Fire of Many Sources

Got up, took Boxnoggin out, made coffee, built a fire. We have to use up those cedar rounds, after all, and it’s cold enough. I’m feeling very Foxfire Books right now. I mean, it’s not scrubbing the bristles off a boiled pig carcass, but it’s something. (The dog, wiser than I, has already gone back to bed.)

I finished John Rechy’s City of Night this past weekend. I can see why the book was so formative, especially for the non-Shakespeare bits of My Own Private Idaho. A lot of it rang very true; it’s amazing how much street life doesn’t change through decades. Of course, the experience of a male hustler is significantly different than that of a young girl, and yet the faces are absolutely the same. The beat is there, even if the music is variations. I kept thinking Rechy was what Kerouac so desperately wanted to be, but didn’t have the courage (or the writing chops, the honesty, or the discipline) to pull off.

But we all know my feelings on Kerouac. Anyway, next up is Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness, which feeds The Black Land’s Bane, naturally. A great deal of the current trilogy was inspired (very loosely) by The 13th Warrior–though I never read Eaters of the Dead–while both 13th and Eaters rely heavily on Ibn Fadlan. There are even, I am told, great chunks of Eaters taken wholesale from translations, which shows that at least Crichton knew to take from the best.

The rest of Black Land is Tolkien, with a heavy dose of influence from Neil Price’s magisterial work on Viking magic. No book ever springs from one source; many are the freshets and streams which make the river of a story. And I’ve got to get this elvish city sacked in the next few days’ work, dammit. It’s taken too long, I want falling masonry, flame, and swordplay.

Of course, I’ll have to nurse the fireplace along until the kids are up to help. It takes a lot of strain off the rest of the heating system, plus the cedar is very fragrant. The sky is lowering and it smells like snow, though I’m sure we’ll only get sleet as the next warm front pushes in. I hear there’s actual white stuff (again) a few hundred miles north, but here the river often manages to keep such things at bay.

I mean, it didn’t over Yule–that ice storm was something else, and the winds right after brought down the cedar we’re burning now–but generally we escape real long-term cold. I’m sure many of the insect eggs burrowed into the ground to wait for spring are dying off, as well as the slug and snail eggs too. Which is a mercy; their numbers have been ravaging for a while.

It’s about time to go feed the fire again. I can hear it popping happily from my office. At least the chill means there’s a lovely draw up the chimney, and the ash, worked into compost, does wonderful things for the garden. Boxnoggin will yawn and mosey out as soon as I make a move toward brekkie, and though he’ll complain the cold will also force both of us to move rather swiftly. Not a bad prospect, all told.

I’m not feeling well lately. I suppose it doesn’t matter much. Putting my head down and simply enduring has carried me through worse. At least there’s the fire, the winter light, and the prospect of actually getting some damn wordcount.

It’ll have to be enough.

Bryophyta Courage

Moss. Mycelium. Maybe some lichen too.

I’ve been obsessed with moss lately. I mean, I already liked it, but then there happened along the #Mosstodon tag on the fedi. (There’s also the #LichenSubscribe tag, which pleases me deeply, and let’s not even talk about the donkeys.) So I’ve been happily taking pictures of winter velvet, no doubt also pleasing a few botanists and biologists curious about such things.

Heaven knows there’s never any shortage of moss around here even in summer, though it does tend to get a bit dry and crackly. I won’t run out of subjects to point the cell phone at, that’s for sure.

I finally wrote the river race that’s been knocking around in my head for over a year, and today I get to set up the destruction of an entire elvish city. The elementalist does need to have a chat with the king about his parenting methods before then, perhaps; I’ll get there as the story–and the Muse–wills.

One of the things I love about moss is that it grows in places no other self-respecting plant would find even remotely acceptable. It creeps into cracks, feeds on detritus, covers the garbage left behind. Hell, it’ll even grow on bare rock, especially if its best bud lichen is around. Moss takes adversity as a challenge, like Bugs Bunny takes a thrown gauntlet.

Anyway, this crop is merrily growing on a creosote-soaked railroad tie repurposed to hold back perhaps-contaminated topsoil. It fries in summer and drowns autumn through spring. The locale is terrible for any living thing, but there’s the moss, happily soaking its wee roots, lifting its many green fingers. Some has spread to the rocks and small chunks of concrete below, because even stone is friable when you’ve got the sort of time moss does.

