Rosa, Mundi

The first rose of the season was one of the reds. That side of the house is fragrant now, and the peonies have started to open their shy buds. Even the calla lilies are getting in on the act, late this year but better than never.

I generally dislike summer, if only because of the heat and that giant burning nuclear reactor in the sky attempting to drown me in cancerous rays and sweat. But–impossible to deny it–some things about summer are nice.

Good Neighbors

The lilacs are mainly blooming on our neighbors’ side of the fence, since they’re southerly of us and the trees like sun, sun, sun. I found out they’re the lady’s favorite, so that’s fortunate. I like the white ones, but I think she prefers the purple ones, which means we can each have plenty.

It’s nice when something you planted delights someone else.

Panic, But No Disco

The Bear and the Beehive
© cc0images | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Yesterday was cool, cloudy, and utterly exhausting. Not only is The Maiden’s Blade fighting me like a rabid weasel, but I’m also getting paralyzed by the fact that its deadline is approaching and I seriously doubt I’ll finish even a zero on time. It’s my own fault, since the previous book I was supposed to do for this publisher died on the vine and we had to shift to this one. So of course, when I said, “you can have ANY OF THESE OTHER BOOKS” they picked the longest, most complex one.

I don’t blame them, I kind of suspected it, and it’s nice to be working at full capacity again trying something new and even more complex than usual. But the scrabbling performance anxiety is unpleasant. A certain feature of deadlines is the almost-paralysis as one draws near, and I tend to push myself hard at the end of a zero draft anyway. It’s a double whammy.

Also, yesterday I went to a doctor’s appointment with a friend of mine. Being a calm, steadying patient advocate is something I’m apparently good at, and while I’m focusing on that I’m not thinking about other things. Unfortunately, the cumulative stress and worry smacked me with a panic attack once the appointment was over and I was heading for the grocer’s. I suppose I’ve been somewhat spoiled, since the meds brought me down from half a dozen-plus attacks daily to long stretches of weeks and months without. Apparently the habit of just focusing to get through them and not let anyone see vulnerability is still strong, since nobody even glanced twice at me all through the store. Finding out that I can still perform that feat isn’t comforting at all; I would gladly get rid of that talent born of practice if it meant I wouldn’t have panic attacks for the rest of my life.

Because they’re flat-out terrifying. Palms sweating, tunnel vision, rushing in the ears, heart pounding like a hummingbird’s wings about to explode, taste of copper, a tremor in the arms and legs one has to conceal so as not to appear weak or distracted, intensifying in random waves so one can’t brace for the next one…yeah.

Anyway, I got home without incident, the kids unloaded the groceries, and the Princess took over dinner. Just frozen pizzas, really, but it was one thing I didn’t have to do, so that was welcome. Dinner, a lot of deep breathing and some emergency meds later, I staggered to bed and collapsed.

At least the meds mean I can sleep, and not linger in a twitching twilight insomnia.

Today is for a run to work off whatever stress chemicals are still swilling around in my bloodstream, and some serious work on Maiden’s Blade. I can collapse the last two assassination attempts and torment the lady in waiting with a failure, and once I bring that arc to a close I can go back and see where the fabric of the book is hanging too slack or too taut and tweak the other arcs, adding some and reining in others, so it presents a unified fabric. Or at least, close to one, and the editor will be able to see flaws I can’t.

That’s the plan, at least. I should also leave the office window open, since Odd Trundles is upset that I won’t let him lick light sockets and has settled with his hindquarters pointed directly at me, and I know what that means. I don’t have a gas mask, so an open window it is. The poor fellow swallows so much air and it has to escape somehow, especially when he’s in a bad mood.

Hopefully your Thursday will be less…fragrant, my friends.

Over and out.

Old Decrepit Me

Last week the stomach flu tore through our household like a hot knife through the solidified fat of your choice. I’m still a little weak-kneed, but I have an easy run scheduled for today and both B and I need the work. She was up and down with me the entire time; the only difference between a toddler and a dog watching you puke is that the dog wants to get their nose in the loo bowl.

