Shoes Tied, Dog Waiting

I managed to get my shoes tied this morning without Boxnoggin’s “help,” for which I am eternally grateful. He absolutely loves being useful, and longs to mouth at my shoelaces in order to taste where I’ve been and get himself under my hands, which means the prospect of a chest-rub or two.

I can’t really help myself. If a dog’s throwing themselves at my feet wanting to be petted, who on earth am I to say no?

Yesterday was a Monday in all senses of the word. It wasn’t bad, it was just… there were so many things I had to get done, and none of them were pleasant. None were actively bad, either, just time-consuming, stealing minutes away from the writing I’d rather be doing.

I would absolutely love to get back to zany squirrel stories and typing tales of gore, heartache, and redemption. Unfortunately, the world has other ideas, both in pandemic and fascist coup.


Because oh yeah, that’s still going on. That orange blivet and his criminal cabal are still squatting in the White House, still ramming through federal judgeships, still doing their best to maim, destroy, kill, and line their own pockets to the max. Even massive protests aren’t slipping their bony fingers from our throats.

I’m just so tired.


Despite all that, the dogs need walking, and I need a run. I’m slightly sunburnt from yesterday’s run, and glad that I didn’t actually get heatsick. I suppose the time spent inside air-conditioning while catching up with correspondence and other admininstrivia was actually a good thing. Go figure.

Days when I don’t run, the sharp annoyance cresting under my skin is ever so much worse. It’s not exercise anymore, it’s a bare necessity for keeping me from exploding with frustration. Today is going to require a virtual bath of sunscreen; the marine layer that normally keeps me safe is burning off earlier and earlier.

Summer is definitely not my most productive time–not enough rain–but it’ll do. There is a squirrel very upset about something in the backyard, and since Boxnoggin has been denied the pleasure of chewing my shoelaces while I try desperately to tie them, he is now in the kitchen, supervising whoever’s making their breakfast out there and hoping, I suspect, for a snack. Someone is cooing, telling him what a good boy he is. Every room he enters now, if it has a human in it, is full of pats and praise, and occasionally a treat or two, and he utterly glories in it.

As well he should, being a Very Good Boy. Miss B accepts the pets and praise as her absolute due, befitting the fuzzy little queen of our hearts, but Boxnoggin is constantly amazed. You mean it’s ME? You mean I am the prophesied Good Boy? Why, that’s GREAT! And he wriggles with the deepest possible glee each time, throwing himself on his back and combing the air with paws no longer too huge for his limbs.

He’s grown, the little weirdo. I can’t help but laugh, which pushes the frustration down and away like nothing else. I suppose I should finish the last of this rapidly cooling coffee and get out the door. They won’t wait for walkies forever.

At least swallowing several toads yesterday means there’s far fewer croaking at me today. I might even get some work done despite the load of pain and terror swirling in every corner. There’s the copyedits on Finder (which long-time Readers will know as Finder’s Watcher, inching its way towards publication) and wordcount waiting to be done, as well as paperwork from the accountant to sort and prep for its final destination.

Aye, no rest for the weary or wicked, as my writing partner would intone with a twinkle in her eye. As long as I’m breathing there’s work to be done.

Best to get started.

Foot-Stomach, Home

I could barely see this lovely stomach-foot clinging to a rain-wet tree trunk. The dogs crowded my knees, interested in whatever Mum was looking at–is it sniffable, is it snackable, is it something to chase? Boxnoggin put his paws on the trunk and stretched, aiming to get his nose close.

Fortunately, he’s not quite tall enough even while sploot-stretching, so the little gastropod was saved. Not that I think Boxnoggin meant any malice, but he is hardly the most delicate of dogs, and stands a real chance of crunchy-smashing the thing he’s interested in. Miss B could carry an egg in her mouth for miles at a dead run, did I ask it of her (I would never, because why on earth would we need to?) but Odd Trundles was untroubled by any sort of self restraint and Boxnoggin, though just as sweet and loving, is similarly untroubled.

I feel rather like this snail, actually, wishing to blend in with a handy trunk and get some rest. I wonder if they know they’re hiding? Carrying one’s home on one’s back only seems a burden until one longs to curl up somewhere safe, I suppose.

Happy Juneteenth, my friends, and I wish for your health and safety. I’m glad we’re due for a weekend; after finishing proof pages yesterday I could use one. We’ll see if I can actually settle enough to rest.

Over and out.

First, Pleasant Coffee

That first mouthful of coffee, first thing in the morning. I can feel the caffeine soaking in the moment I raise the cup to my lips, though I’m sure it’s merely psychological. Very little is as pleasant, even the fact that I got a great deal of the proofs out of the way yesterday and consequently have somewhat less to do today.

