Candy Scrabble

Might even be a bingo!

Our bowl of Halloween candy (just visible near the top of the photo) contained bite-size Snickers. Naturally, right about the time the first sugar rush hit I got a bright idea, started fishing them out and made a whole word. My daughter groaned–the game was afoot–then started digging. My son gave a chortle and dove in to help.

We’d’ve gotten more if we hadn’t been dipping into the bowl all afternoon. Still, the shout of joy each time we finished a word was inordinately satisfying. Four and three-quarters isn’t a bad score for this game, and we celebrated with pizza and another delicious, delicious sugar rush.

It’s been a helluva week, my friends. We’re on the downhill slide, and there might even be some candy left. Chin up, machetes out, chocolate on our chins–we’re ready.


Knife-Edge, Smoke

A smoky dawn–not nearly so red as other years’ haze, and we’re not having the ash fall in this part of the county. Eastward it’s a mess, naturally, and we’re all watching the evacuation orders carefully. There’s not much risk in the precise place our particular house is, but we’re preparing to offer shelter if necessary.

I like helping people, but I hate that it’s necessary because of greedy corporate bastards frying the planet. At least there are some competent folks in disaster response, and at least this is happening after some of the infrastructure repair money has been applied. So here I sit, trembling on the knife edge of “thank the gods this isn’t happening two years ago.” And they say there will be rain by the end of the week.

Gods willing and the creek don’t fail completely, to coin a phrase.

Having to just sit and wait is a particular type of hell. Sartre covered the most common type, naturally, but I think a case could be made that having to hold oneself ready and braced for the next punch is just as awful.

In any case, I sent off the revised Cold North. Revision brain still has me in its mushy, Swiss-cheese grip. I’ll probably do some narration today, since I can get that done in 20min chunks and reading aloud doesn’t use any creation or revision muscles. I do have to get a thorough top-to-bottom reread of Hell’s Acre in, since we’re on the last half of the last book. That duology might not ever be published; writing it all through pandemic has done the story a bit of disservice. Certain passages remind me of how upset I was while writing them.

I should also get the monthly newsletter planned. There’s all sorts of things to talk about, from That Damn Werelion Book to this month’s sale(s) to the upcoming release. I’m fighting the imposter syndrome which always arrives after I finish a draft or revision, letting the wave pass over and through me. I know it’s just the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion of finishing a large project, and snapback is natural.

It sucks each time.

If I’m very good today, I’ll allow myself another episode or two of Love Like the Galaxy. Leo Wu’s cape game is on point the entire way through, and I’m low-key obsessed with the entire story. I have to set myself some arbitrary goal to accomplish before I can watch more, though. That way the work will get done and I’ll get a double dopamine hit of watching a drama and knowing I made it to a benchmark. Gaming one’s own brain chemistry is the only way to survive, my friends.

If I can just get through until dusk I’ll call it a win. At least it won’t be 80F today. Summer keeps attempting to burn, but the harvest goddess has probably had about enough of All This. I roundly concur.

Let us embark upon Monday, my beloveds. At least by evening we should have some breathable air…

Autumn Shift

Slowly swam into consciousness this morning; my sleep was heavy as it has not been for weeks. I knew why when I lay still and listened.

Rain! Tapping at the roof, but not hissing through the leaves–they were already too wet. A good soaking has descended from heaven, trickling through the gutters, beading up on the freshly sealed deck, replacing some turgor pressure in tree limbs, cleaning the air, and blanketing tired dust. Now all yesterday’s activity makes sense–there were at least seven male stellar jays in the backyard most of the afternoon, screeching and carrying on amid several robins and a whole host of smaller birds. The corvids periodically came through as well, moving almost in a picket line while digging through grass and shrubbery; the squirrels were in a fury of burying anything nutlike and chasing each other away from hidden caches. Stink bugs were climbing any surface they could, a great risk while the birds were out, and it was just generally a busy rumble.

Boxnoggin is nonplussed. It took a bit of coaxing to get him out of bed, since the window is still dark. Dawn is obstructed by a pall of heavy grey–just the way I like it, in fact, the only proper way to greet that rosy-fingered goddess–and he was very nice and cozy. I rousted him for a trip to the backyard, following our usual morning protocol, and while he is very fond of habit and routine, the fact remains that he immensely dislikes rain since it is cold on his delicate paws. He gave me a startled look when the first drop hit his shoulder, then proceeded with a long-suffering sigh to attend his business before hurrying back inside. Now he’s in the living room, resentfully tongue-cleaning whatever fragments of moisture managed to reach him.

He’s not going to enjoy walkies as much as usual, but them’s the breaks.

My soul is expanding. I needed rain. And while I was rising through layers of consciousness, the solution to a particularly knotty plot problem in Cold North appeared, laid in my brain like a gift. I knew the Muse would drop it on me while I was occupied with something else; it was only a matter of time. The solution will mean a little more work, but at least I have it now.

