Marshmallow, Sun Storm, Tuesday

It’s a grey Tuesday morning and there is not enough coffee in the world. A solar storm is expected to hit the earth today, and frankly I’m not bloody surprised, the way things have been going.

At least the cicadas are quiet, since the temperature drops overnight. They’re probably waking up the same as I am, lethargic and blinking, staggering towards their version of coffee, preparing for an entire afternoon of screaming in the treetops.

Lucky bastards.

Even the dogs are a bit beside themselves this morning. They won’t eat their breakfast and Boxnoggin is in a fractious-toddler mood. I’d say “you need a nap, dog,” but we literally just rolled out of bed. It could be he’s sensing my crankiness.

There are bright prospects, though. The other day I made an offhand comment about using Cocoa Pebbles and Rice Krispies to make treats–you know, butter, marshmallow creme, all that. The Princess got That Look, and when she came home yesterday she was loaded with Cocoa Krispies, tiny chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a plan.

I pointed out there were Cocoa Krispies but no Cocoa Pebbles (her very favorite cereal) in her supplies and my eldest child fixed me with an arch look of amusement. “The recipe I found was for Krispies, so I’m doing it that way first before I alter it.”

I could only nod sagely and mumble, “That means more marshmallow treats for us all, so I can’t complain.”

To which my child replied, just as her mother would, “Damn right.”

She even divided the pan into quarters. One was plain, one was studded with sea salt flakes, the third had tiny chocolate chips, and the last was drenched with homemade salted caramel sauce. Needless to say, that last bit was my favorite, though everyone else in the house is split between the plain and salted quarters.

So, there’s a crispy-crunchy experiment at some time in my future, possibly with caramel. That’s not a bad prospect; it’ll get me through a day of internal wires sparking through worn-off insulation, a both-hands deathgrip on my temper, and my fingertips aching from keeping my claws sheathed.

In any case, I should probably get some breakfast to balance out the caffeine once my stomach settles, the it’ll be time to walk the furry brats. I’m sure there will be hijinks; Carl the Crow has taken to accompanying us on walks around the block. She flits from tree to tree, eyeing me sideways and occasionally letting out raucous yells. I’m not sure if she’s adopted us or is waiting for me to look away so she can torment Boxnoggin–I believe she has not forgiven him for the Jerry Incident.

Speaking of Jerry the Crow, his tail feathers appear to be healing, and he’s having a lot more luck with flying. He’s still apparently only capable of short hops, and he tends to hang around our yard all day because I’m leaving sunflower seeds and the like in easy-to-reach places for him. Sandra and Carl are okay with this too; they keep bringing peanuts and cracking them in the birdbath, filling the damn thing with peanut shells. I think someone in the neighborhood thinks they’re feeding squirrels, though why anyone would do such a thing is beyond me.

We also have a ring-tailed squirrel (christened Einstein) who is up to No Good and seems positively bent on tormenting my daughter. Maybe it’s a family inheritance thing.

I do have a Backyard Tale to tell you concerning Norbert (long-time Readers will remember Norbert the Shattered Gargoyle) but I need more time and energy to write it than I possess today, so it’ll have to wait.

And with that, my beloveds, I shall bid you a fond adieu. Getting out the door before the marine layer breaks and the temperature rises is the name of the game, and since I’ve finished my coffee, breakfast is next. I can only dread what sort of hijinks will occur once I strap the dogs into their harnesses and leave the house.

Wish me luck…

Hope Eternal, Dog

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I know I keep posting pics of Boxnoggin. I can’t help it. He’s just so photogenic, truly a handsome boi.

This is our favorite square-headed canine attempting to drill a hole through me with his gaze, all in service of gaining a bite of my fiery chicken curry. Despite me telling him he would absolutely not like the result, he is bound and determined, because hope springs eternal in the soul (and the stomach) of Dog.

He did not get any fiery chicken curry, but he did get to split a treat biscuit with Miss B after I was finished with lunch.

What can I say? I’m a sucker.

I’m exhausted, coughing, and fatigued. Can’t tell if it’s allergies, plague, flu, or just the last year and a half finally coming home to roost in my poor corpus, but whatever it is, I spent most of yesterday in bed and am about to repeat the trick today. Wish me luck, and remember: Mask up, wash your hands, and hydrate. We’re not out of the woods yet. Far from.

Gaga Dad Joke

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The Princess: “I… I had to buy them.”
Me: “You’re GODDAMN RIGHT you did.”
Also Me: “…what do they taste like?”
Princess: “Food coloring? I dunno. Try one.”
Me: “I’m good. I don’t need paparazzi.”
Princess: “But you have such a good poker face!”
Me: “I was born this way.”
Princess: “It wasn’t the product of a bad romance?”
Me: “I’m your mother. I can’t answer that.”
Princess: “…that’s fair.”
Me: “I gotta go.”
Princess: “Why, is something wro–“
Me: “I don’t want to talk anymore.”
Princess: “What hap–“
Me: “I lost my head and my heart on the dance floor.”
Princess: *groans*

That’s right. I did a Gaga-flavored dad joke. And I regret NOTHING.

Anyway, there was also a discussion of “they’re not chocolate Oreos, the dogs could technically–” followed by “do you really want either of those beasts on a sugar high?” and ending in a “…that’s fair, too.”

