Last Smol Sno

Lingering in shaded corners.

Earlier this week, while the dogs and I were walking, I found the very last snow of winter. I’m pretty sure there won’t be more, at least–of course, the way 2022 is going, I’ll be proven dreadfully wrong as a nuclear blizzard descends.

Win some, lose some, I guess.

The urge to crawl into stories and pull the door closed behind me is overwhelming lately, and no wonder. I can’t even scrape up any hope that next week will be better, I’m stuck on “let’s just pray it doesn’t get worse.” Regardless, spring has arrived, however fitfully. The planet will continue on its merry way whether or not humanity drowns itself with radioactive bloodshed.

…I keep trying to be cheerful, or at least quietly optimistic, but it’s not happening. Have a good weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves, and each other. It’s a madhouse out there; take what peace you can find.

Over and out.

Small Hope in Rain

It’s raining again! The cedars are moving uneasily on a dripping breeze and all trace of ice is washed away. I woke up with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing playing at top volume inside my head, nice and peppy. Considering that I had a Michael Bolton earworm all weekend, it’s a nice change.

I always feel better when it’s raining, anyway.

There’s a full day on the docket. I have to somehow focus through the burning of the world and continue work. Words have to be made–there’s a long-awaited combat scene I have to at least start, and a couple of monster hunters to get out of a hotel as well–not to mention dogs have to be walked, my own weary corpse has to be run, and I suppose I should stare blankly into a webcam and try to say something that doesn’t sound silly in the face of All This.

A tall order, especially that last bit.

I made focaccia yesterday. The Princess is neutral on it, but the Prince and I can do serious damage to a loaf within a very short time. I could have added some garden rosemary, but decided against it. Making something, anything, is pretty much the only way of beating back the darkness for me right now. Bread. A pair of earrings. A few words on a story before I run out of energy and sit, staring, into the abyss.

My heart hurts. It’s a sharp pain, and jabs when least expected. Sometimes I think I can feel the organ cracking, though I know perfectly well it’s made of meat and the agony is emotional. The body doesn’t know the difference, and I haven’t been running enough to purge a lot of the stress chemicals. That ends today–things have reached the point where I can’t afford not to run. Maybe it will shake me out of myself, give me a little hope.

It’s taken an inordinate amount of time to type this, between staring at the cedars out the window and gauging how cold my coffee is now. (Answer: Tepid, and will soon grow downright chilly.) The dogs, having grasped that Water Is Falling From the Sky, are content to let walkies wait…but not for long, since habit and ritual both demand they start irritating me as soon as my coffee cup is truly cold and it’s toast-time. At least I can take some comfort in their obliviousness; as long as they have morning kibble to ignore and Mum stays in her office staring into a glowing box, all is well with their world.

Sometimes I wish for their ignorant bliss. It certainly looks nice. I know the only hope lies in just holding the line, doing what I can, and making my own little corner of the world as calm and quiet as possible, but I don’t feel like it’s enough and I agonize over not being able to do more.

Be kind to yourselves today, my beloveds. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel overwhelmed at the moment. Hopefully I can escape into the stories for a short while today–and hopefully you can find a little relief somewhere too.

Over and out.

Creaking Systems, Errands

The dogs rocketed out the back door this morning like they had a whole herd of something to run down, which is pretty usual. Less usual was the fact that the birds, clustered on the Yankee Squirrel Flinger, didn’t seem to care. They were too busy chatting about something-or-another. Boxnoggin gave them a hard stare, trying to discern whether or not they were worth chasing, but the relative height of the Squirrel Flinger and their small size meant he discarded the idea. (Reluctantly.)

I’m waiting for the last few preorder links to propagate for Sons of Ymre #1. So far Apple was the only laggard (but that’s fixed now), except for the paperback links, which should naturally sync up with the ebook ones as soon as databases update and the like. The book’s having a difficult way through the pipeline, which is to be expected under current publishing conditions. Everyone is doing their best; systems are creaking with the strain on publishing as a whole. We should be on track with no wiggling of the go-live date (February 22), which is a bloody miracle under the circumstances. Big props to the entire production team on this one.

On every book, really, and this one in particular.

It’s Half-Price Candy Day! I’m forced to leave the house for other errands–I do my best not to, as is well known, but there are things I simply can’t put off any more after three years of semi-lockdown. I mean, I didn’t like going outside my own walls before All This, but…anyway, I held out for three years and now I must mask up, hold my nose (figuratively), and just get everything accomplished in one Tuesday.

On the bright side the land under the kitchen sink remains dry. (It only took four-five visits?) I am obsessively checking it, and each time I shut the dishwasher door I breathe a little prayer. Thankfully the replaced parts on said dishwasher have solved not only the “doesn’t-work” problem but also the “random beeping” problem, which was the underlying cause the whole time. The repairman suspected it, of course, but his hands were tied by the home warranty company and in any case he would’ve had to come back once the parts arrive, so the two visits were unavoidable.

I just feel bad about making anyone come to the house under these conditions. We all masked up and the dogs were put in Durance Vile (i.e., my bedroom or office) each time, I opened all the windows to get air moving through, and there was plenty of sanitizer…but I still felt bad. They weren’t the kind of repairs that could wait, especially the leak under the sink, and yet…yeah, you know what I’m about to say.

I want to take care of and protect other people during All This. It’s the only way we’re going to get through. I know–and have seen–there are people who feel differently, who want to harm others as much as possible, but I am just as mystified by it as I have always been. Sometimes I think that’s why I’m a writer; figuring out why people do the things they do is one of the reasons I step into so many different characters’ skins. If I can understand I can feel some compassion, and that’s important.

