Claw, In Moss

Something was climbing here.

This is my favorite photo lately. A creature was clearly attempting to go up, and Boxnoggin was very interested in whatever it smelled like. His paw could have fit comfortably in the mark, so it could’ve been a dog or a local coyote–though I think the latter might have all moved into the hills for winter hunting. On the other hand, that particular stack of boulders has plenty of nooks and crannies for rodent life, and whoever was climbing may have been in pursuit of a snack.

I’m not feeling well today, so there will not be a Reading with Lili this week. Fret not, though–older episodes are on YouTube for your delectation. It’s a bit of a drag since I was looking forward to nerding out about Murakami Haruki today, but it’s better to wait until conditions improve, as it were.

On the bright side, we finally made it to Friday. In a few weeks this year will be behind us too; I am still stuck in the fluid weirdness of pandemic time.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Be kind to each other–and yourselves.

Boxnoggin Bartleby

Woke up with the Decemberist’s Yankee Bayonet playing in my head. It’s on the Gallow & Ragged soundtrack, but the sea-shanty aspects of it also always make me think of HOOD. It’s the sort of song Alastair Crenn and Jeremy would hum while on the rails, and Alladal would play with for a performance in one of Sharud’s many kultur-dives. I think Ged would know it, certainly, and might even think of it while dreaming of resting in Marah’s arms.

Some songs make lateral connections between stories for me, a type of musical connective tissue. And there’s no doubt it’s a catchy tune.

It’s the first day of December, so holiday stuff is in full swing. Which means I’ll be hiding at home for the foreseeable future unless absolutely forced to go somewhere. The amount of unhappiness and tension swirling around scrapes against all my nerve endings, mixing with childhood trauma. When I was young, this time of year was always mounting, deadly anticipation of the worst until the inevitable explosion, and I still can’t fully relax.

There are bright spots. I’ll be busy, head-down in a revision I’d rather not do but it’s paid work so that’s fortunate. The Jolene, Jolene story may–may–have found a home, we’ll see. If I bring all my engines to bear I might also get the second season of Hell’s Acre to at least zero draft status by New Year’s, which will give me comfortable running room to prepare the next serial. And I have a really fun sale planned for you guys, going until Boxing Day–but more about that tomorrow, I’m slightly behind myself this morning. (Or ahead. Not sure.)

The forecast is muttering about snow, but that’s probably just up in the hills. Here we only get wintry mix, as a rule, and I should’ve named Boxnoggin “Bartleby” instead, because he would really prefer not to, especially while it’s raining. While he’s inside he cannot wait for walkies, but once we actually get outside he is incensed that I would force him “to do such a thing, Mother, how dare!” Then, when we arrive home, he goes to one of his (several, cushioned, very comfortable) beds (including my own) and curls up, giving me super reproachful glances every time I walk by. For the rest of the day getting him to go outside for loo breaks is a Grand Production of Preferring Not To, Mother, Thanks Very Much, and I am clearly the worst pet owner in the world for forcing him to unload outside and return to a nice warm house. By tomorrow morning the entire experience will have left his empty but surprisingly thick skull wholesale and the cycle will begin anew.

This dog, I swear. I will never lack for laughter while he’s around.

In any case, Boxnoggin Bartleby complained all during his first loo break of the day but has since forgotten it and visited my office twice now, eager to move me toward breakfast and walkies. He’ll realize his mistake as soon as we step outside, I’m sure. Right now he is ensconced at my office door, gazing intently at me. I can feel the weight of his expectations against my shoulder, not to mention the side of my head.

Off we go then, upon the merry-go-round of canine amnesia. There are even several leaf blowers hard at work in the neighborhood–the music of autumn’s ending, indeed. Most of the leaves are down, except for that one willow tree…

…but that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

See you around.