In conclusion, while I will never be too old to try new things, I am also old enough to look at certain things and say, “Nah, I’m good, you go ahead and enjoy.” I have informed the kids this is a perk of adulthood in general and motherhood in particular.

Then I went and ordered some Girl Scout cookies. Because I’m a gat-damn adult.

Have a good weekend, beloveds. Stay warm, hydrate, wash your hands, and wear your masks.

Holiday Carnage

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My Aussie friend D.K. sent us a care package; there was even a tiny ‘roo ornament. (She was present during the party that gave rise to Jozzie & Sugar Belle, naturally.) The kids barely let me open it before the TimTams were snatched.

I mean, just LOOK at the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

If there’s anything more perfect than the dark-choco-and-chili TimTams (not pictured, because they were MINE ALL MINE) I haven’t run across it yet.

I hope you had something sweet this past week, my beloveds. I’m still hiding in my hole, still too embarrassed to come out much, but that doesn’t mean I can’t offer a word of support, I think.

Hang in there. We’re almost done surviving this year. No matter what 2021 brings, we’ve done this. And that’s an immense victory, considering.

Over and out.

A Prince’s Crumb

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The Little Prince (I should just call him “The Prince” now, he’s taller than me, though not even close to my Machiavellian status, ha ha) is barreling ahead in his Baking & Desserts class. Each week he has a choice of three recipes, and this past week he chose… bread.

“But, Mom,” he said, leaning in my office door, “I want it to be like yours. Will you help me?”

There were no fluttering eyelashes, but I felt the need to clutch at my heart just the same.

So now he knows about autolyse and has kneaded a giant hunk of dough; he’s heated the oven just right for proofing and used a bench scraper, how to rescue a dough too wet or too dry, and he baked a lovely, lovely loaf we had with dinner and then for breakfast the next day.

He’s very proud of himself, and my poor heart is so full it aches. I mean, just look at that lovely crumb! The well-shaped loaf! The beautiful crack in the top crust! The irregular holes!1

It tasted pretty spiffy, too.

I hope you had a similar victory this past week, dearly beloveds; I hope someone let you know just how important you are and how much they treasure something you do–something you might not think much of, but they think is just the bee’s knees and the cat’s pyjamas.

I am swinging between hope and despair, as I have been all year. But it’s nice to take a breath, and a bite of something with love baked into its very molecules.

I wish you a peaceful weekend, dear ones.

Keep Chipping Ice

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I decanted a lot of sauerkraut yesterday; today I put a fresh batch in the crock. The world might be mad, but fermentation remains the same. The microbes do not GAF, as my kids might say.

The clouds have moved in. We’re looking at rain for the weekend, which of course pleases me to no end, since I have to finish this damn zero and it’s dragging. I feel like I’m waiting for the ice on a Russian river to break up, with that immense creaking and cracking you can’t forget once you’ve heard it. Soon everything will break and the torrent will carry me down to the sea of having finished another gat-damn book.

In other news, the portal fantasy I wrote at white heat during my lockdown nervous breakdown seems to be an actual book and not just a collection of disjointed mutterings. At least, so my beta readers and agent say, and since I can’t see the forest for the trees right now I’m going to have to take their word for it.

That is, after all, why one has beta readers and partly why one has an agent. You can’t see the book clearly when it’s less than an inch from your nose; you need a second (or third, or fourth) pair of eyes on the thing, yelling the description so you can guess. Trust is essential, and so is the commitment to be gentle and truthful at once. If not for my beta readers loving the portal fantasy, I would have kept it on my hard drive and not allowed it to go to my agent, which she says would be a great loss.

The dogs seem to sense I have finished my coffee and are lobbying hard for a walk. Despite the hour I can hear a leaf blower going somewhere in the neighborhood; it is gloomy outside and that is the way I like it. A new book is trying to push its way through the noise in my head, but I’ve enough to do without adding it to the pile; it will have to stay just a series of disconnected images and dialogue inside my head.

Fortunately, the half-formed stories are a refuge from both actual work and the raging torrent of bad news that is current events. I can crawl into the stories when I need some respite. I don’t know how people without that safety do it.

So it’s time to chaperone the fuzzy quadrupeds, haul my reluctant carcass on a run–the new shoes are doing all right, though I could wish for a bit more cushioning–and a whole day spent in a city under siege. Maybe I’ll begin to hear the distant song of cracking ice, maybe not.

Sooner or later, though, if I just keep chipping, something will happen. I have to believe that, or I might as well give up entirely.

Tasty Victory

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I did chana masala for the first time! There are a million recipes for it online, and I found one that uses cocoanut oil for “blooming” the spices, which I wanted to try.

The chickpeas were soaked overnight and simmered with lemon rind, olive oil, onion, and salt for a long while; about a half-hour before dinner, I began with more onions and spices in hot oil, then the crushed tomatoes. The resultant stuff went into the chickpea pot for the last simmer. I was nervous about the whole experiment–there were a lot of chickpeas to throw out if this went wrong–until the very end, when I dumped in the garam masala and stirred.

That was what it needed, and finishing with a little lemon juice just made it OMG WOW. My faith was utterly vindicated and restored at once, especially since the kids both pronounced this something they’d eat again. (They’d better, we have a lot of leftovers.)

So at least this week has contained one (very tasty) victory. Heaven knows I needed it, and I hope your week had at least one victory as well, no matter how small.

Onward to the weekend, then, once I get today’s work finished. (There’s always a catch…)