The shift has happened. The world has tilted, and things are as they should be. The cedars are murmuring with joy, and the Venerable Fir’s boughs have started to lift again. There is even a bluejay on a handy branch along the back fence; I think it’s Ed, though he’s not screaming. He’s merely surveying his domain with a satisfied air, and probably waiting for Stede to arrive so the two of them can get into trouble with their gentleman crew.

Today holds a mountain of work. Now that I know the next solution in the revisions, it remains only to reach the particular point where it needs to be inserted. If I keep my head down and go straight through there might even be time for some narration after dinner. (The “narrate Victorian erotica with a straight face” project proceeds apace, too.) There was a Twitch outage yesterday so I couldn’t do the planned Reading with Lili, but I think I’ll do it this Friday instead of a tea.

Adaptation is the name of the game. And the title will be “Dracula, HO” because I am twelve inside.

There’s even homemade banana bread with plenty of walnuts for breakfast, once I finish coffee. I keep stopping to gaze out my office window at the inky-wet cedars, and each time I do my soul heaves another small sigh of relief and expands just that fraction more. Rain. Rain, rain, rain. Thank the gods.

Summer is over; I can begin to live–and work–again.

The Morning, With Gentlemen Jays

One of the Gentlemen Bluejays is screaming from the back fence. I’m not sure if it’s Ed or Stede, because they both produce an amazing amount of noise. There’s also a strange ratcheting cry from some bird I haven’t identified–the Merlin app wanted all sorts of personal information, and I’d rather wait for a glimpse on my own. Dawn is well underway, the smaller birds are weighing in, and I’m sure some of what I’m hearing is an early squirrel out to make a name for themselves.

By screaming. I mean, I don’t blame them.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be decent enough weather today, I’m prepping for the next Reading with Lili (I think we’re going to go straight into Dracula, since you guys like Varney well enough but are eager to move on) and this evening another story from The Pearl goes live on Reading Before Bed. I can’t believe I’m actually narrating Victorian erotica for funsies, but here we are.

Most of today will be taken up with revisions on Cold North. I want to get to the underground elven city at least, especially since I have to rework the battle there. I don’t know if I want the protagonist to see said battle, so today during walkies and the morning run I’ll have to think about the underlying structure a bit. I know exactly what I want to do, but not precisely how I want to do it. Physical movement will jar all of that free; it always does.

It will be nice to run again. I’m antsy and cranky, since the weekend was full of work and yesterday was taken up with sealing the deck and some Hell’s Acre. I don’t mind either, and the deck sorely needed attention. Of course if I hadn’t pushed to get it done we’d be having buckets of rain right now, but since I did push, I’m sure the autumn deluges will hold off for some time. Because that’s just how things work.

Boxnoggin has trotted down the hall once already to nose at my ankle and get some skritches. He is fully aware that brekkie is next on the morning docket, then it’s time for a long-ish ramble. He’s taken over Bailey’s herding and supervisory responsibilities to a certain extent, and as I’ve been typing this the morning chorus has faded. The sun has cleared the horizon by now–in between sentences I’ve been taking care of administrivia and other early morning tasks, getting my fingers ready for another day full of typing.

Though I can still hear one of the Gentlemen Jays screaming from a neighbor’s yard, and the twittering of smaller birds in the cedar. “Quiet” is only a relative term in the Kingdom of Backyard.

Happy Tuesday, my beloveds. We’ve got a long way to go, and short time to get there–a little Jerry Reed for you, since I’m trying to get a couple other earworms out of my skull–so I suppose I’d best slither off my office chair and get started.

Sealant, Dawn

It’s that lovely time of year when the axial tilt pushes sunrise later and later. There’s a line of rosy cloud in the east, and the cedars are black shadows against strengthening light. The coffee is hot and tastes marvelous, and though I’ve never been a morning person I’ve never minded the dawn.

I just usually like to be heading to bed as it rises. Shift-change, you could call it.

I ran a pressure washer for the first time yesterday, cleaning off the deck. It was incredibly satisfying to see the grunge and bits of moss lift away. Today I’ll slop some sealant on the whole thing, possibly with the help of a child or two, and then I can wait for the rains with something approaching sanguinity. It will be satisfying to see the first downpour of the season bead up on freshly sealed decking, and that will extend its life a little longer. Or at least, so I hope–replacing that sort of thing is a bitch, and we just did the roof.

One can be fully aware of being lucky to have a house, and also mildly frustrated with the constant rounds of maintenance. Circle of life, and all that.

In between, there’s a conversation that needs to happen in Hell’s Acre. Gemma needs to figure out what to do with her almost-father and wounded “uncle”; the former will not make it easy and the latter is having a full-blown religious crisis, so that’ll be fun. Fortunately, I think Avery’s going to start taking what he considers his responsibilities seriously indeed. If I can get that and the deck sorted, I’ll consider today a win.

Might even record another narration for the saucy channel. I can’t believe I’m doing this with my life, but it pleases me so I’m going to continue. I think I’ll finish the “stories” in The Pearl first, then do a few episodes where I narrate the poetry–some of which is actually quite hilarious, if one likes dick jokes. I mean, I’m neutral on dick limericks myself, despite my love for Galadriel (who learned the art of old from Varda) but I admire the sheer amount of “commit to the bit”. It’s surprisingly fun to keep a straight face while reading antique erotica.