Stuck on Vesuvius

Wintry mix hissing through the fir branches and slitherbumbling along the roof are mixing uneasily with the documentaries on Pompeii I’ve been watching recently–in particular, this eight-minute museum short, which shows how a time-capture of the disaster might have looked. I don’t know why my brain is stuck on Vesuvius, but I suppose it’s necessary to feed something down in the subconscious. I’ve learned to just go with whatever rabbit-hole interest pops up (within some kind of reason, of course, or I’d never do anything else) because sooner or later, it ends up being useful.

Maybe it’s the news about Mauna Loa’s recent activity? I don’t know. Either way, the Muse has decided she wants to know more about the disaster in 79AD. It’s likely something similar might work its way into a story soon.

Boxnoggin has forgotten about dry summer days, but he is not quite ready to halt complaining about the damp just yet. It’s the same every year–it takes him weeks to adjust when the rains finally come in, and if we get truly chilly winter conditions he grouses a bit. If it’s too icy walkies will be severely shortened, in deference to his tender paws. Now, you might ask, why not get him doggie shoes?

My beloveds, this dog is a drama queen. You simply cannot imagine the stunts he will pull if I ask him to wear something protective on his dainty widdle feet, although he will also complain endlessly about muck or puddles–when he’s not trying to drink from the latter. He is a creature of much paradox, our Lord van der Sploot.

So far, Monday has Monday’d so hard it has continued into Tuesday. There’s a volcanic disaster filling my head, I did four polite business correspondence emails before coffee, the caffeine still hasn’t soaked in but that could be a function of nothing really settling well last night. The last time I remember glancing at the clock is around 3am; I hesitate to say I was conscious at that time but at the same time, I was certainly not asleep. Or if I was, I was dreaming about rolling over and looking at the clock, so that’s hardly restful.

Once my inbox calms down I might be able to attempt some breakfast. I’m considering an extra jolt of coffee just to get me vertical enough to take Boxnoggin for his morning ramble. If the java doesn’t manage to kick-start me maybe the weather will.

If I get through a reasonable amount of work today, I might even reward my tired brain with more Pompeii documentaries. There was a special effects extravaganza masquerading as a movie with Kit Harington about the whole affair too, which I might even take a peek at. I could do with some cinematic volcano violence, apparently. In service to the Muse, I have watched much worse.

There. The plan for the day is sorted. Now all that remains is to get the fuck away from the glowing box on my desk and begin it.

Oof. Easier said than done…

Necromancer’s Monday

I spent the weekend dragging a dead series out of its grave. Difficult work, involving a lot of squelching and nausea–but what the hell, I’m sometimes a necromancer, it’s all part of the game. At least I’ve done it before, most notably with Steelflower, so it’s not like it’s my first time.

The weather has turned with a vengeance. I can’t believe it was 80F in October, and now we’re edging down to heavy frost, nights lingering near freezing. The garden needs to be put to bed, but it’s a Monday. I’ve other things to occupy me today–like said shambling corpse of a series, resurrected but not entirely rejuvenated. Frankenstein ain’t got nothing on me, my friends.

I spent whatever time I wasn’t heaving over my office wastebasket doing chores, and getting around 2k of the Jolene story written. Three organic mentions of that song means the Universe has decided it’s time and I think I can do it in six scenes. At least that’s the kernel of the story, and I can add more on either side of the high beats if the structure ends up needing it. I don’t know why I’m being attacked by this short when I have a bloody shambling undead fantasy hulk to deal with and I really need to do a revise on the second Sons of Ymre, but if I’m not drowning in work I’m not really happy so…here we are.

I mean, nobody wants to see me with idle hands. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

The light has changed, too. While it was smoke-hazy and way too warm for October, any sunshine had an eerie apocalyptic cast. Not like the bad smokes the previous two years, just enough to make the little atavistic muscle right under one’s occipital ridge tighten. Now the sky has paled and any sunlight is a thinner gold, especially when it falls on frost-laden roofs and the steam rises. The trees are merrily changing their leaves; next will come shedding them entirely. The ones falling so far are dry and spicy instead of wet-sludgy since the rains have given us a moment or two to think about things. I’d prefer rain, of course, but this is acceptable. Especially since the chill generally means I can run without dodging weird men on the sidewalk.

