Songs, Handholds

The week continues. I woke up with Janet Jackson’s Nasty in my head, playing at jet-takeoff levels. It is indeed what the kids call these days a sick groove. I’d forgotten Paula Abdul was in that video, so I probably should listen to Straight Up and Rush, Rush this morning too. Not to mention some Pointer Sisters. Sometimes that’s how the day goes, using songs like handholds, working my way up the cliff face.

It’s very bright this morning; the sun rising in a clear blue sky but still trapped behind the cedars. A tenuous, fragile peace fills me; it could be simple emotional exhaustion. I think I’ve gone numb, to a certain degree. The hurt is still there, a slice from sharp rocks under ice-cold water, I just can’t feel the damage.

I did manage to get the line edits open yesterday, at least. It’s not bad, I’m just resisting reading the books again because they deal with grief and I have all I can handle sitting in my chest at the moment, a granite egg holding something horrific. Most of yesterday I was sunk in the space werewolves thing, occasionally stopping to yell “OH MY GOD JUST KISS” at the characters.

Not sure if this story will do what I want. They rarely do. I just wanted some fluff, but the characters are talking and both of them have goals and backstories hardly conducive to what I intended. I talk a lot about the balance between absolute control of and absolute submission to the work, but sometimes one just wants the bike to go in the direction one’s steering, goddammit.

On the bright side(?), there was a Jerry sighting yesterday during dinner. The poor fellow really is hapless, and I feel bad for laughing. Whatever was wrong with him, I suspect it happened before he interacted with Boxnoggin, and I’m glad his fellow corvids (especially Carl and Sandra) pitch in to help him out. And–not gonna lie–I feel somewhat of a kinship with him. God knows I bumble through life trying desperately not to crash into any trees, literal or figurative.

Yesterday there was a small earthquake in the area. Don’t worry, it was only 2.8 on the Richter, and I’ve long ago made my peace with living on the Ring of Fire. (And now I’m humming Johnny Cash.) I was at my desk, and my first thought was that the wood had achieved sentience and given a shiver. Then my heart exploded with joy because I thought it was Bailey was in the footwell, as was her wont sometimes, and she’d turned over or settled with a huff, shaking the entire piece of furniture. Then I checked, remembering afresh that she’s gone, and wondered if it was her ghost, or if I was telekinetic, or if I had finally gone ’round the bend and was hallucinating.

I’ve been told I’m crazy, or too imaginative, all my life. (Despite my intuition being right 98% of the time, I might add.) Funny, ennit, how we can be trained to disbelieve our own perceptions?

Yeah. Hilarious.

The coffee is almost done, so I should shuffle out to the kitchen for some toast. Today Boxnoggin gets a long walk, and he’ll enjoy that muchly. He’s taken to prancing when he leaves the house in harness, and clearly considers himself my protector even more than he used to. Getting it through his canine head that I’m the one in charge takes plenty of patient redirection, but at least when I’m doing that I’m not glancing to my other side to check on the empty spot that should be holding Miss B.

I hope the peace lasts. And I hope I can get these damn characters to kiss sometime soon. If they won’t, well…there are worse things, I suppose, and at least I’m being distracted.

See you around.

Exuberant Violet


The African violets are doing rather well. I did have an LED growlight for them, but apparently it was Too Bright, so they’re back on the coffee table in their old spot. There’s another rack of seedlings and small starts under the growlight, though, so it isn’t going to waste.

The violets have expressed their relief by bursting into exuberant flower, egged on by the blood lily, which has returned from its dormancy with panache. Having one of those is an exercise in patience and trust–each time it dies back I’m certain it will never recover, though I know perfectly well it’s just doing its usual thing and will poke its green head back up after a rest.

Friday is ambling on its merry way, thankfully much less weird than Thursday. Even the sprinklers are back to their regular selves. Of course, at least three squirrels have taken headers out of the cedars today, each time after a scrabbling fury that brings me out of my office chair to look out the open window. I’m pretty sure it’s not just the same squirrel each time…

…but one can rarely tell, with these little arboreal menaces. They keep getting up and staggering away, so at least I don’t have to go out with a shovel and attempt some kind of rescue or burial.