Somewhat. Not a whole lot, but somewhat.

I also have a new monstera plant. It was left over, looking sad and lonely and shaggy amid racks of brighter, better-trimmed, much smaller species, and my heart just cracked. Now he’s in my office, basking in a bigger pot under bright indirect light.

Yeah, I know. I can’t do much about the state of the world at large, but I can get a plant and nurse it back to health. It keeps me busy, I suppose. Attempting not to look at the news in the morning is good for me, I know it’s good for me, but I suppose I’m afraid the world will end and I’ll be the last to know.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, once I think about it, but the fear doesn’t think so. In fact, the fear, irrational as it is, tends to intensify if I don’t distract myself with work or… well, more work. If–and it’s a huge if–I can just drag myself out of bed in the mornings. Thank goodness for the dogs; they don’t give a damn about the state of the world. Their concerns are more immediate: breakfast, a good wee in the yard, walkies at the accepted time and along the accepted habitual route.

Heaven forbid brekkie or walkies change in even the slightest; the dogs, especially Boxnoggin, are creatures of strong habits and dislike any tiny deviation. He even gets miffed when the squirrels don’t show up at the same places he’s seen them before. I imagine him very much as a stage director tearing out his hair over some particularly enthusiastic and experimental actors.


I’d talk about the state of the world at large, but you probably already know and in any case, I’ve said what I’ve said and I stand by it. I am extremely disappointed that the media seems to be doing its best to elide ongoing protests, but what can one expect from corporations owned by one or two super-rich?


Anyway, there’s walkies to accomplish, a run to get in, and hopefully, if I am very disciplined today, the rest of the proof pages to knock off. Normally I do these on paper, because I don’t “see” the errors as well on a vertical screen. Fortunately I have a tablet and pencil, so I can pretend it’s paper while playing with something penlike. Which seems to be just enough to fool my brain into thinking I’m working in the accepted way, so it clicks over into “critical reading” mode. I don’t know how readers will like this book, but at least it’ll be the best I can make it before it toddles out into the world.

In between, when I’m taking breaks or before I really get going, I’ve been poking at Moon’s Knight. Of course I have other projects sitting and simmering, but that’s the one filling in the cracks while most of my bandwidth is taken up with Poison Prince. I’m deeply worried I won’t be able to pull off half of what I want to with Bloody Throne or Black God’s Heart, which is pretty usual at this stage of the game.

Part of the frustration is that I am not working at even close to my usual pace. Go figure, a worldwide pandemic, fascist coup, and massive protests seem to be giving everyone a smidge of trouble in the concentration department. I’m trying not to feel bad about it, but there’s that strange anxiety thing where the ability to cope with disaster is never good enough. At least I’m feeling more relaxed than I was–finally, finally nobody is telling me I’m “too sensitive” or “overreacting.”

Sooner or later I’ll be back to my usual speed. Or, you know, catastrophe will mean I’ve other problems. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, all I can do now is continue as I’ve been. I hope you find a little peace and self-care today, dear Reader.

We need all we can get.

Usual June

The coffee is particularly nice this morning. I got the perfect proportion of cream to bitter, and I am sipping it while not watching the world at large shred itself to pieces. Later today there will be gallons of tea while I mark up proof pages, always a fun time. The kids are looking forward to pizza if I spend all day doing that; finishing a zero, looking over CEs, or proof pages mean Mum might not have enough oomph by the end of the day to attempt anything like cooking.

We’re having usual June rains for once, which is grand because of drought. It also means I’m productive, though not in the way one would think–I spent most of yesterday on a trunk novel instead of on three paying projects and proofs. Sometimes one just has to give the Muse what she wants, and apparently she wanted a harpy attack on battlements.

Go figure.


It’s been two weeks, and the dictator is still in power after gassing and shooting peaceful protestors for a photo op. The military is still deciding which damn way to jump and the dictator’s cabal is still stuffing the federal judiciary. The media is deciding not to cover the huge ongoing protests, no doubt for a collage of reasons including the risk to reporters1 and the fact that a few in the ruling class now own most of our media outlets. The violent repression will probably go all but unremarked now, and come November voter suppression and other dirty tricks will put the seal on it.

And don’t even get me started on the pandemic. We’re seeing the result of Memorial Day’s “whining for a haircut” gatherings, and it’s just as anyone with any sense feared.

The body count is entirely to be expected with regressives and a criminal cabal made up of malignant narcissists and sociopaths in power. This is the system functioning as designed. It’s not a breakdown, it is the logical endpoint. In short, as many (including yours truly) broke our lungs and throats screaming in warning for decades, this was their game all along.