The only downside is that other dog walkers will be out in the clear light, enjoying the lack of humidity. I like that just fine, but Boxnoggin loses his damn head. I often have to pick him up by his harness-handle, scolding him. “This is why nobody wants to play with you…you’re being a big bully…don’t you feel ridiculous now? If you wouldn’t scream you could probably say hello…no, screaming it is! Fine. Scream all you want, it won’t change the outcome.”

Poor fellow. Four-plus years of work have made him much calmer, but the instant he sees another dog (who isn’t Bailey, since she put up with exactly zero nonsense from him) he turns into a screaming toddler. Some part of it is probably resource-guarding, but I think he’s just one of those dogs whose circuits fuse at the slightest provocation. A squirrel, a cat, another dog, and his cranium is the equivalent of an action movie explosion. I have to walk away, grimly not looking while carrying sixty-plus pounds of writhing canine.

There are worse jobs. It’s hilarious, I will never be as excited over anything as this dog is for the hose, a fleeing cat, or another dog friend. Or walkies. Right now he’s got his nose pressed to my ankle and is huffing deeply, on the principle that this once got me off my office chair and moving brekkie-ward, so he’s going to try it every time now just in case.

Monday is full of frost-laden light and the sound of delighted canine snuffling. My marching orders have been given and my sock is a little damp, so I bid you a pleasant adieu, my beloveds.

Imperfect Strategy

A clear chilly Tuesday–not quite cold, but getting there–has dawned. I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee, a George Strait song playing inside my head, and decided I had to use Ronnie Milsap to clear things out. Milsap reliably works if I have a country-themed earworm, and has ever since I was a kid.

I don’t even know. I’m wired weird, but we all suspected as much.

Our state does mail-in ballots, and everyone in the house is of voting age and registered. We all went through the paper voter guide last week, went to our different rooms to fill in little boxes, and I took the sealed envelopes to the local ballot box since I don’t trust USPS with deJoy still in charge. (Why has that man not been booted out? Why?) There were pickup trucks parked nearby, and I watched each one carefully, ready to get the fuck out of there if right-wing goons appeared.

It was a sobering experience.

Now we wait–always my very favorite thing! I hate not being able to do anything while danger creeps nearer. I have little to zero hope, of course. Every time I’ve dared to hope over the past six-seven years, I get kicked right in the teeth. I’m done with that.

So, today will be spent trying to keep myself occupied with work. The new cover for Spring’s Arcana, the page proofs–seventy-five of them knocked off yesterday, only 293 to go–and wordcount for the NaNo novel, correspondence, other things to keep my fingers busy and my heart from hurting. It’s an imperfect strategy, since my heart will ache no matter what I find to keep myself busy with, and working will be like swimming against a riptide. Still, I’ve got to try.

The alternative is even grimmer.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my dears. We’re all reeling after years of historical-grade shocks. The wonder is that we’re all still trying to work, sparking and hissing with static, desperately transmitting and receiving despite All This. I think we all deserve a cuppa and a pat on the back, not to mention a nap. And possibly a whole box of cookies.

Que sera, sera, and all that. At least we’ve got each other, and a few stories to tell around whatever small, wan fire we’re clustering for warmth. It’s my job to tell the tales, no matter what else is going on. And it’s also my job to walk Boxnoggin, who could not care less about human politics. He’s got other concerns, and would very much like me to do something about them.

Needs must, when the devil drives–or when the dog needs a ramble. Off I go, my beloveds.

See you around.

Puzzle Dog

Good working days have been happening lately. I’m almost afraid to inhale too deeply lest this great fortune be noticed by the world, which will certainly snatch it away. Or at least, that’s the feeling. I’m doing my level best not to look at the news cycle, and not to leave the bloody house–I know, that last bit is me anyway, but I’m turning it into a requirement instead of a preference. All I want is to be left alone to write my horrid little stories.

