Frost, Fog, Head

There’s a thick layer of frost on every roof–well, it is still January–and a heavy fog is closing over the neighborhood at eerie speed. We’re having some sort of weird weather event to match the summer’s many record-breakers; there’s a stagnation warning that bodes ill for running and the fog is coming in waves as the air thickens, clotting like cream.

It’s not rain, and I can already feel some heaviness in my lungs. I’m unamused.

My weekend started out well enough, but halfway through Saturday I was struck with the worst headache I’ve had in literal decades. It might’ve been a migraine, though I haven’t had those since before the Princess was born. It certainly had the pre-strike aura and associated vision problems, which of course irrationally convinced me I had caught the plague and micro-clotting had stolen my eyesight. I crawled hopefully into bed with a posset of self-medication, which seems to have worked.

Despite that, much of the housework was accomplished Sunday while I was still weak and shaky, and this morning I’m at about eighty percent fighting trim. Better than nothing, and enough to get me started on the day. I am no longer deadly convinced I have the plague, which is a blessing since there are no tests to be found for love or money and the pittance of them coming from state and federal authorities, even if they had arrived (three years into the pandemic, wow), would need to be reserved for a greater emergency–like one of the children coming down with something impersonating a bad head cold.

I can still smell everything, and could during the maybe-migraine, which was a mixed blessing indeed. I am hesitating to call it an actual migraine, because the gods know the last thing I need is those coming back. I’m going to choose to call it just a really severe stress reaction, like the burnout I had last year which sent me to bed for eighteen hours a day, sleeping as if I was being paid to be unconscious.

The mist is still attempting to smother the world, thickening as I type. The dogs don’t really care for it; Boxnoggin walks as close to me as possible when it’s foggy, and B is only restrained from circling us by the leash, which makes for fun times.

Once they’re walked they’ll settle, and I can go back to Hell’s Acre. There’s a foundry fire and a burgling of the villain’s house to write, then a rooftop battle and perhaps a trap to spring. The Muse is being cagey about the latter, but soon it’ll reach the point where she has to pony up or simply live with the decisions I make on my lonesome, and heaven knows she doesn’t like that.

I did watch the new Tragedy of Macbeth, and it was very good. No surprise there–Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are always worth the price of admission. I am not a giant Coen brothers fan–I find them very hit and miss, though when they hit it’s a resounding one indeed–so I was surprised and relieved that the staging was so simple, direct, and such a love song to silent film. The many Bergman, Artaud, and Fellini callbacks tickled me positively pink as well. All in all, I found it thrilling, and very much worth the time. The first half held me during the ramp-up of the terrible headache, and that is an achievement.

So it’s off to the races on a foggy Monday. Every once in a while a crow calls through the gloom. Probably Carl, keeping track of Sandra and Jerry. If the dogs and I get out the door before ten-thirty or so they’ll no doubt shepherd us, fearing we might lose our way as dumb earthbound things often do.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. And treat the fog with caution. We’ve all watched the horror movies, you know…

Broken Hook

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Broken, yes. Still good?

We have a set of large red cappuccino cups the kids have used as cereal bowls for decades. They’re huge, chipped, and incredibly useful. They’re also showing their age, like any beloved long-term item.

The handle broke off one of them while the kids were doing dishes. The Prince made an amazing catch, trapping the bowl between his hip and the counter with enough force to arrest its fall, but not enough to dent or chip it.

Bowl’s still in use, and I think I’m going to hot-glue magnets to either end of the handle. I can use it to hang things on the fridge, or it might go on the space above the cupboards where I daubed magnetic primer and then chalkboard paint. We’ll see.

I keep making new things out of broken bits. Some of them work, some…well, at least I gave it a try.

Have a good weekend, beloveds.

Damp and Dry

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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.

Temporal Slip

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I was convinced for most of yesterday that although the day was definitely named Monday, it was Tuesday in all else. Which should surprise nobody, pandemic time being what it is, but it means it was near noon when I realized, “no, the plumbers aren’t coming today, it’s a federal holiday and FURTHERMORE not the day they scheduled,” so…yeah.

That rhythmic thudding you heard? That was the sound of me banging my head on my desk. It’s highly therapeutic, though painful.

I had all sorts of work planned, but nothing happened. Sitting and staring at paying projects is not producing any appreciable wordcount. (The book keeps refusing to write itself, so rude.) The fanfic proceeds better, but I don’t want even that now. I’m pretty sure I’m just in the incubation period for a spate of furious activity once the dam breaks, and this is just a necessary frustration before the iceberg calves.

But it’s so goddamn annoying. And with all the other stress, my nerves are on their very last fibre.