One can learn a lot from dear old Bryophyta. And with that happy thought, I wish you a pleasant weekend.

Cookie Snow

Let it snow…cookies!

The ice storm has settled over us like a broody hen. If I take Boxnoggin out through the back garage door we don’t have to negotiate the deck stairs. That means going past the Mad Tortie’s kingdom, so he has to be harnessed and snubbed. The Mad Tortie is a bit taken aback by this turn of events, since we all know Boxnoggin likes to play rough and the Tortie has no desire for any such shenanigans, so the sooner this weather eases up the better for everyone. Still, it’s nice to have options–and not to be dragged off the bloody deck at the end of a leash, ending in a bone-snapping heap.

If the power holds there will be more holiday baking today. In the past week, there has been a positive cyclone of cookie-making and the like; you can see some delicious results above. I’m quite enamored of the new snowflake cookie-cutters, they’re my absolute favorite. The Princess has promised more in that direction, and also some challah. All we need now is for the electricity to keep going as it has been.

If the grid tanks under the weight, well, we’ll hunker for the duration. We’re as prepared as it’s possible to be.

I wish you a pleasant holiday, my beloveds, with as much excitement or peace as you prefer. I’ll be back on the blog sometime after Boxing Day, and of course I’m over on Mastodon and CounterSocial near-daily.

Be safe out there.

Atlas Break

The longest night is over. There’s a band of grey in the east, and the cedars are dancing on a frigid wind. The weather folk say snow today, with an additional helping of freezing rain. The moisture shouldn’t move in until afternoon, but already things are frozen solid–I had to move the birdbath’s dish so it can drain when the polar stuff is done.

We don’t often get snow here (or we never used to, thanks, climate change!) so people are losing their minds with preparations on top of the usual holiday ruckus. I’m sure kids are thrilled at the prospect of a Christmas looking like a Currier-Ives tin. I heard Fred Meyer’s (Kroger’s, for my nonlocals) was out of deicer and rock salt. Even though I got out of the house early yesterday, there were still too many people out and about, and all in various stages of deep stress.

I didn’t put out a vigil candle this year. Just didn’t have the spoons, and I figured others could do the observances to bring the sun back. Intellectually I know that flaming ball of nuclear hydrogen will handily outlast our species, but spiritually it’s a different matter. Ah well, I’ve carried the world on my shoulders long enough. Even Atlas needed a break every now and again.

The revisions are finally gathering steam–4k in new text added yesterday, even with significant deletions in the mix. I have a few bad-tempered things to say at this point in the process, but professionalism means keeping those under wraps, downing another quad-shot (or cuppa) and simply getting back to work. Illness and holiday scramble have put me even further behind schedule, but that was only to be expected. I knew that jury duty nonsense would cost me serious time and annoyance; there should be some sort of recourse for being forced to sit near maskless mouthbreathers.

You can tell I’m in a bright, cheery mood. Relief is just as exhausting as tension, after a certain point.

Boxnoggin wants his morning walkies, but he does not want the cold wind. Our ramble will be severely truncated since I don’t want either of us freezing to death; naturally, he will blame me for the weather since I am In Charge, and clearly the immortal creature he lives with–who produces light with a flick of her fingers and food at will–is capable of dealing with little things like rain and ice. He seems to think I have ineffable reasons for such misery, and bears with it patiently, grumbling only the minimum amount.

For all that, he took forever to find a place suitable for peeing this morning. I can perhaps be forgiven for wondering aloud, “I got out of a warm bed for this?”

He gave me a look of hearty agreement, yet could not unload until he found the precise perfect spot. This doesn’t bode well for our midmorning constitutional, but maybe the idea that a certain amount of prudent haste is advisable will work its way through his thick skull. A subzero wind chill does tend to concentrate the mind wonderfully, at least in the initial stages.

Ah, yes. One more thing I wanted to say. Some of you have reached out with kind words; thank you very much, they are appreciated. I cannot respond to every single email in detail, but please know your missives are attentively read, and cherished.

I suppose I’d best get some toast, find my gloves, and prepare for a polar trek. It will make returning home even nicer than usual, which is saying something. We’ve gone through one more wicket; only a few remain until the new year.

Stay warm, my beloveds.

