Squirrel vs Pole, Part I

Six planets are retrograde, the heat is giving everyone a short temper and rashes, politics are a never-ending hellscape, a publisher is expecting me to be on time while they drag their feet, irrational guilt is having a picnic inside my head, and even running in the cool of morning is bringing little relief.

It’s almost enough to rob me of any joy at all, even in things that are normally reliable like snoot-boops or chocolate. Dinner last night was grilled cheese, because neither the kids nor I could deal with anything more complex.

Sir Boxnoggin continues to settle in. The squirrels are furious with me over the Crisco–wait, let me back up.

Okay. So, after we re-stained the deck earlier this summer, I had the bright idea of putting bird feeders on a metal stand that had heretofore only held plants and windchimes. The birds found this new largesse acceptable, and it was nice to sit on the deck and read while flying dinosaurs pecked and chirped.

Then, of course, the squirrels found out.

So one evening, while we were all at dinner, the Princess looked up and blurted out, “Oh, no.” My head whipped to the side, and I saw a skinny, very agile, nervous squirrel we’ve since christened “Olsen Twins”1 attempting, with death-defying aplomb, to hold the central pole with its back paws while reaching the bird feeder with his front.

He failed. Spectacularly. Several times.

You know who did not fail? Batgirl.

Batgirl is a rounder, much brighter squirrel. She shouldered Olsen Twins out of the way, shimmied casually up, and began to help herself from the feeders like a pole dancer bored by her athletic routine and eating Corn Nuts while hanging upside down.

“Son of a bitch,” I breathed, and the Little Prince began to laugh a trifle nervously.

We watched, our own dinner growing cold, as Batgirl’s back feet slipped. She hung from the feeder by all fours, lost her grip, and did an amazing catlike “let’s get our feet under us before we land” maneuver, landing with a thump that rattled the deck. Undeterred, she shimmied right back up, held the pole with her back claws, and proceeded to stretch like a Slinky while stuffing her face. Below, Olsen Twins cleaned up anything that fell, which is probably why he hangs around with Batgirl in the first place.

Finally, having stuffed themselves to the gills, both squirrels scampered off to digest their ill-gotten gains. The Princess nervously advanced the notion that perhaps bird feeders on the deck were a bad idea, but I shook my head.

“Oh, no,” I said, calmly. “Now it’s personal.”

“Shit,” the Little Prince muttered, and went back to his pasta.

The rest of dinner passed without event, and I went to Google determined to learn about squirrels and bird feeders.

The next night, things got a little…bizarre.


Meet Sir Boxnoggin

Miss B was inconsolable after Odd Trundles left. She kept circling the house looking for her poor squat almost-sheep, in order to herd him. She was moping so hard she wouldn’t eat, and even running didn’t seem to wear her out enough to rest. She would come home from a run and circle the house obsessively, checking all his usual sleeping spots, attempting to round up the cats so she could count them–as if he’d be hiding among them.

Eventually, the kids asked if we could go to the shelter and get her a friend. She was even beginning to chew at certain spots of herself, tufts of hair pulled free, and that was a bad sign.

So, one extremely warm day, Miss B and I went to Southwest Humane Society1. And lo, there was the perfect companion waiting.


Meet Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot. Like any energetic three-year-old, he enjoys chasing squirrels (oh, my God, does he ever) and wrestling with B. He’s from Texas, and had a bit of a rough life before landing at Chez Saintcrow–rough enough that they called him “shy” at the shelter, though he was definitely not shy when it came time to meet B.


You can clearly see the van der Sploot in his heritage, right? Anyway, he has settled into the household as if he’s been here all along, barring some flinching at loud noises and requiring the usual calm and reassurance any dog with a  hard past does. His chase drive is at least as high as Miss B’s, which makes for some interesting times in the backyard.

As for cats, well, they have the whole downstairs where Lord van der Sploot is not allowed to go. The Mad Tortie and Madame A are unhappy with this turn of events, but we must all make compromises to live. Fearless!Cat, being damn near eleven years old, could not care less as long as her feeding schedule remains the same.

Miss B is extremely happy with this turn of events and the kids are ecstatic. I feel a little guilty at having another dog so soon after Odd, and it’s strange not to have to arrange my whole life around said dog’s medical care. He doesn’t require Odd’s anti-seizure measures OR constant vet visits, and the resultant freeing up of time gave me the decompression fits.

So. Please welcome Sir Boxnoggin, my friends. He tried to go straight up a fir trunk this morning to make a further acquaintance with the squirrel we’ve dubbed Olsen Twins.


I think he’s going to fit in just fine.

Tired, Cranky, Sore

ugh The cold is fighting for supremacy inside my body; my immune system is hunting it down and just barely managing to stay on top. Consequently I’m tired, bloody cranky, and sore all over. I could only get four and a half running miles in yesterday, which irritated the life out of me. Even the returning rains aren’t managing to cheer me. Getting wordcount was like chipping marble with a toothpick, and to top it all off, I think I’m getting a detox effect from drinking a gallon of water a day. Even if it’ll help my body hose off all my mucus surfaces (that’s what snot does, really, pressure-washes your internal driveways) it’s still…itchy.

Super itchy. All over. Like stress hives–not as unpleasant, really, because my throat swells during those. But still annoying.

Despite all that, I made wordcount, and today’s prognosis is good even though I’m forced to take a day off running, again. At least the bees have stopped crawling out of my hair and cleavage since the weather is cooler, and the time I’d spend running will be spent producing additional words. So far I’m hoping to get the second half of Harmony done for NaNo–that’s 50K to add to the 50K I’ve already got–and at least getting a skeleton zero of the zombie apocalypse book before I have to shift completely to Afterwar. I’m not spending working time on the latter until the contract arrives, because if I’m going to kill myself working on a gigantic project, I need to be getting paid for the wear and tear on my nerves.

I mean, I’d write the trilogy anyway, but it would take a loooooong time fitting it around other projects. *sigh*

If you’re thinking all three of these seem longer than my usual run of zero drafts, you’re right. It appears the next step in my growth as a writer is attempting longer, more complex stories. 100K zero drafts instead of 60-70. I vacillate between “wow, this will be great” and “OH MY GOD LILI WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF STOP STOP IT NOW.” On the bright side, my agent is thrilled and happy. I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Time for me to shuffle to the kitchen and make some herbal tea for my throat, and fill up my water glass. I want to drown this cold quickly so I can get back to running tomorrow. I’m twitchy from not enough sweat, and added to the full nose and raw throat, it’s making me snappish. Which is good for tormenting my characters, but hardly pleasant out in meatspace.

Over and out.