I am hopeful today’s plumber visit will be the very last. They’re very nice fellows and I like them, but strangers visiting in the midst of a pandemic is bad for all of us. If this work could possibly be put off I would–but at the same time, our country is being held hostage by antimaskers and antivaxxers, so this isn’t going to be finished anytime soon. We’re on the third year of this bullshit, so the things I’ve put off “until it’s safer” have now grown several heads and become critically pressing.

“Safer.” What a word. I am beginning to expect that will never happen, and it disturbs me mightily. It’s also becoming harder and harder to keep the pandemic out of my fiction, though publishing lead times means that things I wrote well before are beginning to see the end of the pipeline now.

The lag is fascinating and I’m sure historians will have great fun dissecting it. Enduring it as an artist is much less amusing. Not quite prepared to put this massive trauma into fiction yet, thanks, especially as I am extremely uncertain our household will survive either its primary OR its knock-on effects. And isn’t that a lovely thought for a Tuesday morning?

At least we still have absurdity. The world is mad, might as well laugh in bleak wonder at its manifestations. Fiction has to “make sense,” while Real Life is unendingly fuckered-up and divorced from any such requirement.

Anyway, I’d best walk the dogs. The trio of local crows depending on Boxnoggin for amusement tend to fly away around ten-thirty, having other business in the neighbourhood, and they (plus Boxnoggin) will probably be sad if they don’t get their daily interaction.

See? Absurdity. It’s all absurdity, all the time. Might as well laugh, because screaming takes too much energy and I’m bloody exhausted.

See you around.

Monday’s Scorecard

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haha, no

So the plumbers were out again yesterday. The problem appeared to be fixed. I walked the dogs, took a shower, made lunch, letting the fix sit and think about things.

Maybe that was my mistake.

Because as soon as I washed dishes after lunch I found the problem was, indeed, not fixed. I gather this happens a lot with plumbing, but dear gods and garters, I was unamused.

To put it mildly.

At least the appliance repairman who came out to deal with the dishwasher (an entirely separate problem) proved effective (so far). He listened carefully to my description of dishwasher events, nodding thoughtfully, and said, “I think I know what’s going on, based on that.”

I learned that my dishwasher isn’t plugged in but hard-wired through the floor, and in any case I wouldn’t have needed to take it out to look behind it in order to fix the damn thing. The problem appeared to be some shifting as the door was opened and closed, moving some padding, which put pressure on some wires, and is actually quite a common complaint. “Happens a lot, especially with these new types. Let me just run a few more tests to make sure there’s not another problem hanging out in there…”

Then, when he had run all the tests, he peered at the top of the frame and said, “The installers didn’t…huh.”

“The last guy to own this house was a Do-It-Yourselfer,” I offered, a bit faintly. I couldn’t believe things were going so well, and was braced for disaster. “They didn’t put those screws in because of the countertop, you see how it…”

“Oh yeah, I see,” he said, in a tone half wonder, half confirmed-suspicion. “Seen this before too. Let me just…”

He dug in a capacious assortment of screws, washers, nails, and other tiny bits (all neatly organized in a plastic container), found what he wanted, and badda-boom, had the metal tabs at the top screwed into the underside of the counter, with zero fuss. “Now it won’t tip, and that stuff below might not work loose again. But just in case…” He picked up his phone and started tapping. “I’m gonna add notes to your file, so if the problem isn’t just those wires getting pinched we can replace the whole circuit board under there. Sometimes the wire nuts heat up and things get iffy. Don’t you worry, ma’am. It’s going to be all right.”

Have you ever wanted to burst into tears when a stranger says that? Dearly beloveds, I longed to dissolve into sobs. However, I swallowed them, put on a professional face, and made the fellow some coffee, because as he said, “I love caffeine. Love it. Best thing that ever happened to the world.”

I sent off Jake the Appliance Repair Gumshoe with a quad-shot of espresso, cut with some heavy cream. He was most grateful, and gave me a cheery thumb’s-up before pulling out of the driveway, leaving me to my own devices with a (hopefully) fully repaired dishwasher, at least.

So the score for Monday was: Plumbers 0/2, third game next week; Appliance Repairman undefeated (so far); Yours Truly, don’t ask, I’m trying not to scream.

I know these are first-world problems and others are dealing with far, far more. There’s a load of numbing, crushing in guilt in this being the damn straw that breaks the camel’s back and sends me raving into the desert night. I am trying like hell to find the funny side of this, of anything, because once I start laughing it’ll be all right.

