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.

Plausible or Otherwise

I finished Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter last night, and closed the book with a precise, leaking anger. My grandfather was in the Korean War, and he would never talk about it–at least, not sober, not until the last time I saw him before he died. “It was cold, and it was hell,” was all he’d say.

Reading how the lower ranks were betrayed by MacArthur’s racist hubris and supercilious, malignant narcissism (and how Almond faithfully echoed both) is fury-making, especially with the current malignant narcissist in the White House. And, frankly, now that we’ve had decades of the Republicans toadying to the rich and attempting to roll back the New Deal, it’s enough to solidify my disdain for anyone calling themselves Republican at all. You absolutely know what you’re doing when you self-identify as a racist piece of shit, and Republicans have for decades.

There is no deniability, plausible or otherwise, on that point.

Halberstam’s contortions to pin all the blame, all the time, on postwar Democrats were also maddening. The fact that the Republicans were stoking fear and hatred as a matter of course for their own purposes–look, they only kept McCarthy until he was damaging to Eisenhower, a centrist conservative–cannot be glossed over, but by God, Halberstam tried.

Being a white male historian must be a helluva drug. *eyeroll*

Anyway, I read it as an overview, and maybe I can read the book on the Chosin Reservoir without feeling lost. Of course I’ve set aside some books on Vietnam too, since that war reaped the foul harvest of the Korean War’s mistakes not once, not twice, but over and over again, with chasers of gratuitous careerism and racism on top of each swallow.

Along with research reading, it’s probably going to be depressing as all fuck. At least I have some Laura Kinsale and Violette Leduc set aside as rewards to take the curse off. I am in a complete state of meh, and probably will be for a while now.

*sigh* Now it’s time to take the dogs on a run and let them try to kill me. Sir Boxnoggin is dancing with impatience and whining whenever a squirrel rustles outside, and Miss B is following his lead on bad behavior. I’m glad I didn’t get her an energetic companion when she was younger, or the house might not have survived. As it is, she moderates some of his bounciness, just by sheer dint of being more experienced and tired of all the bullshit.

I know the feeling.

Over and out.

Short Hiatus

Good morning, dear Readers. I trust your weekend went, if not splendidly, then at least well. It was incredibly hot, and quite uncomfortable, but they say yesterday was the worst of it. I am left just hoping the weatherpeople are right.

I’m taking a couple days off my regular blogging schedule in order to let things settle a bit. Changes are afoot chez Saintcrow.

In the meantime, I’ll be around occasionally on Mastodon and Twitter. Odd’s last vet bills were considerable, so if you’ve wanted to pick up a subscription or one of my books, now would be an excellent time. (Leaving a review or even just a star rating at the platform of your choice would also be most welcome, if you’re so inclined.)

See you in a little while, chickadees.

Gore, Battle, Danger, As Usual

Once a month I get mild insomnia; I’m sure it’s hormonal, and I bear it with good grace because now, with the meds, it’s a monthly instead of a nightly occurrence. I settled in bed once everything had cooled off outside–around midnight, really–and read the Lazarillo de Tormes I’d managed to grab as a Norton Critical edition. I love Norton Criticals, and this one doesn’t disappoint, but I’m beginning to note a lot of homonym abuse in academic texts and translations. They can’t all be intentional; it’s just something I’m noticing. My inner editor twitches, and I have to glance up from the page.

Reading for pleasure gets kind of iffy sometimes when you’re in publishing.

Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed, unrested, and have managed a run. Miss B was ecstatic, and we stuck to shaded pavements. Still, we were both glad to get home. Someone up the street has taken out a massive cedar tree; apparently all the neighbors are intent on deforesting this hill so it slides down into the river during the next overly wet winter.1 Added to a new driveway going on, the entire street is full of mechanical noise. Whirring, buzzing, stamping, dropping, engines running. When it gets hot enough, I’ll close up the windows and turn the AC on, and that will provide some relief from the racket.

I also managed a solid 4k words yesterday, mostly in Incorruptible but a significant portion in HOOD. It feels good to be working again, even if I do still catch myself looking for Odd or surfacing from a scene to think that’s strange, he’s really quiet, what’s going on? Moving the furniture helped immensely, I’m not expecting to see him leaning against where the couch used to be or thoughtfully examining trailing geranium leaves from the coffee table.

We even got a lovely card signed by the entire vet office, with condolences for our loss. Once the card comes, I guess, that’s closure. Sometime this week or the next I’ll have to go get his ashes, the last gauntlet to run through.

For now, though, I’m crackling with dried sweat, absorbing coffee, and looking forward to another productive day. I decided to send in the demons early, to get Incorruptible off the ground. I don’t want that book to be a slow burn, I want to write gore, battle, and danger.

As usual, I guess.

Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Readers. The most dangerous time is when you’re feeling a bit better, and you think you’re cured and want to push it. Gently, softly, even when you feel like a tenuous balance has been reached. That’s all my advice for the day, use it as you will.

Over and out.

Halfway Works

Coming Home
© Kwest19 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Days and days of heat, the weather report says. Which means a lot of closing up the house and keeping the fans on. It’s not likely to cool off enough to make a difference at night, either. Miss B is sacked out on my office floor, worn out after a moderate morning run. Said run had to be uncaffeinated, because I rolled out of bed late and had to get us outside before the heat became unbearable.

