Mileage and Cheese

A lovely cool grey morning, though without a single spatter of rain, has me feeling almost myself again. Almost, just not exactly quite. I managed to get out the door for the morning dog walkies a few minutes early, which meant less traffic on the sidewalks; the day’s run was accomplished at a slightly lower speed than usual since I’m bulking mileage. Come Friday or so I’ll do some intervals, then after a few days’ worth of rest my speed should start to creep up while my distance remains steady.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

I did not get a heroine involved in a stabbing yesterday, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the stabbing has to come today, in the hero’s POV. Serves him right if he gets a puncture; he’s been getting a bit arrogant lately and needs someone to take him down a peg or two. This being Hell’s Acre, of course, he’ll get it in the most mannerly way possible from our dear heroine.

I mean, she’ll stab, but she won’t be rude.

Other than that, the day is set aside for revisions on Sons of Ymre. There’s a lot more horror than romance in that book, and the Lovecraft and King in Yellow references fall fast and thick. My poor editor. *evil chuckle*

I’ve queued up a lot of Miles Davis for the afternoon’s work, and am attempting to use another jolt of coffee to clear the mud out of my head. I’d forgotten how absentminded upping my running mileage makes me for the first couple days. On the plus side, I’ll sleep well tonight, which is a blessing all its own.

The minus is that my usual work pace has dropped to what feels like a snail-crawl. I know it’s not, I know I’m in a good spot and can afford a few days’ worth of not-quite-top-speed, but still. It irks me to be operating at less than full capacity.

Some of my slowness could be the absence of lunch, a problem easily rectified even if the dogs are going to be underfoot as soon as I twitch to rise from my office chair. Since I’m contemplating midday bruschetta, their cheese-sense is no doubt tingling. I swear, the instant any human in the house even thinks about thickened milk product, both dogs perk up and scuttle forth to beg for treats with single-minded intensity.

…I just glanced at the office door. Miss B is sitting, ears up and eyes bright, waiting. Every inch of her is expectant.

I suppose I can’t disappoint the poor elderly dog–and Boxnoggin is coming down the hall, his nails clicking on hardwood. Time to wade through canine excitement in the direction of the kitchen and hope the kids left me some fresh mozzarella.

Garden Amelioration, and Glitter

It’s a quiet, cool Monday morning–a lot nicer than the last Monday I suffered, and that right out the gate as well. Even the coffee tastes better today for some reason.

It could be the long run I took on Saturday, a sign that I can carefully start upping my mileage. I was quite pleased to find that out, except for the fact that it means I’m going to have to do interval training as well. If there’s anything I hate, it’s the bloody intervals, but they help with a lot of things and cut down on injuries so I suppose I must.

Today is for retrenchment, scheduling, and decision-making. I might even get the kitchen mopped if I’m extraordinarily ambitious. But mostly it’ll be revisions on Sons of Ymre, as well as a rooftop battle in Hell’s Acre. The latter’s gone about as long as it can without someone getting knifed atop a crumbling alt-Victorian tenement.

My joys are tiny and petty, but they are entirely mine own.

The sprinklers are finally working again. (I will say the solution was hysterically simple, and made me laugh like a hyena for HOURS.) Which means that some of the garden damage will be ameliorated soon. The ferns are already luxuriating in the change, and the honeysuckle’s very glad indeed. It’s a good thing plenty of bushes were already well-established or that heat dome would have put paid to them all. As it is, I think we’ve lost at least two rhododendrons. The poor things just couldn’t take it.

Plenty of the evergreens in the neighborhood are showing crispy needle-ends. Even some of the lavender is looking scraggly, and once established that plant likes a great deal of benign neglect. At least I saved the tomatoes and most of the peppers.

I suppose I should quit nattering about the garden and get the dogs walked. I’m going to need to lace my shoes loosely today, but not so loose they slip free when I hit warp speed. It’s all a balance.

The big event of the weekend (so to speak) was walking up to the craft store to get round magnets. One session with a glue gun later, and I have more fridge magnets made out of bottle caps. The cackling of joy when I realized yes, I am capable of wielding a glue gun was probably disconcerting as all get-out, too. You know they have glitter sticks for those things?

The mind boggles.

In any case, I’d best take advantage of the quiet while it’s still here. As soon as I shift to tie my shoes I’ll have Canine Halp, and that doesn’t even cover the entire brushing-my-teeth situation. I suppose I should be thankful the dogs are seeking to be helpful, because it they set out to be actively obstructionist I’m afraid the house might be reduced to splinters ere long.

I’m cautiously hopeful Monday’s going to cooperate. It would be a nice change.

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.

Marshmallow, Sun Storm, Tuesday

It’s a grey Tuesday morning and there is not enough coffee in the world. A solar storm is expected to hit the earth today, and frankly I’m not bloody surprised, the way things have been going.

At least the cicadas are quiet, since the temperature drops overnight. They’re probably waking up the same as I am, lethargic and blinking, staggering towards their version of coffee, preparing for an entire afternoon of screaming in the treetops.

Lucky bastards.

Even the dogs are a bit beside themselves this morning. They won’t eat their breakfast and Boxnoggin is in a fractious-toddler mood. I’d say “you need a nap, dog,” but we literally just rolled out of bed. It could be he’s sensing my crankiness.

There are bright prospects, though. The other day I made an offhand comment about using Cocoa Pebbles and Rice Krispies to make treats–you know, butter, marshmallow creme, all that. The Princess got That Look, and when she came home yesterday she was loaded with Cocoa Krispies, tiny chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a plan.