We’ve also found a job for Boxnoggin. Well, another job, since he’s already responsible for things like holding down the floor, yelling out the front window any time there’s activity on the street, “protecting” me during walkies, and being a giant doofus. (All of which, it must be said, he excels at.) But he wanted more, so I dug out one of Bailey’s old puzzle toys.

Now, Miss B was a smart dog. She only needed once with a toy to figure it out, and to remember. Max, of course, used pure brute force on anything puzzling, so anything with parts smaller than fist-size had to be whisked away from his gaping jaws. Boxnoggin, however, lies between these two poles. He isn’t as bright as Bailey, but he’s also not as dim as Max–gods love that bulldog, but his brain was so occupied with piloting his unwieldy corkscrew body through space, there was little to nothing left over for any complex cognitive task.

All of which means dear ol’ van der Sploot is at just about the perfect amount of mental horsepower to get a lot of fun out of this particular puzzle. He has to get an upside-down plastic cup out of its socket in order to turn the top disc of the thing and gain the other half of the kibble inside, and so far he’s accidentally solved it, occasionally deliberately solved it, and forgotten the trick to the solution each and every time. The half-hour of crunching, slobbering, nosing, and pawing wears him out so badly he naps for the rest of the day, and when he finally solves this toy reliably I’ll switch him to another puzzle until he forgets the first.

It’s good to have a plan.

We’re all amazed, frankly. The Princess can’t get over how quiet and well-behaved Boxnoggin is after a session spent dislodging kibble from the damn thing, and he apparently loves it, to judge by how hard he begs for it to be filled and set on the floor. The Prince is fascinated, watching Box try to figure the damn thing out. (And helping a bit when he gets frustrated, because in this house we don’t let people flounder if we can help them.) I’m just happy for the peace and quiet; I thought we were going to have to do four training sessions a day with Bailey gone.

She kept Box corralled, and while he was thinking of weird things for her to herd him out of, he wasn’t getting into trouble. Much.

I suppose I should finish my coffee and get him walked–another important component of keeping him out of mischief. There are bergenias to get planted as well today, since my writing partner was kind enough to break off a few clumps for me. They do well in Pacific Northwest conditions, and I might even have one inside since I’ve got the grow lights going and a little room on the coffee table. There’s wordcount to be done today, and some CEs landed too. Those are afternoon problems, and I’ve a whole morning to get through.

I will never be as happy with anything as Boxnoggin is with a handful of kibble in an elaborately designed plastic dish. Still, left to myself, I am content.

Now if I could just get the world to cooperate…

Zorro Friday

Please note that yesterday, due to a combination of calendar and technical malfunction, I accidentally sent a notification for next month’s sale. Sorry about that, my bad–we’ll have to wait for September!

Look at this Very Good Gentledoge.

This is Zorro, the CCO (Chief Canine Officer) over at Belle Books. Belle is a great romance press; they took over ImaJinn when the head publisher there passed on. They’ve always been wonderful to me; I adore their entire office staff, especially the great Mx Ireland, who does graphics for the monthly sales and sent me this photo a little while ago.

Zorro’s likes include treats, skritches, and long afternoons spent reading. I’m not sure if he has any dislikes, other than the lack of treats and skritches. But I do know Zorro is a gentledoge, a scholar, and a Very Good Boi. And it looks like he has excellent taste in books!

Yesterday I read the rest of The Eye of Argon on-camera, and today’s Tea with Lili will be all about writing romance. Before that I have to walk Boxnoggin (who would very much like to make Zorro’s acquaintance, but an entire continent lies between them, alas) and run my own sorry corpse. At least the heat has abated somewhat, though we did not get more than a light misting of anemic rain.

We’re finally at Friday, my beloveds. I wish you a very pleasant day, and an even more pleasant weekend.