Damp and Dry

Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

RELEASE DAY: She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero

Happy Yule, my beloveds! It’s the darkest night of the year and the day the kids and I celebrate even if we miss the festival on the 25th. Tonight a candle will hold vigil for me, since I have lost the desire to be awake all night. And boy howdy, do I have something fun for you!

You may or may not remember one of IndigoChick Design‘s premade sales, where I snapped up a lovely, enchanting cover I really do have to write something serious for. It was the tagline on the cover that got me, though: She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero. It reminded me of those 70s pulp gothic romances–women with great hair fleeing old houses. Of course I had to buy it, and I had to write a story.

And this is what happened.


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She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero

Titness McHawttie has fled her marriage to the disturbingly virile Byron Blackheart, Lord Chestthumper. Can she survive a night upon the moors with her faithful almost-unicorn–and will Byron find his vanished bride in time?

Now available direct from Gumroad, from Barnes & NobleAppleKobo, or Amazon. (Paperback also available.)

Note: This is a short story, about 10k words.


There’s all sorts of stuff jammed in here–gothic romance conventions, a pinkish almost-unicorn named Chicken, a dashing highwayman, an aged herbalist beldam, a cold-hearted baroness, Rocky Horror Picture Show callbacks, references to the divine Bette Midler, a distinct whiff of the SNL Scorched Corset skit, and more! Some of my beloved subscribers, whose support gave me the time and resources to write the dang thing, are also Tuckerised in it.

The “Lady” comes from my Yule gift to myself–an honest-to-gosh Scottish title–and “Alana Smithee” is a long-standing in-joke between Lady Skyla Dawn Cameron (also a Lady now) and Yours Truly. It’s 10k+ words of hilarity, and I had a great time putting it together.

I also begged my long-suffering cover designer for a new pulpy cover, and she gave me something great. I mean, just look at it. (I’m particularly fond of the 99p sticker. Takes me back, that does.)

So, just in time for Yule–I was waiting last night for one last sales platform to update; it’s near Christmas and everyone is overwhelmed–Titness McHawttie is fleeing across Heathencliffe Moors, and Byron Perssy Blackheart, Lord Chestthumper (who has fought more than one duel with persons mispronouncing his title) is in somewhat more-than-lukewarm pursuit. I hope you enjoy this little tale, my friends. I had a wonderful time with it.

And with that, I’m off. We’ve a busy day here at the chez, between some last-last-very last-minute shopping to prepare for the weekend, the dogs needing walking, a few spiritual observances, running my weary corpse, and some more work on Hell’s Acre. One I finish my coffee and swallow some toast I’ll be flying low with no brakes; should you hear a howling in the distance, don’t worry, my friends. It’s just me, moving at speed.

See you around.

Leaf Magic

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Just hanging out…

The feeling when one is just ditty-bopping along, minding one’s own ditty-bopping business, and one comes across a floating bit of leaf…suspended from gossamer threads tiny eight-legged predators extrude from their backsides.

You cannot tell me Nature, the gods, the Universe, or whatever’s responsible for All This doesn’t have a sense of humor. Sometimes that sense is almost as bleak and mordant as my own, sometimes it leaves mine in the dust, and sometimes it’s complete zaniness. I mean, think of platypuses, a giraffe’s blood pressure, fungus in general, the fact that rats laugh when you tickle them, entire groves of birch trees as a single organism–and floating leaf-bits, hanging from silk from spider buttholes.

Laughing at the absurdity is better than screaming at an uncaring universe. Or so I firmly believe, and will believe until I am shuffled out of the mortal coil. Plus, this shit is just genuinely hilarious.

Have a lovely weekend, my darlings. Be kind to yourselves, and each other; keep a sharp eye out for the weirdly funny lingering in every corner…

Horace, of the de Brassieres

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Horace de Brassiere, espresso machine and man about town

There’s been a positive plague of googly eyes around the house lately, since the Princess got an idea from Tumblr. (Apparently halving a bell pepper and sticking googly eyes on it is a good time. Who knew?)

My big Breville espresso machine needs a bit of care, so it’s sitting in the garage waiting patiently for the end of the pandemic. This fellow has stepped in to provide signal service, and for his pains he has been given…eyes.

I’m leaning into my mad scientist urges, I guess.

I was too lazy to go downstairs and get the glue gun, but it occurred to me, in a blinding flash of creative joy, that we had a whole cabinet of school supplies in my office and neither child is going back to school anytime soon. (College, maybe, once the damn pandemic…oh, you know the drill.) So I hied myself down the hall at high speed, startling the dogs into giving chase, and tore into said cabinet like a kid on Yule morning.

One glue stick and two very confused dogs later, I bolted back down the hall, and Horace’s surgery was performed posthaste while I treated him to a rousing rendition of a song about his cousin Phillip (the very worst of the French patent thieves).

