Hooky in Lacey

I needed some time off from eighteen-hour revision days, so my writing partner said, “Lacey. Let’s go to Lacey.” What the hell is in Lacey, you ask? LOTS OF STUFF.

Let’s just go.

For example, there’s Shipwreck Beads. A warehouse. Of beads and beading supplies. Lest you think, well, that’s not so amazing, let me just reiterate: a WAREHOUSE. Bigger than my own domicile. In fact, multiple domiciles stacked on top of each other, because there were two floors. (We did not head upstairs, the bottom floor was more than enough for multiple hours of browsing.) I’m glad we made a circuit once, looking over everything, and then decided on purchases, because if we’d taken a cart (yes, they have CARTS, for BEADS) neither of us would have gotten out with any money left at all.


I sent that picture to the kids, and the Little Prince responded with, “You’re hitting the right…beads!”

Punning is apparently in his genetic code.

Anyway, once our endurance was exhausted there we broke for lunch and found the continent’s sketchiest Mexican restaurant right next to a biker garage. (The number of Harleys in the shared parking lot was approaching critical mass.) We also found a much less sketchy restaurant, and if I could ever drink tequila that would have been the place for it.

*sigh* I can’t drink at all anymore, but it’s nice to contemplate, I guess.

Then it was time for the big flagship Cabela’s.

The top floor of redneck heaven.

“I just wanted to see your eyes out on sticks,” my writing partner said, and they were. That particular Cabela’s is warehouse-sized too, but an order of magnitude larger than Shipwreck. And it was packed, both with goods and with people. You could do a lot worse than settle on one of the benches there and people-watch, listening for dialogue snippets. (All things feed the work.)

In the middle of the vast space was a two-story fake hill covered with taxidermy animals. Yes, you read that right.

Find the squirrel?

What I didn’t take a picture of, though I should have, is the hollowed-out interior of the hill, where the aquariums are. Sturgeon, trout both rainbow and speckled, pike–and big fish, too, just swimming around. Oh, and catfish. Boy howdy, were there ever catfish. I’m pretty sure that when the poor things get large enough they’re hauled out and consumed by the employees. There was even a polar bear (shot in 1970, according to the placard) and–are you ready?–a whole zebra, which was not on the fake hill but on a platform jutting out from the mezzanine.

We did not see a huge chunk of pink camo, which my writing partner assures me is otherwise a staple of the place. (She was a bit put out by this, to tell the truth.) But I scored some good hoodies for a fair price, which is what I wanted out of the place. Now, along with new jeans, I’m totally ready for winter. Which is good, because today began with grey skies and glorious rain, finally.

The weirdest thing about Cabela’s was in the loo. There was a biohazard sharps container on the wall, and it was pretty full. We figured there’s probably a lot of diabetes in their customer base, because it had a bunch of blood sugar testing strips among the insulin needles.

Cabela’s is also where my writing partner found a stuffed wolverine while I was writing Weasel Boy. I had to go by and say hello.

I’ve heard so much about you…

We returned home with plenty of crafting materials, a squeaky rabbit toy for Sir Boxnoggin, a smoked rawhide bone for Miss B (which she is guarding assiduously while I type this) and various other odds and ends. It was good to get out of the bloody revisions for a little bit, all the characters were starting to blur together and I needed something other than chewing the bones of an epic fantasy for a few hours. And now, of course, along with proper hoodies I’ll live in, come winter, I have enough earring material for MONTHS.

Today, of course, it’s back to the grind of revision–taking each sentence, turning it upside down, shaking it, using a scalpel to pare it down to bone. I’ll work better for having had a brief break, and I might even get this bloody revision done. I’m so far in the weeds I can’t even think about what it will feel like to have this book off my plate, and it irks me every time I look at my task list.

So that was my weekend, my hoopy froods. I hope yours was similarly enchanting and terrifying.

*wanders off to go back to work*

A Concrete Win

I needed a win, so I took Saturday entirely off working and bent my back to the remaining seventeen bags of concrete. In other words, I finished the damn patio. It took most of the day and my legs are still rubbery–each bag is 80lbs dry and mixing that shit with water is thankless work–but it’s done. Done, done, done.

And it looks nice, if I do say so myself. The bench will be on the other side once the fresh concrete cures enough to support it, and I might even get myself one of those bowl-type firepit things to roast a marshmallow or two over. And now, of course, the guys doing yard work won’t mow down my hostas and other stuff that will be grown in the empty patches. I can plant bulbs this fall, too.