Small mercies on a Friday, but I’ll take them. Have a wonderful weekend, my beloveds.

Weeds At Home


I don’t know who these sunshine-y fellows are, but they’re all through the shadier upper garden beds. The roses and violets don’t seem to mind and they’re not near any vegetables, so I’m leaving them alone. I don’t do a terrible amount of weeding anyway–I pretty much figure dandelions need a home just like anyone else.

I do get rid of blackberry sprouts, though. Those bastards are wicked, and they’re everywhere. They have a home in the park up the hill, massive banks of green thornvines providing great quantities of berries and flowers for the fauna. I’m sure a few humans live in that stretch of “waste” land as well.

I’ve achieved very little of what I set out to do this week, but plenty in other areas. Some weeks are like that–the victories are not in the direction one would wish, but are joyous nonetheless.

Next week I’ll tell you about a new body for a gargoyle, and maybe about Einstein the Ring-Tailed Squirrel. But right now it’s time for a little coffee, perhaps a little brekkie, and looking over what’s been accomplished as well as planning the weekend.

I don’t think I’ll vacation anymore for a while. My heart can’t stand it.

Happy Friday, my beloveds. May it be full of things you like, and empty of things you do not.

Picking Battles, No Not Those Ones

Coming back after a long, long weekend, looking at a particular thread in email, and deciding, “Welp, I can be done with this issue, it can be dead to me,” is particularly liberating. I’m not sure I would have arrived there without the past few days spent consciously and resentfully Not Working.

Maybe that’s why everyone likes vacation so much; it repeatedly massages one’s sense of the possible and acceptable with a giant stick.

It’s not a bad thing. I already have as much work as I can handle. I just wanted things arranged a particular way and if that’s not going to happen, fine. Moving on.

Today will be all about retrenchment and planning. Fortunately it’s a lovely cool morning and the marine layer is doing good things. This weather is far more to our liking–and by “our” I mean not only the humans and dogs, but the trees and shrubbery, not to mention smaller green things. If I could just suss out the problem with the sprinklers, we might be sitting easy–but as it is, I’m still watering by hand.

Not a bad price to pay for some tomatoes; the seedlings are past the most critical stage. Still not sure why the squirrels seem intent on grubbing up a few things, but I guess that’s arboreal rodents for you.

Speaking of squirrels, the Princess saw one with a ring-striped tail the other day. (Are you sure it wasn’t a baby raccoon, I asked, and she whipped out her phone with a long-suffering sigh. It was, indeed, a squirrel, and she had proof.) “It sashayed right across the deck. It stopped to LOOK at me when it was near the door, Mum. I had to check that I had shoes on even though I was inside.”

Which is, as we all know, the most reasonable thing to do when faced with one of those hyperactive little barstids.

I do have a Tale of the Backyard to tell you, but it has to wait. Today is for other things, like rearranging the ol’ publication schedule and divvying up the day between revisions on Sons of Ymre, an audio proofing (listening as the book is read), revising a combat scene to get it to acceptable zero-draft status, a run, and as much coffee as I can stuff down my word-pipe.

Coffee goes in, gory little stories come out. It’s the circle of life. It’s gonna take a much longer time to finish Cold North‘s trilogy now…but that’s okay. We can wait for good things, and besides, this means it can be told the way it wants to be, without well-meaning interference. So on the bright side, there’s that.

Anyway, as soon as I can, I’ll take a few pictures and tell you all about the Gargoyle’s Body. But that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Today’s full-up, no more can fit, that’s too many battles, put some battles back.

Over and out.

Whyfor, Carl?

Normally I do the Morning Walk Report on my Masto instance…but today’s was just a little weirder than usual.

