Advent Madge, and Clarence, Too

Gallow & Ragged

April was difficult. Between recovering from several birthdays, late celebrations of said birthdays, freaking out over approaching epic fantasy deadline, and worrying about everything under the sun, it’s a wonder I didn’t lose what little sanity remains to me.

I did wake up today with Jody Watley and Glenn Campbell duking it out inside my earworm space, so at least there’s that. And I have, courtesy of a bead show, some new chandeliers to try earring designs with.

There’s also this beautiful lady:

Her name is Madge. I did some work for Dee’s Darlings, and Madge decided to come work for me for a bit as a thank-you. She is adorable and gets along well with Veronica and Isabelle. (You’ve met Veronica the Office Oracle, Isabelle is…difficult to explain. Maybe later this week.) Veronica in particular is happy to have an amanuensis, though Madge’s shorthand is impossible for anyone but her to read.

Veronica: CHICKEN SCRATCHES. AND I’VE NEVER SEEN A CHICKEN.
Madge: YOU CALL IT SCRATCHES, I CALL IT JOB SECURITY.
Isabelle: YOU TWO AREN’T FIGHTING, ARE YOU? WE ALL NEED TO GET ALONG.
Veronica: NOBODY’S FIGHTING, IZZIE.
Madge: *scribbles furiously*
Isabelle: ARE YOU SURE? BECAUSE I COULD BRING YOU SOME FISH–
Madge and Veronica, in tandem: NO FISH.

…yeah, things have been interesting around here lately. I should tell you guys about Clarence the Squirrel. It’s more of a title than an actual name, because Clarence is “the squirrel what’s actually got the peanut, you see,” and dinner hour a la Chez Saintcrow has gotten really strange since the kids love to put out a handful of peanuts while we eat, then wait for developments.

Anyway, the Clarence is the mug what’s got the peanut, and Ralph and Jeff are the mugs what don’t, and the deck has become the scene of a dinnertime drama almost Lynchian in its feverish intensity. (I almost made a Blue Velvet ether-sniffing joke the other night and caught myself just in time.) Clarence constantly wishes to keep their find from Jeff and Ralph, and the instant one of those picks up a peanut they become Clarence. (It’s kind of like Olsen Twins, who, being older no longer vibrates at such a high frequency.) Jeff and Ralph usually team up against the Clarence, and once a squirrel loses a peanut they become a Jeff or Ralph.

Understand? Good, because I didn’t for days and the kids had a sort of “Who’s on first” routine they were running. And poor me, with my head stuffed full of preindustrial technology and travel times, not to mention worrying about the damn mortgage, didn’t quite catch up with the train for a bit.

Parenthood, man. It never stops being a complete and total trip.

I even got some gardening done this weekend, which only brought home how much more there is to do. Maybe I’ll just grow nasturtiums this year instead of turning over the veggie garden.

In any case, it’s time for a run, and if I play my cards right, I can finish the zero of The Poison Prince this week. It would be nice to get that corpse on the table so it can be revision time instead of “I keep stabbing this book and it won’t DIE” time. Of course once I do, it’s time to get the zero of HOOD‘s Season One out. Then there’s revisions on Harmony, and and and…

…so, just as usual, my chickadees, I bid you a fond farewell until tomorrow, and vanish, cackling, in a cloud of scented smoke.

Mission Creep, Squirrel Inquisition

Significant progress on a Sekrit Projekt this weekend, in between everything else–finishing up after the barrage of birthdays and houseguests, not to mention extracurricular activities, errands, and–always my favorite step–cleanup. Once again, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend, but there’s no relief in sight, just more work. It would be nice to feel like I could slow down once in a while without the risk of starving, but such is not my fate.

I love being able to work at a high, hard pace for long periods of time; I also like my infrequent fallow periods. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if, through illness or injury, I lose either.

Then I wipe away cold sweat, laugh somewhat unsteadily, and get back to work. Really, what else can one do?