Book, Resurrected

A little sideways this morning. It could be the weather, it could be an internal emotional reshuffling. Too soon to tell. I have to wait for the caffeine to soak in before I try anything requiring decision-making. I went from standing at the kitchen sink with my hoodie’s hood pulled all the way up, staring out the window while I licked espresso foam off the measuring spoon used to stir said quad-shot, to being in my office humming a Lana del Rey tune while I tried to plug in my mug and put my phone on the coaster next to my keyboard.

…it’s gonna be one of THOSE days, I can just tell.

It’s a dark morning, but that’s only to be expected the day before Yule. It’s very fitting, since I’m revising the first Black Land’s Bane again and it starts on the longest night of the year. I’m finally on the right track again, though it took weeks of being interrupted plus that whole jury duty fiasco and concomitant illness to get back. The book is resurrected. Not sure about the rest of the series, but that’s a Future Lili problem.

That bitch will curse her past self, but it can’t be helped.

The weather folks are saying snow will happen soonish, but I’m suspicious. The wind just doesn’t taste right; instead, I think we’ll get a day or two’s worth of sleet. Boxnoggin will absolutely love that, I’m sure. He’ll need lots of praise, and won’t want to amble as is his usual wont. He’ll be all business instead, looking to unload, huff at a few of his usual spots, then book it uphill. Running will be fun too, though I’ll have to keep careful watch on my footing. The new running shoes–it was about time, the old ones have definitely lost their cushion, as evinced by the back, knee, and foot pain–will help. They’re grippy little things.

*time passes*

I’ve started and deleted several paragraphs, which is generally a sign I should just bring this to a close, finish the last swallow of espresso, and get going since I won’t be able to wring any daily thoughts out of my brain-meat. Some days the blogging comes easily. Other days I’m unwilling to let the curtain part. Might as well save my energy for the revision, since I’ll have to insert at least one scene today. Getting an elf to explain their particular variety of horse-magic will be grand, and I can likewise poke a bit of sly fun at some ill-tempered louts, which is always a good time.

So I’ve my work cut out for me. Boxnoggin has not pranced down the hall to roust me for breakfast, but he can be forgiven for going back to bed. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself, but the story is burning in my fingertips once more. It’s a relief; I was terrified this story was irretrievably gone. But a little more caffeine, a little toast, some time spent outside in the cold darkness, and I’ll be ready to tango again.

And tomorrow is the solstice. I’m ready for the long night; I hope you are too.

Frost Leaf

Delicate work.

I am generally neutral on Disney movies, but I always loved Fantasia, especially as a child. My favorite part, bar none, is the ice fairies near the end of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, and every time there’s frost I’m happy thinking that the little winged beasts have been at it again.

We had the exact optimal weather conditions for a hard frost yesterday morning. Boxnoggin was particularly thrilled with the park; he snaked along, head down and nose buried, chuffing to clear his lips of frost every once in a while. I was afraid he’d hurt some tender facial tissues, but apparently he considered it all a good time. The sun striking hard surfaces raised steam, so the entire world was jeweled and gilded.

This little fellow was resting on the sidewalk. I like to think a particular ice fairy spent time decking it out, becoming absorbed in their work and feeling a great glow of satisfaction. Yes, I know it’s merely atmospheric conditions and mathematical expressions of frozen water. That’s just as cool, I simply like the mental image of ice sprites better.

The entire universe is alive, and so are we. Which is a nice thought to take into the weekend.

See you on Monday, my beloveds.

Claw, In Moss

Something was climbing here.

This is my favorite photo lately. A creature was clearly attempting to go up, and Boxnoggin was very interested in whatever it smelled like. His paw could have fit comfortably in the mark, so it could’ve been a dog or a local coyote–though I think the latter might have all moved into the hills for winter hunting. On the other hand, that particular stack of boulders has plenty of nooks and crannies for rodent life, and whoever was climbing may have been in pursuit of a snack.

I’m not feeling well today, so there will not be a Reading with Lili this week. Fret not, though–older episodes are on YouTube for your delectation. It’s a bit of a drag since I was looking forward to nerding out about Murakami Haruki today, but it’s better to wait until conditions improve, as it were.

On the bright side, we finally made it to Friday. In a few weeks this year will be behind us too; I am still stuck in the fluid weirdness of pandemic time.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Be kind to each other–and yourselves.