It’s kind of exotic, the kids being old enough to want to puke on their own. Neither of them wanted me in the loo with them while they heaved. I mean, I don’t blame them, I hate vomiting more than just about anything else, but it’s kind of strange when your kids don’t want you to hold their hair, rub their back, and make soothing sounds. I contented myself with washing sheets, running bowls, and reassurance. Thank goodness we got sick round-robin instead of all at once; the Princess brought home a megaton of saltines and I had some PediaLyte stashed, and we had quite a few “get your own dinner” nights. All three of us sitting glassy-eyed at the table, staring at bowls holding minuscule portions of something bland, and every once in a while laughing because none of us could finish a damn portion.

Anyway, we’re all much better now. The kids, still young, chewy, and bendy, bounced back much more quickly than old, decrepit me. *sigh*

So today it’s that gentle run, with a few walking stops to make Miss B work at heel and distance, and a regular day’s work–revising a chapter of Atlanta Bound from zero to first draft status, then wordcount on The Maiden’s Blade. I’ve finally gotten to the part where I can do the kidnapping, so most of the run today will be thinking about that and putting the pieces together inside my head. Several breaks for water and stretching will have to result, too, because heaving (go figure) fucks up your back and being unable to stretch without retching is Not Fun. Even my intercostals ache, and my abdominals haven’t had this much of a workout since my dancing days.

Also, tomorrow is release day for Afterwar. Which, I’m sure, is a component of the leftover nausea. Release days are always high-stress, and this particular book had so. much. go. wrong. with the publishing process. I’m amazed the printers didn’t blow up and sink into a swamp, I’m still waiting for Yet Another Piece of Bad News and unsettled when none arrives.

On the bright side, the new dishwasher works wonders, and I was able to make rice noodles last night. I was stirring said noodles in a pot when I realized I wasn’t dreading cleanup and I was actually, finally, cooking again. So much of my identity is bound up in motherhood and feeding the kids, I feel somewhat at sea when I’m not performing that function daily.

And this morning a squirrel fell out of a fir tree, through an apple tree, and just narrowly escaped a wandering Siamese cat. The laurel bush the squirrel eventually took shelter in is suspiciously quiet, though the Siamese ran away with a bottle-brush tail. I suspect things are about to get very interesting in the New Kingdom of Backyard…

All Mod Cons Operational Again

On Tuesday, the Grand Dishwasher Saga came to a close.1 And thank goodness, too, because Wednesday night I came down with the stomach flu the Princess caught from her best friend, who brought it back from college in Seattle.

Consequently, a lot of bowls needed to be washed, and now that I’m on the mend (shaky, back and head aching from dehydration, but not spewing) all the cups we’ve attempted to drink from need washing as well. And linens. Gastroenteritis is a messy business, and with the sudden violent onset of this particular virus, there were a lot of linens needing some soap and water.

Thank God the washing machine wasn’t out of commission. Things could have gotten dire.

Anyway, our complement of mod cons is now complete again. I’ve lost most of this working week, though, and I was already behind. Guess we all know what I’m doing this weekend.

That’s right. Loading the (functioning!) dishwasher. And writing.

Over and out.

May Day Appliance Wizard

Season 4 of ROADTRIP Z just started, so if you want to get in on it, now’s the time. This is the very last season, and after it ends (probably sometime in October) I’ll be doing another serial. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’ll be Robin Hood in Space, otherwise known as HOOD. (I have this thing for capitalizing serial titles, I guess.) I just have to figure out if that one’s a long standalone or broken up into seasons, too.

Good morning! It’s Beltane, which is lovely. It’s also (supposedly) the day we finally get the new dishwasher (still sitting in our garage) installed and can stop calling service people and the home warranty folks. After a bumpy start, the latter have been more than kind. The only problem is having to call them each time because I hate the phone…

*time passes*

Well, just as I was typing that, the doorbell rang, the dogs went nuts, and it was the installer. Several hours early, in fact. And despite one small snag (the water hose wasn’t long enough, so he popped out and grabbed a new one) everything went smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that the NEW DISHWASHER is currently WASHING. I mean, there wasn’t much to put in there for its inaugural load, but dammit, I made do. I FOUND things to put in there.