At least I get to run with the dogs, and I get to sink into one project instead of spreading myself between two or three today. The Poison Prince needs more of my attention than it’s been getting, and I have a chat to accomplish between a sister and brother, both the babies of the family, marveling at how their roles have changed. Siblings are much the same the world over, but it still requires thought–and I also have a lady in waiting to get out of the palace and into trouble.

It would be nice if the world would stop burning for a little bit so I could concentrate. As it is, I have to ration my peering and peeking at certain social media. Empathy is a distinct handicap, living in these most interesting of times.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been wanting to read more romance lately. Sinking into worlds where there are happy endings, where work and virtue is rewarded and asshats punished instead of being given advantages the rest of us could only dream of…well, it’s a nice thought, and an anodyne. I have a Dostoevsky on tap, but I’m not sure I can take it without a romance or two to balance everything out. I’ve even caught myself going back to an unfinished Watcher book, wanting to tell a story I know ends relatively well instead of…well, other things.

Sure, in all my spare time, right? Maybe a slight refocusing of my work schedule is called for…

…but that’s next week’s job, when I’ve finished catching up and taking a deep breath for the rest of March. I feel like there’s been some mission creep here on the blog as well–how long since I’ve done a writing theory post, or told you another SquirrelTerror story?

Speaking of the latter, it appears the goddamn tree-rats have figured out my daughter is, well, mine, and heir to whatever invisible mark Neo and his damn crew put on me. The other day I came home from running the dogs and the Princess met me at the back door, looking somewhat puzzled.

“Uh…Mum…”

“What?” I snapped, untangling myself from leashes and pointing Miss B at the water bowls.1

“They were doing reconnaissance,” the Princess blurted. “Like, six squirrels. That I saw, at least. They were up on the porch messing with the front door, too, and a couple were on the deck at the same time.”

“You were sieged by squirrels? I mean, you are my daughter–“

“But I didn’t expect it!”

“Nobody,” I said gravely, “expects the Squirrel Inquisition.”

She gave me a look I can only classify as irritated and deployed an eye-roll that showed she is, still, much closer to her teenage years than I. “Go ahead and laugh.” She heaved a mother-worthy sigh at her gentle dam. “I sound like you.”

“A fate worse than death, I’m sure.” I grabbed my own water bottle and headed to the kitchen, expecting that to be that.

Perhaps my daughter was wiser, because she spent a little while watching the deck with anxious folded arms. She sensed something coming, and she was right…

…but that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Super Chonk Squirl

Super Chonk Squirl

No, that's not a teensy-tiny bird feeder to the right. That's a bird feeder out in the middle of the yard behind the fir, and a VERY ROUND squirrel who cannot fit between the vertical supports on the deck railing.

SUPER. CHONK. SQUIRL.

Not pictured: Sir Boxnoggin, who was vibrating with the need to get through the glass French door and after said almost-spherical snack…

Advent Veronica

Me, before Yule: Oh, it’s a present from Skyla! Awesome!
Package: *rustles ominously*
Me:

Me, texting Skyla: “THIS IS AMAZING. But…a Barbie?”
Skyla, texting back: “HELL YEAH. Barbie doesn’t revolve around maternity and childcare, and she was created by a woman. Everyone needs a Barbie!”
Me: “That’s fair. But, uh, is she supposed to be talking?”
Skyla: “…”
Me: “She says her name’s Veronica?”
Skyla: “SHE WAS NOT POSSESSED WHEN I WRAPPED HER, LILI.”

Veronica: THANK YOU. THAT WAS A LITTLE AWKWARD.
Me: I hesitate to ask, but–
Veronica: MY SISTER MIRANDA SENT WORD AND NOW I HAVE ARRIVED.
Me: That’s very nice of her, but–
Veronica: YOU NEED AN OFFICE ORACLE. JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE.
Me: *faintly* I mean to clean for New Year’s.
Veronica: WELL, YOU’RE THE CREATIVE TYPE. ALSO, MIRANDA SAID SOMETHING ABOUT SQUIRRELS?
Me: *looking around wildly* Squirrels? Where?
Veronica: …I SEE. WELL, GET MY HAIR OUT OF THIS PACKAGING AND WE’LL GET TO WORK.