…we used to sing that a lot in high school. Sometimes you’ve got to make your own fun, and if some cheap plastic from the craft store helps, there’s no reason to refrain.

Horace wishes you a very pleasant weekend, my beloveds. And so do I.

Our Assistant, Doge

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Identity theft is not funny, Jim.

So my daughter is a big Office fan, and got me to watch several seasons. My favorite scene is Dwight finding Pam crying in the stairwell and immediately puffing up to shank whoever hurt her; my feelings on any fictional character have rarely taken such a complete 180 as they did in those few moments of screen time.

Before, Dwight irritated the crap out of me. After, I was ready to pick up a baseball bat and follow him into battle.

Anyway, the Princess brought home some hilarious themed pillows during lockdown, and this was one of them. We can’t decide if it’s more or less funny that the “to the” is hidden. Doesn’t Boxnoggin look proud of his new title?

Actually, he’s a little put out, because he knows he’s not supposed to eat pillows and this one was deliberately set near him for a whole thirty seconds. It was whisked away once she got the shot; Boxnoggin was petted and made much of, told he was a good boy for refraining to savage the poor pillow.

Progress, right?

It’s a Friday that still feels like a Monday. I’m going to ask the local Assistant (to the) Regional Manager if we can just knock off early today.

I mean, look at him. Do you think he’ll disagree?

The Jerry Situation

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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.

Beautiful Mischief

It’s a grand thing, to commit some beautiful mischief.

Now, “beautiful mischief” is not pranking or practical joking, neither of which I’m very fond of because they can easily (and relentlessly) be used by abusive jackwads. Many’s the time a toxic person has pulled something horrific as a “prank” or “practical joke” and used “well, it was just a joke” as cover, and I dislike that right down to the ground.

I know a lot of people love board games and card games and plenty love practical jokes, but after seeing all three weaponized so often while growing up, I’m not a fan. Other people can do my share.

But beautiful mischief is something else. For example, if you know your bestie is writing a book or story centered on a circus, you could set up an entire three-rings-plus-ringmasters on her desk (most in brightly colored wind-up plastic, bless you, Archie McPhee) in the dead of night, and wait for her to find it. Or you could throw a Zombie-Tiki Surprise Party for someone who enjoys that sort of thing. Or you could do something like the Great Sock Monkey Incident(s). Or you could conceivably Tuckerize a friend into a limited-edition story about an undead woodland creature and clacking bronze testicles.

Beautiful mischief must be something that won’t upset or creep out a beloved person. It must not cause a problem for them to solve, either–all cleanup must be handled by the mischief-makers. It must show careful attention to the beloved’s likes and dislikes. It must be a surprise, and it’s best if one can enlist a whole group to spread both the cost and the enjoyment. Not that the cost need be prohibitive! Beautiful mischief can be as simple as texting pictures of garden gnomes or owls you know the other person will get a chuckle out of, or as complex as a multi-month wrangling of several moving parts for party planning or art commissioning. It could also be, say, a velvet painting of a certain fandom figure. (Or a glittery Sailor Moon tumbler. Hm. Someone I know could give THAT a good home…)

It’s delicious to keep a beautiful mischief secret and wait for the discovery. There’s nothing quite like it. I love both the secret, personal arrangement of beautiful mischief and facilitating it with an entire group. I think I like the facilitation best though, because then I can completely disavow any knowledge or responsibility. “What, me? I’d never, whoever did that must be a genius though…”

Heh.

Ideal, of course, is the beautiful mischief nobody ever finds out one has committed, leaving it a loving little mystery. They can suspect, of course, but, “Don’t thank me, because it wasn’t me, it must just be that you’re so cool the universe itself has arranged itself to give you something nice, which I wholeheartedly concur with because I think you’re awesome…” is my favorite way to finish off a bit of beautiful mischief, right next to letting someone else take the credit–though it must be credit; if there is blame for mismanaged mischief, step up and take it like an adult.

Fortunately, by obeying the rules of cleanup and non-creepiness, I have never had to take blame. I have, however, been fortunate enough to dodge a great deal of credit, which suits me roundly. It makes everything even more hilarious.

Anyway, I love doing this sort of thing when I’m a bit down. It’s even better to do it just-because, for no earthly reason at all. Striking without warning is the very essence of love and warfare, isn’t it?

Very soon–well, maybe not soon, given the vagaries of international shipping–I will hear a deeply horrified as well as utterly admiring “JESUS CHRIST NO WHAT THE HELL WHO DID THIS??!?!!” ringing across a whole-ass ocean. Then I will smile, knowing that lovely mischief has been managed, and get ready to blink with baffled innocence when accused of perpetrating or facilitating some hijinks of a deeply hilarious and caring nature.

And I will already be planning my next great scheme. Because I perpetually, solemnly swear I will never be up to any damn good.

*evil laughter fades into the distance*