I pointed out there were Cocoa Krispies but no Cocoa Pebbles (her very favorite cereal) in her supplies and my eldest child fixed me with an arch look of amusement. “The recipe I found was for Krispies, so I’m doing it that way first before I alter it.”

I could only nod sagely and mumble, “That means more marshmallow treats for us all, so I can’t complain.”

To which my child replied, just as her mother would, “Damn right.”

She even divided the pan into quarters. One was plain, one was studded with sea salt flakes, the third had tiny chocolate chips, and the last was drenched with homemade salted caramel sauce. Needless to say, that last bit was my favorite, though everyone else in the house is split between the plain and salted quarters.

So, there’s a crispy-crunchy experiment at some time in my future, possibly with caramel. That’s not a bad prospect; it’ll get me through a day of internal wires sparking through worn-off insulation, a both-hands deathgrip on my temper, and my fingertips aching from keeping my claws sheathed.

In any case, I should probably get some breakfast to balance out the caffeine once my stomach settles, the it’ll be time to walk the furry brats. I’m sure there will be hijinks; Carl the Crow has taken to accompanying us on walks around the block. She flits from tree to tree, eyeing me sideways and occasionally letting out raucous yells. I’m not sure if she’s adopted us or is waiting for me to look away so she can torment Boxnoggin–I believe she has not forgiven him for the Jerry Incident.

Speaking of Jerry the Crow, his tail feathers appear to be healing, and he’s having a lot more luck with flying. He’s still apparently only capable of short hops, and he tends to hang around our yard all day because I’m leaving sunflower seeds and the like in easy-to-reach places for him. Sandra and Carl are okay with this too; they keep bringing peanuts and cracking them in the birdbath, filling the damn thing with peanut shells. I think someone in the neighborhood thinks they’re feeding squirrels, though why anyone would do such a thing is beyond me.

We also have a ring-tailed squirrel (christened Einstein) who is up to No Good and seems positively bent on tormenting my daughter. Maybe it’s a family inheritance thing.

I do have a Backyard Tale to tell you concerning Norbert (long-time Readers will remember Norbert the Shattered Gargoyle) but I need more time and energy to write it than I possess today, so it’ll have to wait.

And with that, my beloveds, I shall bid you a fond adieu. Getting out the door before the marine layer breaks and the temperature rises is the name of the game, and since I’ve finished my coffee, breakfast is next. I can only dread what sort of hijinks will occur once I strap the dogs into their harnesses and leave the house.

Wish me luck…

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.

Another Zero Bites Some Dust

Late on Tuesday–I think it was Tuesday, yes?–I finished the zero draft of Black Land’s Bane, first in the Cold North trilogy. That’s the Tolkien Viking werewolves, for those keeping score.

I thought it would sell before now. But oh well, at least it’s another zero in the bag. It will need a significant amount of working-in and embroidery; right now it’s very lean even at 103k words. There’s some serious epic chonk that needs to go into this bad boy, including expanding the Giant Spiders section.

If there’s anything this book needs, it’s more giant spiders. The Valkyrie shieldmaid Arneior steals most of, if not all, the scenes she’s in, and the emotional heart of the book is the relationship between the elementalist and said shieldmaid. Men come and go, after all, but a childhood friend with a spear and a temper is forever.

The cicadas are already starting in the treetops, which means it’s going to be very hot indeed. We don’t get the seventeen-year kind out here, but I can well imagine the din in other places. Regardless, the insects know about the coming heat ridge, and even the dogs are subdued.

Black Land’s Bane finished easily; I wasn’t even aware I was pushing for the end. I thought, huh, in two more scenes we’ll get to the natural terminus, then before I knew it I was there. It’s by far the easiest a zero’s ever finished itself, which makes me nervous.

I keep waiting for a shoe to drop, so to speak. And since I didn’t reach the end with screeching tires, all the energy of pushing through the book is ricocheting inside my entire body. It’s unpleasant, but I just have to let it settle. Next up comes revising Sons of Ymre, sending off the line edits on book three (the final volume!) of Hostage to Empire, and then turning my engines to writing two more romances and the zero of Hell’s Acre. I’ve even put some throwaway text on the beginning of Book 2 of Cold North, which opens with Solveig and Arneior imprisoned in an elvish citadel because of course it does, as Arneior would mutter, how could we have expected anything different?

I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad the elves didn’t decide to put them in an oubliette, but Labyrinth references might make the book even more of a hot mess.

*is thoughtful* Not that it’s a bad thing, mind. Maybe I should add more giant spiders and an oubliette, or even a Pit of Despair. After the extended Turin Turambar references and the Glorfindel anagram I’m sticking in, I’m not sure there’s really a good place to stop. MORE IS MORE, AFTER ALL.

Still, that’s for revision. Today is for preparation, bracing ourselves for the coming bad weather. All we can hope for is some part of the predicted heat ridge cracking earlier than expected. At least we’ve the downstairs, which stays cool even in the most torrid weather.

I’m devoutly hoping for no gender reveal parties kicking off border-jumping wildfires this year, too. It’s a small dream, but it’s cherished. I might be recovered enough from this zero draft to risk heat prostration; if I set my alarm early enough I can get out while it’s still relatively cool.

Not today, though. Today I try to get the flywheel inside my head to spin down. As easy as finishing the zero was, recovery is correspondingly harder. I knew there was a catch to a stroll over the finish line instead of a desperate scramble.

The dogs need walking, and I think I glimpsed Carl in the backyard. Maybe I should take the Sekrit Weapon (i.e., the Golf Club) along.

Further bulletins as events warrant…

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…