Mental Health, and Pumpkin Butter

I should know better than to declare any day a mental health day. It only leads to trouble. Still, all’s well that ends well, and it’s only 11AM.

How was your Samhain, dear Reader? Ours was fabulous. The pumpkins were carved, the trick or treating was accomplished–and let me tell you, I’m shocked that the Little Prince was finished only an hour or so into the trick or treating; in my day we went until the porch lights flicked off. It was a couple of very tired, very happy little ones I put to bed after the ceremonial burning of the New Year wishes on perfumed joss paper. This is the only holiday I really go all-out for, and I love it every year. I even attended a party this year. Our across-the-street neighbors threw a Halloween bash, and I went to a real actual grown-up, social party. It’s been years.

You can tell I don’t get out much.

I had an extra pumpkin, so today I’m attempting to make pumpkin butter for the very first time. We’ll see what happens. Also this week, I think I’ll attempt curried squash soup. I feel the need for comfort food, and although I hate squash with a passion (long long story) I’m told the soup is quite good. Curry will overcome my squash-loathing.

News! I will be announcing the winners of the Release Week giveaway on Friday. On November 13 I’ll be at the Auburn Public Library, from 2-3PM. I’ll be talking about how much I love libraries, the Strange Angels series, and answering all sorts of questions. You can bring your books, too, and I’ll sign them. No word yet on whether we’ll have books to buy.

I’m also trying to get together another giveaway for the newsletter. I know I haven’t sent out a newsletter in a while, but it’s about time. It’s just been…well, you know. Even if I don’t say much about it here, I think it’s obvious that the past two years have been…interesting. Thank goodness everything is calmed down and getting back on track now.

Also, today is the first day of NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure I’m participating this year; I have to see what my revision load for the last Kismet book is. If I do participate it will probably be something steampunky. If you’re doing NaNo this year, yay for you! Count me in for cheerleading you on!

That’s about all the news for right now. There is more SquirrelTerror, but I have to wait until I can really sit down and do it justice. Frankly I’m a little creeped out by the whole thing, but…well, you’ll see.

Anyway, today is for recuperating from Halloween. (“Candy is goooood,” the Little Prince chimes in.) And the pumpkin in the oven is starting to smell kind of…good. I’ll wait until the molasses and sugar and apple cider vinegar is added to really make my decision on the whole pumpkin butter thing.

Over and out!

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Cleaning Up

Well, we found out how many people it takes to pack up a bookstore in under 24 hours. The fire was Thursday evening, serious packing started at about 3pm on Friday, and by 2pm on Saturday the owner and I had locked up the empty store. There’s still things there that have to be counted and inventoried for loss, but everything that could possibly be salvaged–around 14 tons of books, shelves, furniture, counters, even Shirley the plastic penguin–is gone. Oh, the espresso machine and pump is still there; a servicing by regular company should clean both of those. Also, I’ll be taking the plants and seeing if I can’t rehabilitate them.

But, yeah. The darling Scupperlout came out and worked her buns off, the owner’s husband is a Mason so plenty of his buddies came by and worked their buns off, and a group of very nice boys from Servicemaster came out. They had no buns to work off–I wanted to feed them, they were all the rangy type. I settled for giving them doughnuts. BUT, they worked hard and in about 24 hours, the entire place was stripped.

“It’s kind of terrifying,” the owner said to me as we headed for our cars in the parking lot, breathing deep.

“At least we know now what happens after a fire. It’s all material,” I replied.

I think she probably wanted to hit me before she saw my tired grin and realized I was messing with her.

The most annoying thing was the vultures and lookie-lous. People would just wander in past the yellow fire tape. “Oh, are you guys closed?” I mean, there’s no electricity. The place is being torn apart. There are signs up front saying “THERE WAS A FIRE. DON’T COME IN.” But in they came. Oh, and people trying to take stuff from the pile out back while the Servicemaster guys were loading. What is wrong with people? Jeez.

Anyway, I’ve been smelling smoke since, even though I immediately washed up when I got home and got what I’d been wearing into the laundry posthaste. It’s weird that smoke-reek lingers so long; we kept having to bug people to take breaks and stand outside to clear themselves out. (My snot’s been gray all weekend. Yeah, TMI. I know.)

It’s weird, but I was too busy to even realize the emotional impact until the Servicemaster guys were carrying out the very last pile of stuff–water heater for the espresso machine, whiteboard I use for my writing classes, miscellaneous things–and I suddenly felt like crying. The store’s been a Safe Place and a home away from home for years now. It’s where I go to give good news and celebrate, and where I go when I don’t want to go home but I need to sit and collect myself in a friendly environment. The books in there are all friends, and I know every inch of the place. To see it all empty and dark because the power’s off, ceiling tiles crumbling onto the floor, everything reeking of fire and the carpeting swelling from water still seeping through, already looking sad and abandoned…that was rough.

Still is.

I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. So much depends on the insurance and if there’s a viable way to get the shop up and running again. The owner and I are already talking about the reshelving party–beer, pizza, and a whole ton of people to get the cleaned and revivified books back up on the shelves. “Careful,” I warned her. “I’m hell on wheels when it comes to inventory, reshelving, the whole deal.”

“You be bad cop,” she said with a grin. “I’ll be good cop.”