Tomorrow it’s back to the regular schedule, especially a morning run. Giving my body some time off shouldn’t mean I use it in other ways which make it just as sore, right? My forearms are a bit unhappy from the pressure washer’s reverb, and my neck could really use some stretching and a little rest. Maybe I should shoehorn some yoga in later.

I’d say “getting old sucks” but it’s actually kind of awesome. Even if I suspect I’ll need a handful of ibuprofen by dusk.

The birds have noticed the accelerating dawn, and there’s a Boxnoggin to walk before I can start splashing sealant everywhere. I’m down to the last few swallows of coffee and the neighbors’ sprinklers are going off. The day is officially underway.

See you around.

Rain, Immanent

The Demon's Librarian

I spent a great deal of time yesterday catching up with a few things like reading Varney the Vampyre to you madcaps (which will be up on YouTube later today) and narrating the first episode of The Pearl. Then I was playing with Filmora to get the video component all arranged, and things just mushroomed.

It was all necessary catch-up, but now I feel behind. Or even more behind than I did, which is saying something. I may even (gasp!) have to telescope down some of the projects I’m juggling, or stop doing the weekly teas, or…I dunno. I like the mix of stuff I have going on right now, but I also feel a tiny bit overwhelmed.

Waiting until the caffeine soaks in is a good idea. Rolling out of bed and popping back into video editing “just for a few minutes” has done me no favors at all. But at least the day’s work is cut out for me–loading subscription stuff since I’ve lost all the work-ahead cushion I had there, figuring out the conversation between Gemma, Avery, Sampson, the Greatfather, and possibly Brother Jacob, continuing revisions on Cold North, and various other tasks. I might be able to squeeze in some more recording time near the end of the day, or after dinner.

I can’t believe my life now includes “narrating Victorian spankings”, but here we are.

At least it’s a lovely grey morning. Boxnoggin is napping, since he hasn’t heard the sigh that means I have lifted my coffee mug and found it empty. Once I make that habitual, unconscious noise he’ll haul himself up, stretch, and trot down the hall to nose me in the direction of brekkie. He’s been eager for walkies all week, and very tired when we get home afterwards.

The birds have been acting like rain is imminent–short flutters from one branch to the next, singing particular twittering arias, and just generally being excitable. The cedars are dancing in a way that means rain soon too, and the squirrels are busily burying everything resembling food they can lay their tiny claws on. There have been bursts of petrichor, too…

…but no actual precipitation yet. The clouds simply don’t have the oomph for it. We’re so close, it’s maddening. And yet I need to get the deck sorted before it gets too damp and we’re not having bloody hot days anymore, so I should be grateful for those (rather large) mercies.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print, I suppose. There is one lone swallow of coffee left in the mug and I can almost sense Boxnoggin’s ears pricking, ready to catch that involuntary sigh. I suppose getting started on the day is in order.

Courage, my friends. It’s only a Tuesday, and we outnumber it…

Cheese and Hilarity

Super cheesy.

For about three weeks the talk chez nous has been about the existence of this particular item. So, naturally, the Princess picked some up at work before meeting me to finish grocery shopping. We arrived home and immediately put a pot of water on the stove.

The entire household gathered to put away groceries (the kids), actually cook the damn thing (me), and to get entirely underfoot while wriggling with excitement (Boxnoggin). Things were very crowded and I’m not entirely sure where the bacon went, but that’s a problem for another day.

Anyway, we shared out our lunchtime portions of very, very orange glop. Child-me would have been delighted; adult me was nonplussed.

“It’s the aftertaste,” my son said solemnly, after we’d tasted it. “Yep, definitely the aftertaste.”

“Something that smells like this should be crunchy,” my daughter added.

Naturally I focused not on the mild observation but on fixing a perceived problem. “I guess if we scattered real Cheetos atop it? And…” I paused thoughtfully to take another bite. “…I dunno, I guess if we got really high, then this would be great.”

“It’s definitely weed food,” the Princess agreed.

The Prince is a straight-edge, but he nodded in agreement. “The problem is there’s just not enough in the package.”

In short, we agreed that it would take two or three boxes to make a decent lunch or dinner, that it needed some crunch, and that regular ol’ Kraft with actual Cheetos scattered on top would be just as good when it came to weed food but we are absolutely not under any circumstances allowing the Flamin’ Hot variety into the house. I advanced the idea that adding frozen peas at the end of the pasta-cooking step might be in order to add at least something healthy, and both kids groaned even though that was a childhood favorite. Boxnoggin got a few cheesy pasta curls in his bowl, promptly swallowed them whole, and looked at us with such an expression of patent surprise. The hilarity was total, especially when the conversation turned to the street value of Cheeto-dust flavor packets. (The phrase “Good gods, I’m not snorting that,” was tossed about with abandon.)

All in all, it was $2 well spent–not bad, for almost an hour’s worth of laughter. I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds, and hope you get a chance to share something funny with your loved ones.