As usual, though, there’s the dogs to walk and a run to get in, laundry to fold, work to accomplish, voices to boost. The dogs were quite active early this morning, despite the fact that my alarm had not yet rung; maybe it was the rain overnight. Anyway, Boxnoggin was determined to crawl under my covers–probably because he thought the roof wouldn’t shield him from falling water–and Miss B, having decided she was up and wanted attention, was on my other side doing her level best to keep me from seeking solace in unconsciousness when she desired ear-skritches, dammit.

Boxnoggin will hate the morning’s walk, because his precious wee paws will get wet. You’d think he’d be more of a wash-and-wear bruiser, this dog, but instead he’s Nervous and Delicate. Miss B is the smarter and more dangerous of the two, but nobody seems to think so. They see the shape of Boxnoggin’s head and freak out, thinking “pit bull” instead of “oh hey, boxer-terrier mix, that’s no nanny dog.”2 I can’t count the number of people who have said “aren’t you scared?” while looking at him.

The dog can barely find his own paws; the only thing I’m concerned about is him tripping and hurting himself, frankly. But I just smile, because if they’re afraid of my big black doofus, it means I’m safer. Especially since most of the people who cast longing gazes upon him are the middle-aged white men who selfishly want me to stop going about my business to service their random emotional needs, and tend to get aggressive and violent if ignored. *eyeroll*

Meanwhile, I have to keep a sharp eye on Miss B if I’m accosted, because she is done with any bullshit at all and will lunge to nip if someone decides to intrude on my personal space. It’s the cranky old lady one has to watch out for, not the gangly youth in his black coat.

Much time has passed while typing this, mostly because Boxnoggin has been very insistent that he needs tummy rubs and needs them now, thank you, what on earth do you mean Mum might want to tie her shoes or finish a piece of writing first? Clearly my priorities must be readjusted. And of course I should probably take down the rest of this coffee if I expect to have anything resembling clarity of thought for the rest of the day.

Meh, maybe clarity’s overrated. I suppose I could just stagger along without it, the gods know seeing some things clearly has given me nothing but an incipient ulcer and trouble sleeping.

Happy Tuesday, dear Readers. I hope it’s less like Monday, although so far 2020 has seemed a year of bad Mondays.

Over and out.

Simple Creatures

It was a long weekend, but not a bad one. I felt quite guilty about taking time off, as usual. Still, I’m rested and relatively renewed, so at least there’s that. And I’m going to need it, there’s proof pages on the boil, not to mention daily wordcount to get in.

The dogs even got bacon grease in their breakfast, so their weekend is counted an unqualified win. And school is officially out, not just “work at home because pandemic,” so the Little Prince is quite happy; nobody will be bothering him to get his work done before faffing about.

Me? I’m fighting off the temptation to check social media before noon. If the world is on fire, it’ll burn just as well without me. I can’t work when I’m half sick with dread–though it’s never just half sick nowadays, is it.

The thing I can’t get over is how normal life goes on while I watch history happening. It never hit me this hard when I was younger–I remember seeing grainy television images of the Challenger disaster, of the Wall coming down, and the like, but since I had very little sense of history then, I knew only that it was important to watch and not look away. Being able to put what one’s seeing in some kind of context is terrifying.

Not that I wish I couldn’t–I’d rather know the context than be oblivious, I suppose. Regardless, I can wait until noon to induce more stress nausea. It’s not like it’s going anywhere.

All that being said, I’d love to be able to play with something just for me today–once the work is done. Maybe I’ll just do proof pages and reserve the evening for a trunk novel. I’ve been wanting to try something new lately, I might dig in the compost heap and drag a few old bits out, see what cross-pollinates.

As usual, there are the dogs to walk and a run to get in. Life doesn’t stop while the empire crumbles; it goes along, minute by minute, as if it can’t tell. I do notice the media seems to be ignoring the fact that the protests are still ongoing, which is… interesting, isn’t it. Certainly lets you know which side the bread is buttered on.

…there, that’s all I’m allowed to cogitate on the state of the world until I’ve finished coffee and had a run, in that order, with a slight break in the middle to walk these very excited canines. The bacon grease has filled them with optimism, hope, and quite a lot of energy. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be so easily pleased, then I take a look at my tea collection or the loaded bookshelves crammed in every corner of my house that can possibly hold such things.

I suppose I’m a simple creature in my own right. I wish the thought was as comforting as it could be.

Happy Monday, my friends. May we all have a little peace today.