Which is pretty much the way it works out anyway. At least some things are eternal.

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Holding steady

Ah, the new police state. Smell that vigorous surveillance.

I am determined to get through the rest of the setup before the Big Showdown today, so this will be short. I’ve hit the treadmill–I saw no squirrel activity, though Mercutio!Jay fluttered through at intervals to keep an eye on things. I think the silence is wearing on his nerves too, because he didn’t alight anywhere except the middle of the yard, where he could see anything sneaking up on him due to the shorn grass. Further bulletins as events warrant.

And now I’ve got the end of the world to plot and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped. And it’s sickly humid today, though cooler than yesterday. Time for ice water and a hellbreed congress while I play a ton of Rob Dougan and wish he’d put out more bloody CDs.

Over and out.

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I stood in the rain today for a few glorious moments. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the end of a parched summer is a time for celebrating. Or so I think, and I suspect the yellowing lawns around here would agree. Today’s rain is only a prelude; we’ll still have some dry days. But this means cleaning out the gutters and mowing the lawn a few more times before winter. It means we’re about to embark on the long gray days I love, and everything is going to smell green.

Of course, the rain is cold and penetrating. If you don’t have a warm dry place to go to get out of it, your feelings are going to be different. Still, I love the rain. It’s part of why I live here. I tend to be a winter writer–something about the gray and the damp turns me inward and hikes my productivity like nobody’s business.

So, the story is calling today, and I think I might’ve found the point that was stopping me up. It just means I need to make some decisions. Some bleak humor would be good, too. Of course, any of the humor in my books is going to be bleak. It just works out that way. The only time I seem to genuinely write something happy is with occasional short stories.

Maybe it’s the rain.

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Wednesday Three

Three things this Wednesday, because there’s no time for more:

* I’d done about three miles on the treadmill this morning when a grayish blur caught my eye. It was a squirrel hurtling from Heaven. Or more precisely, hurtling from a rooftop. It fell through several whippy tree branches, somersaulted, hit the fence, bounced and twisted, then hit the ground and bounced again. I thought for sure the little guy was a goner. Instead, he leapt to his feet, glared at me, and scampered off. I gasped and almost fell off the treadmill. I am now told squirrels are tough little mothers, and this one was obviously a ninja. I am torn between the desire to go check the plum tree and see if he’s licking his wounds, and staying as far away from a Terminator ninja squirrel as possible for my own well-being.

* Today was, incidentally, the first day of school. The house is very, very quiet. I keep starting up from my chair, because it is too quiet, then sheepishly remembering that it’s not the silence of Children Up To No Good. I think I’m more nervous than the Little Prince and Princess were.

* I have two books fighting for the right to eat my brain first. Right now I’m settling back and seeing which one wins. They’re both under tight deadline, so I might have to send Necessity in with a baseball bat to restore order and cudgel my gray matter into behaving. That shoudl be fun to watch. *gets popcorn*

Huh. I wonder. Necessity vs. Terminator Ninja Squirrel. A fight for the ages, no doubt. I leave you with that hilarious little visual.

See you ’round!

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Why Yes, I Am Always This Driven

I was fine until about 10:30 last night, when my stomach decided it’d had enough of hosting dinner and muscled everything out like an irritated bouncer. I’d call it food poisoning, but nobody else shows any symptoms; I’d call it a bug but I have no other symptoms; I’d call it stress but I’m remarkably unstressed for once, having had all the locks replaced and deadbolts put in. Maybe it was the release of stress, and finally feeling completely safe again?

I don’t know. I’ve officially thrown up my hands (when they’re not crossed protectively over my aching middle) and decided to just treat my stomach gently, and devil take the rest.

This didn’t stop me from my first five-mile run this morning. I got on the treadmill determined to only run as long as it felt OK, and to stop at the first twinge of not-really-all-right. Five miles later, I forced myself to stop, but my stomach kept running, revolving like a bus wheel. It just felt so good to burn everything off and keep moving, really. The only problem was when I stopped. And I do seem to have largely sweated out whatever-it-was.

I’m sure you all wanted to hear about the state of my belly. So I’ll just tell you that I’m working (between naps) on proofs for TAKEN today, as well as getting an amnesiac heroine in another lead-spraying fight, and shuffle off stage left, muttering. I had big dreams of walking down to the corner grocery for pesto today, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. It’s eleven AM and I’m beat.

See you around.

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Anxiety Ruffles And Singing Weird

I had one of the weirdest anxiety dreams I’ve ever had last night. In it, I ate a whole king-size bag of crisps (Ruffles, for those of you wondering, the really thick ones) while looking for my car. I kept pressing a little button on my key fob that would make the car chirp so I could find it, and each time it chirped it was in a different direction. I finished the whole damn bag of crisps, found the car, and woke up feeling sick and sweaty because I’d been sleeping over a pillow.

Yeah, that’s pretty much how this entire day’s been going. It’s been weird from one end to the other, and I’m running out of time on this blog post too. You know how long it’s been up in a window? About six hours now, and counting.

So, is Mercury retrograde or something? Because the weirdness factor, OMG.

All right. Off I go. Wish me some normal soon. I mean, weird’s pretty much comfortable for me right now…but I’ve got the singing willies, you know, and I’d like them to quiet down so I can get some real work done.

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