It wasn’t the weather, though yesterday’s heat was only a prelude. They’re saying over 100F sometime this weekend; I’m sure that will be fun. But this morning there was a little coolth, and Sandra came by the birdbath as usual so I knew Carl and Jerry were okay.

Anyway, I strapped the dogs in and got us all out the door, thank heaven.

It wasn’t until we were halfway down the block, a bee crawling on my shoulder and Miss B very interested in some lithadora, that I realized Boxnoggin wasn’t prancing just because he was happy to be out of the house. No, he was dancing in place for an entirely different reason.

If it wasn’t Carl it was his evil twin, standing in a driveway and eyeing us sidelong. I caught a wicked gleam in his corvid eye while Boxnoggin strained at his harness, just longing to get across the street and Make A New Friend.

Given that Box’s idea of “friendship” with smaller creatures is “shake it like a Polaroid until the neck snaps, then look mournfully at the corpse wondering where your friend went”, I felt it was unwise (to say the least) to let him seek a closer acquaintance with Carl.

Besides, Carl fights dirty. I should know.

I don’t know if it’s normal behavior for a crow to follow a wild-haired writer and her two canine companions around the block for walkies. But every time I looked up, Carl–or his evil twin, I am certainly not ruling that out–was perched nearby, taking off with a snap-flutter as the dogs finished their sniff stops and moved on. I’m not sure if he was herding us, just curious, or doing recon for a sudden attack.

What I do know is that Boxnoggin was very aware we were being watched, and seeing him alternate between fierce “it’s on the ground, let me go SHAKE IT” and coy “ohai, you are watching me from above, let me display coquettish prancing to entice you closer” was not the most amusing thing I’ve ever seen–but it was close.

That was how I came to be standing on the sidewalk audibly scolding a crow for taunting my poor dog. “He’s not bright, Carl,” I informed a bird slightly bigger than Boxnoggin’s head. “This is beneath you, frankly, and I’m disappointed in your behavior.”

Carl cawed a couple times in reply, clearly unwilling to give up the game.

Once we got to the backyard and I let the dogs out of their harnesses, Carl settled in the cedars, watching while I herded them back into air-conditioned calm. He was gone when I came back out, hair braided and the rest of me slathered with yet more sunscreen for the morning run.

I don’t even know.

As for the run, I sweated sunscreen into my eyes so that was fun. Also, the bees are getting to be a nuisance. I love them, I truly do, but trying to crawl into my nose is not the thing. I suspect the only reason they didn’t go for my ears was the fact those are always blocked with music-delivery pods, and my eyes were left alone because I was blinking furiously trying to get away from the stinging.

They’re leaving my mouth alone, at least for now. Small mercies. I was also afraid I’d crush one settling in my elbow as I ran, but I guess it just wanted a drink? I’m happy to help but dear gods, the little pollinating bastards seem to lack all sense of self-preservation.

I’m hoping Carl’s accompaniment was merely curiosity. If he’s planning hijinks, I may have to stroll the dogs while armed. I’m sure the neighbors won’t wonder at me walking along, two dogs strapped to my waist, a golf club over my shoulders.

It might even add something to the morning…

The Jerry Situation


So this, my friends, was the Asshole Crow Condo that Jerry didn’t bother using. We left it out all night and I finally broke it down the next afternoon. In the rain. Cursing Jerry all the while, even though I was super glad (for my daughter’s sake) the raccoons hadn’t found and trashed it.

For the curious, the Original Jerry Watch 2021 Situation Thread is here, the update is here, and the finale–such as it is–here. It took a week for Jerry to show back up; I’m pretty convinced either his tailfeathers or some version of corvid drunkenness (there are compost heaps with no shortage of fermented stuff everywhere in the neighborhood) was to blame for the entire incident. He could have been a fledgeling, true, but he was pretty big–as one can see by the size of the box we chose for his (supposed) recovery.

Poor Jerry. I won’t deny I was bloody well relieved to see him again. He does seem to be having some trouble with flying still, but Carl and Sandra are looking after him and there’s plenty of food in the backyard.

