis: YEAH, WELL, IT’S GOTTA START THERE, RIGHT? LIKES: LONG WALKS, NATURE, COLD BEER. SHOULD I PUT DISLIKES?
Me: I’m not sure there’s space.
Louis: GOOD POINT. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. DID YOU GET MY GOOD SIDE? DO I LOOK RELAXED?
Me: …you look fine.

Louis: OKAY, SO HOBBIES. LET’S SEE.
Me: Well, what do you like to do?
Louis: KILL ZOMBIES.
Me: …other than that.
Louis: DRINK BEER.
Me: How about reading? Do you like to read?
Louis: WEAPONS MANUALS.
Me: *trying to keep a straight face* Cooking? Do you like to cook?
Louis: I CAN ROAST A SQUIRREL.
Me:

Yeah, poor Louis is looking for love. I’m not sure online dating is for him, but he’s insistent, and since he’s going to be living in the backyard with the rest of the crew, I might as well try to be helpful.

Meeting Louis Darrul

Miranda was right, as usual. It wasn’t raining the next morning, though the forecast said thunderstorms later. So I bopped out, holding a mug of scalding coffee. I rather suspected I’d need the caffeine; and it’s handy as a weapon if the mug is big enough–or the coffee hot enough. I reasoned a crossbow firing toothpicks wasn’t likely to be out of coffee-flinging reach, either.

What? Yes, I do occasionally reason, my friends. Not often enough, to hear my exes talk, but hey, there’s a reason they’re ex.

Miranda: HELLO, DEAR.
Me: Good morning, Miranda. How are you?

(She, like me, prefers a little formality.)

Miranda: RATHER SHORT ON SLEEP. WE STAYED UP LATE, TALKING. BUT I’VE CONVINCED LOUIS TO MEET YOU, AT LEAST. HE IS…SOMEWHAT SHY.
Me: Im sure his habit of shooting at people doesn’t help.
Louis: THEY AIN’T PEOPLE, MA’AM.

Me: JESUS CHRIST.
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DEAR.
Louis: FUCK!
Miranda: *rather loudly* LANGUAGE!
Me: What the hell are you?
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DAMMIT!
Me: *shifting backward on my haunches, lifting my mug* Yeah, yeah, language. I repeat, who the hell are you, dude?
Louis: *eyeing my coffee mug warily* LOUIS DARRUL AT YER SERVICE, MA’AM.
Me: You’ve been shooting at my backyard residents?
Louis: FRIEND OF YOURS SENT ME.
Me: *bracing self, with a sinking sensation* Oh yeah? Who?
Louis: A MISS MEL. I WAS…WELL, HER CHICKENS ARE KIND OF…LOOK, I DIDN’T KNOW SHE KEPT THEM FOR EGGS, ALL RIGHT?
Me: *digging for my phone* Oh, hell no.
Miranda: IF YOU TWO ARE GOING TO USE IMPROPER LANGUAGE, TAKE YOUR CONVERSATION ELSEWHERE.
Me: *texting furiously* Miranda, you are the backyard oracle, and due respect, but for right now, my friend, shut up.
Louis: DON’T TALK TO HER LIKE THAT.
Me: I will settle your hash in a minute, Mr Darrul. Be quiet.

Now I shall present to you, my friends, an excerpt from the text conversation with my lovely, wonderful, mischievous writing partner, the Selkie.

Me: WHAT. THE FUCK. MEL.
The Selkie: What?
Me: You sent me a hillbilly with a crossbow?
The Selkie: Oh, yeah, him. He was irritating my chickens.
Me: FOR GOD’S SAKE.
The Selkie: What? You like zombie hunters.
Me: He thought your chickens were zombies?
The Selkie: It’s a long story. Enjoy.
Me: I swear I will get you for this.
The Selkie: *smiley face*

I stuck my phone back in my hoodie pocket and eyed the fellow. He eyed me right back, and his tiny finger twitched.

Me: Don’t even, dude.
Miranda: HE NEEDS A PLACE TO STAY.
Me: Oh, of course. Of course he does.
Miranda: IT’S NOT HIS FAULT, HIS HOME WAS OVERRUN BY–
Me: Oh, sure. Sure. I’ve got ceramic squirrels, a koala in a corset, a fucking Batman, what’s a psycho with a crossbow? Sure, great, wonderful, welcome to the goddamn backyard, Louis.

I was not very graceful at that point, I guess, but can you blame me? My nerves were somewhat shot. Miranda, thankfully, did not tell me to watch my language. I suspect she knew I would not take the suggestion kindly.

Louis: I WON’T MAKE NO TROUBLE, MA’AM.
Me: You are going to have to stop shooting at Willard. And at Joe.
Louis: WHO? YOU MEAN THE…BUT, MA’AM, THEY’RE UNDEAD.
Me: They are productive citizens of the backyard realm, sir.
Louis: …YOU SURE?

I tipped my head back, my jaw working. I could feel my teeth groaning under the strain.