Come spring, the garden will look…well, not exactly as I envisioned, because there’s always that space between desire and execution, but close enough that I can consider it, once again, a win.

I like that feeling. So, despite my legs being too shredded for a run today–a ramble with the canines and some yoga are all they can handle today–I am content, and ready to go back to kicking this epic fantasy’s ass.

I also got all my Sunday housecleaning chores done, despite moving slow as a damaged locomotive. I had momentum, sure, and I knew where to go, it just took me a little while of chugging to get there.

Each victory’s paid for in a different way, of course. And when my legs recover they’ll be stronger. Until then, I hobble out onto the deck every once in a while and look down at the patio…and feel good.

Squirrel vs Pole, Part V

The smoke has somewhat cleared, we’re supposed to get a break from the heat today, and I need to grease that damn bird feeder again. Yes, it’s become a weekly necessity.

…maybe I should back up.

When last we spoke, I’d had a bit of a brainwave. I slathered Crisco on that damn metal pole like I was expecting to fry chicken on it. (It’s been warm enough we probably could, but that’s beside the point.)

Anyway, the next day dawned just as nasty-hot and I all but forgot about the damn squirrels–a pleasant state of affairs, but one which hardly ever lasts, around here. I was poking at Robin Hood in Space, figuring out how I was going to get Alan-a-dale out of trouble this time, when the Little Prince yelled “MUM!” from the dining room.

When your kid bellows like that, all of a sudden you’re years younger and trying out for a track meet. I dropped everything and all but flew, my chair hitting the desk and making everything upon it dance. Miss B, startled out of a nap, scrabbled to keep up.

“What? Are you okay? What is it?”

He pointed at the French door, and I saw he wasn’t crying, his face was just contorting like that because he was unsuccessfully holding back a deluge of laughter.

“Out…there…” he wheezed, and I stared. So did Miss B, her head cocked at exactly the same angle mine was.

Scrabble-skritch-THUMP. Scrabble-scrabble-THUMP.

It was Olsen Twins, perhaps thinking he’d be able to get some better nuggets of birdseed if he snuck back when Batgirl and Preggers were otherwise occupied.

I have to hand it to that little furry bastard with his ragged, skinny tail and nervous twitches. He’s certainly motivated, and just as certainly dumb enough not to give up in an impossible situation. I’d call it bravery, but I’ve seen this same squirrel take off running when the wind ruffles his hindquarters.1

His leap to the first level–a horizontal loop meant to hold a potted plant, but the damn squirrels kept tearing up whatever I planted in there–was a marvel of ballet-like authority. His leap to the second loop, which holds a windchime, was even better.2 The next leap was to the central pole, whereupon he planned to shimmy upward…

…but the Crisco did its duty, and Olsen Twins scrabbled mightily, scritch-scratch, before falling, ker-thump, to the deck.

“Holy shit,” I breathed, and the Little Prince was cackling so hard tears stood out in his eyes. Miss B watched this, her head still cocked at the same do-I-believe-this-shit angle.

Scrabble-skritch-scrabble-THUMP. Again and again, he flung himself at the pole. I had to admire his stubbornness, having no little share of that quality myself.

Finally, though, his sides heaving, Olsen Twins had to take a moment on the deck. It was a very hot day, and he panted, glaring up at the bird feeders as if they had personally offended him. They were full, they were swaying gently, they were ripe, and they were utterly inaccessible.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no. Not the end at all.

Because, you see, the Mad Tortie had padded silently in to see what the ruckus was. She had crept under the table, weaving her way through the chair legs, and watched a few minutes of the debacle with interest. But when Olsen Twins paused, no doubt to cogitate upon his next plan of attack (which would, no doubt, be the same as his previous plan of attack, since squirrels are not known for their creativity) she struck.

I should mention, at this point, that we’ve switched to keeping the Mad Tortie inside, both because it’s safer for her and because she is a mass murderer. She was treating all the bird feeders in the neighborhood as her own personal buffet, and she was damn good at the business of killing. Anyway, she’s furious at not being let out to slaughter at will, and I suppose that frustration lent speed and strength to her spring–another marvel of authority, since she is at least as athletic as a squirrel.

However, her frustration had caused her to overlook one tiny detail.

That’s right. The door.

The glass door.

SPLAT went the cat.

BONG went the glass door.

“SHITNUGGETS!” screeched the squirrel.

“OH FUCK!” the Little Prince and I chorused in unison.