He seems to have learned his lesson about taunting Boxnoggin, too. And I perform a Jerry Check upon the yard before letting the dogs out. Miss B doesn’t really care–the most she’ll do is eye the smear she can only indistinctly see but can smell just fine and wonder if she should be herding it but it doesn’t smell like a sheep, so maybe she shouldn’t? But Box is very committed to Backyard Safety, by which he means yelling his fool head off at everything that moves before taking off at top speed to catch it.

Me? I’m just here to witness the hijinks, apparently.

Have a good weekend, my beloveds.

An Almost-Bunny Brekkie

“I ALMOST CAUGHT IT, TOO.”

This is the face of a dog who happened across a feral rabbit in our backyard this morning.

I knew it was only a matter of time before the rabbits got up the hill. Their range has been spreading, and we had a comparatively mild winter. They started out on the other side of a major concrete artery, then somehow got across downhill near a watercourse, and it’s been fascinating to see them creep up the hill when I take the dogs on morning walkies. Nonscientific and completely anecdotal field work, you see.

Anyway, uncaffeinated and with my shoes untied, I let the dogs out for their morning evacuations and prancing. It was early enough I didn’t think squirrels were a real risk.

Imagine my surprise when Boxnoggin let out a yelp of excited, pained disbelief and tore across the yard. Imagine my further surprise when I saw Monsieur Lapin (for some reason I always address rabbits in French) hightailing it (literally) across said yard from north to south (south being downhill and, of course, the direction he’d more than likely come from).

You can further imagine my despair when I saw Boxnoggin tearing after him at a speed that seemed unlikely to catch but perfectly likely to overshoot a mark or two and consequently paste him onto the fence. While I could tell there was no danger of a bunny breakfast, Boxnoggin seemed very likely indeed to either hit the fence or attempt to leap the gate.

Upon both those paths lies danger.

I’m not too worried ol’ Boxnoggin will clear the fence, mind you. He has gained a reasonable amount of heft and dignity (such as it is) with the fullness of time and, alas, cannot catch the kind of air he used to. But doing himself some injury by applying himself to said fence at high velocity is entirely possible, and lo I let out a, “WHAT THE FUCK STOP FOR GOD’S SAKE YOU IDIOT,” that shattered the morning quiet.

Of course, he paid no attention. Every fuse inside his doggy skull was blown. The terrier part of his genetic inheritance had burst from confinement like a werewolf’s hunting frenzy, and the tiny cottontail bobbing before him was the sum of all desires.

Fortunately (for Monsieur Lapin) or unfortunately (for poor Boxnoggin), the rabbit had obeyed the number-one rule of reconnaissance: Always know your escape route. (Insert obligatory Princess Bride reference here.) Monsieur was vanishée, and Boxnoggin was désolée. (I had a whole disparue joke here, but it didn’t quite have the ring.)

Ol’ Box did a full circuit of the yard, nose down, while I pressed my hand over my pounding heart and discovered I did not need caffeine to wake up, terror works just fine. Finally, when he had verified that no further rodent snacks were lingering in the ferns, under the redbud tree, among the roses, in the vegetable garden, behind the shed, under the deck, in the shed, under the red wagon, or in any other place belonging to the yard, he consented to come inside and eat his (non-bunny) brekkie.

Miss B watched all this go down with mild interest, being occupied with peeing the whole time. In her younger days she would have added to the circus, but she had a full bladder and contented herself with a single burp-bark of supervision. “YOU’RE NOT GONNA CATCH IT, DUMBASS. MUM, WHERE’S MY KIBBLE?”

So, my Friday started with a dose of exhilarating fear. I hope yours began in a more tranquil fashion. Now that the rabbits have found my yard, of course, no vegetable is safe, and Boxnoggin is going to be searching for more carrot-chewing maniacs as a matter of course every time he’s let outside.

This…will not end well, I’m sure. But it’ll be hilarious.

Have a good weekend!