My mood is perhaps best described as “sharp, don’t touch.” I have shaken off the numbness and now I am firmly in the anger stage. I am filled with fumes, and any spark will do. I am holding myself gingerly, my internal grip strong and severe, so I don’t snap at anyone I care for.

There is no Trundles asking to bask on the deck for fifteen minutes before being ushered inside to flop on cool tile. No Trundles snoring blissfully among my pillows or grousing because it’s too warm and sprawling in the hall. Come dinnertime, he’s not snuffling in corners or underfoot as I cook–Miss B can’t take up all his kitchen space and hers too. I am not in danger of tripping every third step between the two of them, and it’s strange. There is so much room.

I spent yesterday in a blaze of cleaning and rearranging furniture. Apparently grieving fills me with the desire to dust, hoover, rearrange. We also got some more concrete laid in the backyard–with no Trundles underfoot or investigating the humans’ fascinating activity for signs of something edible, it went a little more quickly than usual. His busy self was a part of everything that occurred chez Saintcrow; Miss B is content to supervise from any handy promontory, as long as I’m in sight, but Trundles wanted to be Involved.

His crate is folded up and in the garage. I didn’t have the heart to clean it. His bedding, however, is laundered and neatly folded. At some point, this week or next, I will pick up his ashes and bring them home, settle them among my pillows, and let him sleep on my bed for as long as he likes.

I told myself that if I could just get through yesterday’s cleaning, rearranging, laundry, folding, watering, and everything else, I would be okay. Not okay-okay, but…okay enough.

I’m not quite sure if it was true, but having the furniture moved helps. I am not looking at Odd’s favorite nesting-spots and feeling the black ball of tears rise in my throat. Grief is a ball bouncing in a box. Part of the gauntlet grip I hold myself in is immobility so the pain-button won’t get punched. It only halfway works, but it’s better than nothing.

At least I can settle and write today. I am not staring while my fingers idly work at the keyboard, typing and deleting random, stinking sentences. At least while I’m working I’m thinking of other things. The work is not a panacea, but it is a true companion. Sad? Write. Mad? Write. Grieving? Write. Frightened? Write.

So today, gently, I will. Soon I’ll tell you guys about the new birdfeeders, the pole that holds them, squirrels, and Crisco. It’s a funny story; it would probably have been funnier with Odd around. But squirrels–and time–stop for no man, and no bulldog either.

Over and out.

Commitment

The Princess: “Is that the Olsen Twins?”
Me: “I’m not sure…no, the tail isn’t skinny enough.”
Squirrel: *back foot slips*
The Princess: *gasps*
Me: “Oh dear…well, we know it’s a she…”
Squirrel: *slips, falls…does backflip and lands perfectly, twitches tail*
The Princess: *in awe* “It’s Batgirl.”

So now we have a boy squirrel we’ve named the Olsen Twins1 and a girl squirrel acrobat we’ve named Batgirl2. Olsen Twins has been coming back for a week to figure out how to get into the birdfeeders, but it took Batgirl to solve the quandary.

Never a dull moment around here, folks. Never.

Work, Work, Complain, Work

Jozzie & Sugar Belle The paperback edition of Jozzie & Sugar Belle is now available! I wish it was possible to do preorders for paper, but oh well. Preorders are live on the ebook editions, it will have to do.

In other news, the Amazing Stories submissions system seems to be fixed, but I wouldn’t submit to them after this whole folderol. Sanford’s Genre Gossip column is a fabulous resource, and Amazing‘s Steve Davidson’s response to his reporting was…well, let’s be charitable and call it “ill-considered”. I wouldn’t trust my work to an editor who behaved that way, frankly. I would, however, recommend Sanford’s column to anyone interested in selling to genre markets, and would even go so far as to recommend dropping some cash in his Patreon.

Anyway. It’s a bright day; there won’t be any rain while running this particular morning. Which is a shame, summer downpours are fun. I suspect, however, there will be bees. Lots of bees. They seem to find my hair as enticing as ever.

Today is also for more Rattlesnake Wind revisions. If I can get those done before the end of the month I’ll count June a win. After that, Harmony revisions need to be done, serious work on comic book scripts and serious wordcount on HOOD as well, and once I get the Harmony stuff crossed off I can shift to prepping Atlanta Bound for publication in October-November and beginning revisions on the next Steelflower book.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it, I look at that mountain and want to crawl into a hole. The avoidance stage, added to bottoming out over the past few weeks, is upon me. The lists break everything up into manageable chunks, and I should just put my head down for a while and work. The trouble is, I keep wanting to glance at what’s upcoming so I can plan, though the plan is already in place, and the paralysis of so. much. to. do. overwhelms me.

The writing is good. it’s the other parts of the process that exhaust me. Except for when a zero draft spikes for the finish and the writing wrings me out like a dishrag. One can’t ever win.

Don’t mind me, I’m just complaining into the wind. There are children to hug, dogs to pet, a run to get in, enchiladas to make tonight, and plenty of work to do. It’s like heaven, and here I am bitching. Sometimes, though, a little bit of bitching makes you appreciate just how good things really are.

And with that, dear Readers, I’m off for a run.