“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?” yelled Miss B, startled enough to lunge. Not for the squirrel, since she had not forgotten the sorcery humans use to keep the outside, well, outside.

No, she lunged for the Mad Tortie, who staggered away from the door, then noticed in a split second there was something large and furry coming her way. The Tortie took off the way she’d come, back under the table, and Miss B hip-checked the door as she turned on herself–that dog has an incredibly flexible spine, let me tell you–and followed suit.

“LOOK OUT,” the Little Prince yelled, whether at the squirrel, the cat, Miss B, or me, I could not tell.

“OH FOR GOD’S SAKE,” I added, at roughly the same time.

Chairs flew. The table rattled and groaned. The Mad Tortie streaked through the living room on her mission of escape, with Miss B in hot pursuit, every circuit in both animals’ tiny little brains fused. They knocked over two potted plants and moved the couch a grand total of two inches southward.

Olsen Twins, meanwhile, had decided discretion was the better part of valor and ran for the fir tree near the deck. Unfortunately, his paws were still laced with Crisco.

You know those cartoons where there’s a blur of legs, a critter scrabbling as fast as they can, but for some reason they aren’t going anywhere? Yeah. Like that. The Crisco also interfered with his cornering ability.

So, while the Mad Tortie and Miss B were moving furniture, Olsen Twins, fast and furious…

…ran right into one of the verticals of the deck railing and staggered backward, shaking his head.

“DID YOU SEE THAT?” I bellowed, but the Little Prince had turned to gape openmouthed at the trail of quivering air left by the Cat and Dog Show.

It took a while to calm things down. The Mad Tortie escaped downstairs with a headache, Miss B trotted back to grouse that she had almost, almost caught a cat3, the glass door stopped shivering, we cleaned up the table, and the bird feeder pole stood, smug and glistening, in afternoon sunshine.

And that, my friends, is how I finally–FINALLY–won one against those fuzzy little arboreal menaces.

I’m sure it’ll be the only time, but damn, victory is sweet.


Two Black Rhino running leashes, two Ruffwear harnesses, one locking carabiner from my climbing days, and we finally have a solution for two active, inquisitive dogs at once. I really like the Black Rhino leashes; I just wish they made a dual one with a thicker belt. That’s a small quibble–with the carabiner, the leashes can be kept at the small of my back, which means I can use my body weight to shift both of them at once.

Sir Boxnoggin loves walkies almost as much as he loves running. You can see him yearning for the fire hydrant, eager to lift his leg and tell the world he was here. Miss B, on the other hand, sticks close unless there’s another dog to be seen, in which case she wishes to make acquaintance in the worst way and is in danger of teaching Lord van der Sploot bad habits. Our next walk will include a small spray bottle for deterrence purposes.

It’s always something. But we got a good walk, Sir Boxnoggin is happily splayed on the hall floor to cool down, and all is (mostly) serene in the land of Canine.

Have a good weekend, chickadees.

Chalk Tangle

Since it’s summer, I can use one of the running routes that goes through an elementary school. I vary my routes constantly, on the principle that my body will respond to exercise better if it doesn’t get bored and (more importantly) anyone watching me won’t be able to tell which route I’m going to choose when–elementary safety for a woman in this society, even one with a faithful canine guard literally attached to her hip.

Anyway, since school let out, I’ve been watching this wall gather more and more chalk. It seems a gentle way to give a message to the world: “Unicorns!”, “Confidence is Power”, “Love is Wealth”, “Valerie was here”.

It makes me happy, so the last time I went by, I had to stop in the middle of the run and take a snap. Miss B, confused, kept pulling at the leash around my waist, so if it’s a bit blurry, my apologies. But you get the idea.

Unicorns, indeed.

Tiny Graces

Yesterday was awful, and now I have plenty to catch up on. I’m happiest when I’m working, I guess, but all the same…I’d like to layabout for a few more days and stuff my head full of fun things. Alas, administrivia and wordcount beckon.

On the bright side, I pulled a beautiful four-shot this morning, and here it is for your delectation. It smelled great, and cut with a little cream, tasted even better. And one of the kids loaded the dishwasher already, so that’s one less thing I have to do. Such little things–a cup of coffee, a dog’s nosing at one’s hand, finding the dishwasher already loaded–make life bearable. When I look to find what makes life worth continuing, it’s the tiny graces that end up outweighing all else.

I wish you a day full of small, beautiful things, my friends.