To that end I watched Deadpool again last night, and the cartoon-y violence was 100% what I needed. I feel bad for that being the thing that helped, in however small a dose, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

The dishwasher seems to be holding up. Each time I press the start button it’s with a whispered prayer. It drains below the leaky portion of the below-sink pipes, too, so that’s a tiny victory. Of course we have buckets to catch the drips, but that’s hardly the point.

Anyway, I’m still fighting. I’m trying to find the funny side in all this, or indeed in anything. At least I can escape a little today, burying myself in work since there will be no strangers visiting. Getting ready for polite social interaction is a burden I can well do without at this point. Just let me burrow into my hole.

So I’m off to get some brekkie and walk the dogs. No matter what else is going on, they need their walkies, dammit, and the rain means we probably won’t see anyone else as we amble. That will be nice.

Hang in there, everyone. Sooner or later things will get better. They have to. I’m not prepared to accept any other outcome.

Over and out.

Year Three Begins

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The sound of shatter.

It’s a brand new year!

The dishwasher has stopped working, there’s a leak under the kitchen sink, and the tire pressure sensor light is on, but it’s a new year. Amazon has decided to start penalizing authors because e-thieves are pirating their books, but it’s a new year. The CDC has decided to sacrifice lives for the economy as if they’re Republicans, losing what little moral and scientific authority they had left, but it’s a new year.

December 25th rolled around with a new item here at the Chez. The Princess picked up some cheap crockery at the dollar store, and we began the day by shattering a plate apiece, by either deceleration or hammer, on the back walk. The kids are enchanted with this, and can’t wait to do it again next year.

Why would we do such a thing? Well, holidays are…problematic, for me. Every single “holiday” I endured growing up was a nightmare of mounting pressure until the inevitable raging explosion from one of my adult caretakers. At that point, the worst had happened and all I could do was endure.

There’s a certain relaxation in, “it’s happened, all I have to do now is hunker down.” So this year, as the pressure and tension of anticipating the worst on a “holiday” mounted, I decided to do something about it. And lo, it worked.

The sound of breakage triggered the release valve, and the rest of the day was actually pretty nice. It’s the first time I’ve enjoyed Christmas in decades, frankly, and the kids were absolutely thrilled. Everyone got a plate to break, we all pitched in with the cleanup, and then there were good things to eat and a cosy blaze in the fireplace all day. The kids are bound and determined to do the same thing next year, if the pandemic doesn’t end up getting us after all.

…yeah, you can tell even my agathism is taking a beating. We’re in Year 3 of the Pandemic, after all. If one goes historically, this is the year things will get sorted (the Spanish Flu basically took three, I’m going to cover my ears and scream if anyone says, “but the Black Plague…”), at least on the epidemiological front.

I also received some…let’s call it “news”, on Boxing Day. Not unexpected, and I was prepared and braced, but it was still deeply uncomfortable and called up a lot of complex feelings. I’m not surprised things started to go haywire just afterward.

So here we are in 2022. May this year be better than the last, however incrementally. I’ve got a load of work this morning, including making bloody phone calls to get the leak under the kitchen sink sorted and the car’s tires checked. Of course everyone will be doing everything they put off last week because of the holiday, so nothing will get done in a timely manner, but that’s to be expected under current conditions.

There’s nothing to do but keep going. I sent off yet another book–the second Ghost Squad novel, Klemp’s book–last week too, very early but that’s better than late. Now I can turn my entire engines to Hell’s Acre, and also spend some time on the second Sons of Ymre book. I intend to work until it becomes an impossibility; it seems the only way through.

Welcome to the New Year, my beloveds. If all else fails, try breaking a cheap plate or two. It worked wonders for us, I’ve gotta admit.

Excelsior, and all that.

Before the (Holiday) Plunge

Blogging will be kind of spotty between now and the New Year, my friends. I’m…tired.

In any case, it’s Christmas Adam (we call it that because it comes before Christmas Eve, har de har har, old joke, STILL FUNNY) and I’m taking a deep breath before one of the most stressful events of the year–and that’s saying something, given how 2020 and 2021 have both turned out.

There’s a lot to be grateful for, but I just want some rest. If I could sleep until January 1, I would not mind a single bit; for one thing, it seems like a great way to make a dent in ever-mounting pandemic exhaustion.

Alas, it’s not an option, either biologically (having to get up to wee rather destroys the plan, no matter how tight-knit said plan is otherwise) or practically (the kids, not to mention the dogs, would be Quite Unnerved). So we struggle on, boats against the current and all that.

I hope you have a lovely holiday, beloveds. I hope it is full of good things to eat, low to no stress, and all the things you want but nothing you don’t. I may be about before the year turns over, or I might not. I suppose I’m saying “don’t expect much”, and if that isn’t a bumper sticker for the past couple years, I don’t know what is.

See you around.