The Agony of Hope

It’s another lovely grey morning; the garden is settling to its work wonderfully. The dogs have been fed, though Boxnoggin has turned his nose up at the offering. When he first arrived, dry kibble–let alone mixed with wet food–was pure manna from heaven to be scarfed as soon as possible. Now, after a few years of regular twice-daily feedings, not to mention treats, he is possessed of an epicure’s disdain.

I don’t mind. He’s sleek and glossy, obviously in no nutritional distress, and if he feels secure enough to leave his bowl lonely every few days it’s a sign that he knows more is always available. I consider his snooty little sideways this is inadequate, Mother glance a victory.

Another victory? He’s taken to occasionally sleeping on his back, all four paws in the air, propped against me or handy pillows on the bed at night. Miss B, of course, has her traditional place on the bed, and hops down a few times nightly to sprawl on the coolness of the loo’s tile floor. But Boxnoggin chooses a spot and stays there all night, occasionally shifting in place to expose his belly to the breeze. It’s especially fun when he begins dreaming.


The protests continue. The work of boosting other voices, encouraging anyone who listens to my rambling to do so, and of listening continues. Hope is creeping into my soul, though I am trying to bar the door. I can’t take the agony if it proves vain.

And honestly, I think it will prove vain, between the overwhelming violence regressives will unleash, the exhaustion of those on the streets who are at great risk of being felled by pandemic if they aren’t brutalized into silence by militarized police, and the complicity of Democrat power-brokers who think a few “reforms” will silence the howling and consider Republicans their coworkers and coevals owed more consideration than their constituents.

I’d say “vote them out” but who honestly thinks we’re going to have a free, fair election in November? If you do, I admire your optimism but see absolutely no grounds for it.

Last night I told the Princess, “It has always been like this. The difference is nowadays we have the cell phone videos to lift the rock and see what’s squirming underneath.” Sunshine is indeed the best disinfectant, showing the reality of the racist police state, and the mass unemployment caused in no small part by an absolutely criminally fumbled response to a global pandemic is a factor that may well prove decisive–the shitty jobs available to most of us, leaving us too tired, isolated, and afraid to protest or organize, no longer exist; so there’s time, energy, and the burning need to be in the streets.

I see America trembling upon a knife-edge, not between revolution and the status quo, but between vast violent repression by the dictator still squatting in the White House (remember on June 1 when he attempted to declare martial law? The military still hasn’t decided which side it’s on, and I keep highlighting this because it’s important) and co-optation of the protests by a few pseudo-liberal careerists who think a sop or two will return things to “normal.” You can see the latter in the mealy-mouth utterances of people who fancy themselves Serious and Bipartisan, tsk-tsking at the demand to defund the police.

“You should say reform instead,” they bleat.

“Reform” isn’t quite a dirty word yet, but when it’s used after every explosion of quite understandable anger by the people on whose scarred, bleeding backs America is built to give the illusion of progress that’s promptly forgotten once everyone is back at their shitty jobs full of wage theft, it’s understandably fast becoming so.


I must write these stories, or we don’t eat. If the economy collapses further, or if the dictator and his cabal win, it won’t matter. In the first place, I’ll be so busy trying to keep us fed and housed I won’t have time to think; in the second, they’ll come for me sooner or later. Privilege will insulate me, but only to a point.

In the meantime, I have to survive, keep my kids fed, keep the dogs in kibble. Focusing enough to work with that uncertainty hanging overhead is a terrifying daily effort. I can barely imagine–or maybe I can’t imagine at all–what it’s like for those with less luck and privilege than my own sweet self.

Oh, hope creeps in when I least expect it, when I hug one of my children or when Boxnoggin is asleep, trusting and belly-exposed, on my blankets. Who am I kidding? Dum spiro, spero, and all that. Hope is part of the human condition. It is unbearable, yet it must be borne. Just like life itself.

I don’t want to hope. I’m tired and I want to be unsurprised, I want to never again feel that sick thump of disappointment and fear when a disaster I saw coming (and my shouted warnings of were ignored) finally arrives.

The garden–and the dogs–have no idea of our precarious situation. The dogs only know Mum’s upset, of course, and they try to soothe.

I try to let them. And I don’t want to hope, but I suppose I must try to. As Toki says in Princess Mononoke, “We’re not dead yet, Kuroku, we’ll manage somehow.”

Gods grant it be so.

Imaginary Cats

I’ve gone back to Neko Atsume lately, because… honestly, who wouldn’t want to? Sprawling on my office floor with the dogs while feeding entirely imaginary cats is one of the few things that doesn’t make my heart hurt right now.

Stay as safe as you can, my friends, and take whatever self-care you can, in whatever fashion you can. I am braced for the worst, but hoping for the best.

Hope is an agony. But it’s better than the alternative.