I did clean my office before New Year’s Day, and I have a suspiciously sinking feeling about this…

Boxnoggin’s Monday Morn

Lord Boxnoggin is a Very Curious Dog, in both senses of the word. He is ever ready to Do A Protec when a car door slams somewhere in the neighborhood, or when the doorbell rings, or even when it’s foggy outside and he just doesn’t like the way a certain fir tree is looking at him.

Right now he’s thrown himself dramatically to the floor in my office, since brekkie has been eaten and now he must endure Mum’s poking at a glowing box before getting to the real morning business: a run. My ankle is finally ready for light jogging, and he’s thrilled to bits. This morning has been Unsatisfactory to Boxnoggin for a variety of reasons, like:

Boxnoggin: BREAKFAST! WAIT, NO BACON GREASE?
Miss B: THERE’S PITA CHIPS! WOOHOO! *grabs one and trots away to eat it in secret*
Boxnoggin: WHAT? I DIDN’T GET ANY! MUM! NO FAIR!
Me: They’re right there, under your kibble.
Boxnoggin: HOOMINS ARE MAGIC! I CAN HAZ PITA CHIP! *trots away to eat it in secret*
Miss B: *returns, full of self-importance, and sticks her nose in Boxnoggin’s bowl* ANYTHING IN HERE FOR MEEEEE?
Boxnoggin: MUM! MUM! SHE’S IN MY BOOOOOWL!

Or, for example:

Boxnoggin: WHAT THE HELL?
Me: It’s fog, it’s fine. It’s just water vapor.
Boxnoggin: BUT NEW! DIFFERENT! CHANGE IS BAAAAD!
Miss B: GET OUT OF THE WAY, I’VE GOT TO PEE.
Boxnoggin: NOOOOO DON’T GO DOWN THERE, IT’S BAAAAD!
Miss B: WHAT THE HELL, DUDE, I’VE GOTTA PEE!
Boxnoggin: LET ME BACK INSIDE. I’LL PEE THERE.
Me: No. Go down the stairs.
Boxnoggin: BUT I CAAAAAAN’T!
Miss B: GET. OUT. OF. MY. WAY.
*fursplosion*
Me: STOP IT, BOTH OF YOU.
Both Dogs: EEEEE MUM’S BORKING, WE MUST BORK TOO! BORK BORK BORK!

But the biggest, most unsatisfactory event of the morning was the squirrel on the deck railing who laughed at Boxnoggin, while the latter damn near cleared the bloody thing and went sailing into the yard. The squirrel–I think it’s Batgirl, but it was moving too quickly to be absolutely sure–levitated aside to reach yet another fir tree, chittered a few nasty terms having to do with Boxnoggin’s mother wearing Army boots or some such, and vanished upwards, laughing all the while.

And Boxnoggin? While this was occurring he did his best to tear the railing off the deck, screaming about VENGEANCE and CHASE IT and MUUUUUM, so Miss B, not to be outdone, began to yell too.

At least it’s a Monday morning, and hence one I don’t have to worry about sleeping neighbors upon.

…The Princess just arose from her slumber, and of course both dogs have to supervise her morning routine. That’ll give me about five minutes of peace before they trot back to see if I’ve moved or taken the opportunity to tie my shoes, which means a run is coming closer.

I’d better act quickly. Over and out…

A Strange Repast

I came out Wednesday morning with the dogs to find out someone had left a half-eaten crabapple and part of a ginormous mushroom on our deck railing, snugged into a corner for ease of snacking. I'm sure whoever left it will return–once the mushroom wears off, that is.

All that's missing is a sign saying "EAT ME"…