In any case, the morning wears on and the dogs need walkies before I brave the Outside World for Errands Aplenty. I’m procrastinating, of course. I don’t wanna, even though I hafta, and the thought of seeing jerkwads with naked faces in public spaces, breathing contagion out through their disease-holes, is just plain awful. It doesn’t help that every time I see an unmasked asshat they’re wearing the same rancid, self-satisfied little smirk while the rest of us flinch away from their malignant stupidity. That smirk reminds me of so many unpleasant, abusive people, it’s positively chilling.

Ugh. Anyway. Wish me luck, and remember to mask up, wash your hands, and treat yourselves gently. We need you–yes, you reading this. You’re important.

Over and out.

Sunflower Cleanse

How doth the garden grow?

I have always loved small solar bobbles like this, but never had the chance to buy any. For one reason or another, it just never happened…until recently. I saw them online and thought, well, it’s a plague, might as well get something that makes me happy.

So I did. This cheerful little fellow is in my office window. He won’t get much of a chance to dance until summer, this being the rainy Pacific Northwest, but just looking at his little face makes me smile.

It’s been a long bloody week. I had to turn blog comments off–Readers didn’t see the avalanche of harassment, trollery, and spam, because it was all trapped in the back-end queue. Going through said queue was taking more and more time on blog days, so…I ended up turning off all commenting here. There’s still social media, the contact form, the Twitch teas, and my newsletter, as well as my Discord server; there’s no shortage of Lili.

It irks me, because I love my usual (non-troll) commenters. But the past few years have emboldened malignant jackasses to a degree almost past belief–not that I ever had much trouble believing the worst of such people, having been on the ‘net almost since the beginning. Ah well.

Anyway, we’re now at Friday again, and there are little things to be happy about even in these benighted times. I wish you a sunny weekend, dear Readers, and a bit of peace. We could all sorely use some.

See you next week.

Sweary Fun

…yup, that tracks.

I’ve been playing around on Canva this week, messing about with free graphics and learning about their editing system. This is my very absolute favorite thing I’ve made so far. Every time I look at it I grin; I was unprepared for just how therapeutic I’m finding the whole process. There’s just something about sweary text next to a cute graphic that soothes me.

It’s Friday. We’ve survived another week and are in February now. Plague time continues to be stretchy, bendy, and weird; I feel like New Year’s Eve was just last night. Perhaps it’s the semi-persistent insomnia. In any case, we’re heading for the weekend. There’s one more Tea with Lili this week; I’m looking forward to solving some of the audio issues.

Sigh. It’s always something.

Be gentle with yourselves, my friends, and each other. We’re all a bit frazzled right now, and it doesn’t seem like it’ll get better anytime soon. But at least we have little amusements, like sweary de-motivational graphics.

Over and out.

Whistling, For Whatever Value

That’s it. It’s finally happened.

The dishwasher has stopped working again. (No, that’s not what’s finally happened, though it’s the preceding event.) I am not even halfway through my coffee, but don’t fret, my beloveds. I am finally, FINALLY seeing the funny side. (There. That’s it. That’s the thing.)

I was hoping it would happen. I knew there would be some-damn-thing else, because there always is. I was just praying that the next thing to happen would be so absurd my response would be staring at the news for a few moments, my head cocked…and then, laughter.

And what do you know, here we are. “Look at that,” the Princess said, in a tone of wonder coming through text messages. “Three years of plague has even stressed out our dishwasher.”

She was a little hesitant to tell me the damn thing had stopped working again, probably because the previous incidence almost broke me. But the appliance repairman explained the problem so clearly and thoroughly I expected this sooner or later, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Plus, it’s just funny. Three years of plague (not to mention everything else) is too much even for insensate machines. No wonder delicate, nerve- filled meatsacks are feeling a little frayed right now. And yes, it’s a first-world problem of the highest order, I am well aware. Though I’m sure another Well Actually will attempt to tell me so, at high volume, on social media.

That will be funny too, especially after I mash the block button.

The release of internal pressure is exquisite. I have finally, finally reached the point where absurdity has overcome everything else, and I’m Officially Seeing the Funny Side. There was a long period of time where I just…couldn’t, and dear gods that’s uncomfortable.

Sure, the laughter has a screamy edge to it, but it’s better than the alternative. And yes, a certain part of this coping method is whistling past the graveyard, so to speak. No doubt some will mistake my humor–always black and bleak at the best of times–for uncaring, or will take offense at my determination to crack a joke. That’s fine. You cope in your way, I’ll do so in mine, there’s room in the world for both.

I am just so relieved to finally be laughing again. The world’s on fire and the plague continues, yes, and as long as I’m seeing the funny side–however small–I can do my best to help those I care for, not to mention keep some measure of psychic integrity despite the onslaught.

I was waiting to see what would break me, and hoping it would crack in the direction of mordant amusement. Here we are, and it’s a bloody relief.

The dogs need walking, too. No matter what else happens, canine routine and habit must be upheld. It’s subscription drop day, too. And I need to get a character through burgling an arch-enemy’s house, not to mention shift to another book to get a pair of characters out of a pretty-much-destroyed apartment and onto their grand adventure.

I can relax now, for whatever value of “relaxation.” Weapons out, teeth bared, howling laughter filling my throat, I’m ready for the rest of this.

It’s kind of good to be back. Even under these acid-test conditions.

Temporal Slip

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.