Miranda: YOU SEE? DESPITE HER TEMPER, SHE IS A VERY GOOD RULER.
Me: I doubt I’m in charge here, Miranda.
Miranda: WELL, NOMINALLY, AT LEAST.
Me: *bringing my chin back down* I suppose I deserved that one.
Miranda: *quietly* YES, YOU DID.
Me: Okay. Fine. Sure, what the hell. If you stop shooting at Willard and Joe, Mr Darrul, you can stay.
Louis: WHAT ABOUT THE SQUIRRELS? THEM’S TASTY, AND A MAN’S GOTTA EAT.
Me: Oh, good Lord.

So I ended up gingerly closing my hand around Louis’s middle, trying to avoid the crossbow–

Louis: CAREFUL, WOMAN. THAT’S MAH KNIFE.
Me: I could hold you by your head.
Louis: *extremely quiet*
Miranda: VERY GOOD, THEN.
Me: Sorry for cussing, Miranda.
Miranda: THAT’S ALL RIGHT, DEAR. YOU WERE IN SOMEWHAT OF A SITUATION. OH, YOU’LL NEED BURN CREAM.
Me: For…? *standing up, a bit too quickly* Oh, fuck.
Miranda: THAT.
Louis: BE CAREFUL, DAMMIT!

I’d forgotten just how hot my coffee was. I swore all the way carrying him inside, ran my hand under cold water while swearing, and introduced him to Fred, George, and Tiny!Batman in a rather perfunctory fashion. George got him a cuppa, Fred clucked over the state of his boots, and Wendy did not take to him but she was polite.

Later, of course, I found out he really was a good ally in the event of squirrel attack. But that’s (say it with me) another story.

Moss, Miranda, Bactine

The Backyard Oracle

When we last spoke, dear Readers, I had decided to visit Miranda. It’s kind of hard to keep a straight face when you’re cleaning off a statue’s tatas, but I managed.

Miranda: THANK YOU, DEAR.
Me: *peeling moss from well-formed breasts* Miranda, someone’s shooting at Phil and Willard.
Miranda: JUST WILLARD.
Me: …okay. *brushing away dirt and polishing her shoulders* And Joe.
Miranda: YES, WILLARD AND JOE. THANK YOU, DEAR.
Me: And putting moss on you. *pointing at the dead campfire* And building fires.
Miranda: I BELIEVE HE THOUGHT I MUST BE COLD.
Me: *gathering all my patience* Miranda, he shot at me too. This isn’t good for the backyard community.
Miranda: NO, I SUPPOSE IT ISN’T.

That’s the thing about having an oracle in your backyard. They’re sometimes a little frustrating to talk to. At least there were no more crossbow bolts winging by. So I gathered my patience again.

Me: *brushing off her skirt* Miranda? Do you happen to know who this person is?
Miranda: OH YES, DEAR. IT’S LOUIS.
Me: *finally feeling like we’re getting somewhere* Lewis?
Miranda: NO, LOUIS. SPELLED FRENCH, PRONOUNCED OTHERWISE.
Me: How did you know I spelled…oh, never mind. Look, so where can I find this Louis-pronounced-otherwise? I really need to explain some things to him.
Miranda: I CAN INTRODUCE YOU, IF YOU’D LIKE. HE CAMPS HERE AT NIGHT, OFTEN.
Me: Good Lord. Okay. When?
Miranda: COME BY TOMORROW MORNING.
Me: *remembering weather report* It’ll be raining.
Miranda: NOT WHEN YOU COME BY. ALSO, YOU’RE OUT OF BACTINE.
Me: You mean I’m going to need it?
Miranda: *nods, smiling gently*
Me: Oh, fuck.
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DEAR.

As usual, she was right. (Don’t ask. It had to do with a frightened cat, Odd Trundles, and leftover spaghetti. I SAID DON’T ASK.) Not about the language, but about the…well, anyway, the next morning I checked the iron-clouded sky, sighed, poured more coffee, and sallied forth.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Under Fire

Me: What on earth–
Phil: DON’T ASK.
Willard: *grooooooan*
Me: Does this have anything to do with the little plastic crossbow–
Phil: I SAID DON’T ASK.
Me: But–
Phil: I’M JUST GONNA SAY, THERE’S SOMEONE GONNA GET HURT.
Me: *picks Willard up, gingerly* Oh dear. Are you hurt, sweetheart?
Willard: *mumbles incoherently*
Phil: *pops pebble in Willard’s mouth* YOU NEVER CALL ME SWEETHEART.
Me: You’re not helpless.
Phil: DAMN STRAIGHT. STAY INSIDE FOR A WHILE, OKAY?
Me: You know I can’t.
*whooshing sound*
Phil: WOMAN, GET INSIDE.
Me: *eyeing the tiny plastic crossbow bolt buried in beauty bark at Willard’s feet* This is…exotic. And you’re sexist.
Phil: *vanishes*
*a long yodel floats from the roof*
Willard: *moans around pebble*
Me: *trying to look everywhere at once* Oh, hell.

TO BE CONTINUED…