A big shout out to: Trevonte, Renee, Samantha, and Kinetha at AHS for their patience and kindness, another big shout-out to the original installers who had a helluva day before they got to us, yet another to Mr Gates of Gates Plumbing who was kind, professional, and thoroughly courteous, and to finish it off, thank you, Tri-County, for coming through bigtime.

I’ve got to say the last installer–the Tri-County fellow–was a wizard. The dogs calmed down while he worked, he hummed to the dishwasher while installing, and he had the nicest, sleepiest, most genuinely pleased smile I’ve seen in a while. The May Day Appliance Wizard, I’ll call him, and dear gods above but this was a pleasant way to start a brand-new month. April was horrid, but the luck has changed now.

It takes a village to get a damn dishwasher in. The thing is running now, and I can’t hear it. The old one used to be audible even outside the front door. I’ve had to walk down the hall and check that it’s still running each paragraph.

*checks again* Yep, still running. Man, it’s nice to have that back.

Now I’m going to go for a run. No rest for the wicked, and my joy will probably float me for a few blocks until my heart, lungs, and legs figure out I’m making them work again.

Over and out.

Said Often

So Odd Trundles had a nightmare last night, and peed his bed. This doesn’t happen as frequently as you’d think, but it does mean I’m up early, his bedding is in the wash, and I have soaped a dog’s ass and undercarriage before 8am. It’s a good thing all my commitments for the day were suddenly changed to afternoon during the span of a half-hour yesterday.

If I can just get through this week without combusting from sheer tension, I’ll call it a win.

So. My office is full of the reek of just-washed Trundles, but at least the window is open. A plumber is coming by this afternoon to fix the shutoff valve and maybe, if he got authorization from the home warranty folks, to install the new dishwasher and take the old one away. I have each scenario planned for–just the valve fixed, the valve fixed but the dishwasher electrical somehow borked, the valve fixed and the new dishwasher installed but the old one not carted off, and the best of all possible worlds, the valve fixed, new dishwasher installed AND old one carted away. Anything will represent a step forward, so I’m pretty Zen about the whole deal. It’s arrived at the point of absurd hilarity, so I can relax now.

The other commitment this afternoon is offering moral support during a friend’s doctor visit. I can’t plan for any of the scenarios on that one. For one thing, nothing is inside my control there except showing up on time and being supportive. For another, there’s just too much we don’t know yet. Today should at least give us more information. Aggressive treatment options are already scheduled for the next few weeks, so we’ll see how it turns out.

I say that a lot. Just this past weekend, I was in the car with the Little Prince. I have this habit of prepping the kids when we’re in the car. When they were younger, everything went easier if they knew what to expect, and the car was the last-minute place for answering questions and taking them through processes. I guess I haven’t gotten out of the habit, because I started telling the Prince what we were looking for and as a bonus, answering his questions about the then-latest bits of the dishwasher saga.

“…we’ll see what happens,” I finished.

He laughed. “You say that every time we’re in the car.”

I said it again at dinner, and since then, I’ve noticed whenever it leaves my mouth. The kids are sixteen and twenty now; I suppose decades of parenting have left me with a few habits they might find a little annoying. Both of them tell me the prep sessions are comforting no matter how old they get. Plus, they’ve absorbed “plan for what we can and relax about the rest” as a Life Maxim, which is hardly the worst way to look at situations.

It’s busy, but so far I’m coping. Especially since work is going relatively smoothly, though I had to take some time off yesterday to think about ceremonial leather armor, mercury poisoning, and different diseases I can give this particular Emperor that will have the effects I want on him and the story. I need his decline to be fairly rapid since we’re in the last third of the book, and the coronation is the next-to-last thing that happens before number one of the trilogy reaches a natural resting place.

But…yeah. We’ll see what happens.

*winks, vanishes in a cloud of smoke*