Bridging

The season has turned; it’s much cooler at night now and the crickets, cicadas, and frogs are taking notice. There’s a frenzy of insects eating and mating before it gets even colder, and the spiders are well placed to take advantage. A spiderweb is math and engineering made flesh, and it delights me. (Though I really hate math, and have since myself second-grade teacher used to shake kids who got the wrong answer.)

Between the two pillars of birth and death, we weave. Fall is a time to remember that, and look up from our work before winter’s long nights arrive.

A Wooden Road

On a ramble with both dogs, I rounded a corner and found a wooden road leading into sunshine. I wondered where it went, and if I hadn’t had two leashes wrapped around my waist and a healthy aversion to possibly falling and breaking my fool leg, I might have followed it just to see.

Adulthood means walking away from a possible leg break. But, more importantly, it also means I can choose a time and go back, and climb that road. Maybe just a little, maybe more, maybe just to see where it leads, maybe to peer through at the end and catch a glimpse of the Good Folk at their revels.

Not that I wish for such a thing…but I could, if I wanted to.

And that makes all the difference.

King and Gemini

Spent most of the holiday yesterday working, of course. I didn’t mean to, I just sat down to tinker with a scene that had been giving me trouble and…the next thing I knew, it was lunchtime. After shambling out to eat, I decided I had too much momentum to quit.

The next thing I knew, again, it was time to turn the oven on and start making dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve fallen into revisions like that, and I’m grateful it’s finally happened. Momentum is better than drag.

This morning, standing on the deck while the dogs went about their business, I could see my breath. The days are still warm, but the nights are becoming crisp. The year has truly turned, thank goodness. I can’t wait to see the back of 2018. It hasn’t been as bad as some other years, at least not personally, but I will be extremely glad to shut the door upon it and kick a wedge underneath to keep it closed. Too much bad luck happening to people I care about, and too much fascism in the air.

I’ve also been on a Stephen King jag, my brain rebelling at research reading. I tried Doctor Sleep, but the ongoing misogyny was jarring. I mean, King’s never been a feminist–just look at IT, for God’s sake–but I was hoping for something like the terrible objective lighthouse beam of compassion he turned on Jack Torrance and his alcoholism. I was really, really hoping…but no. It’s been a long time since I set a King book aside; I think Tommyknockers was the last one–but I had to.

Instead, I’ve gone back to his earlier works. Not my favorites, but the ones I perhaps didn’t get the first time around, being extremely young. Like Christine, for example, which is really well-constructed. ‘Salem’s Lot, another hideously misogynistic book, is nevertheless a book that has internal consistency even in its horror.

It’s that internal consistency I miss most when I read King’s newer stuff. The ending of Needful Things was probably the first time I ever saw it slip1, and it boded ill for later. The place where that consistency is truest, of course, is in the short stories and novellas, so I’ve gone back to Skeleton Crew and Different Seasons and Night Shift, perhaps my favorite of the anthologies.2

I’d forgotten John D. MacDonald’s foreword to the last, which is a fine piece of writing in and of itself and has one particular bit I always think of–how writers read everything with either grinding envy or grinning contempt, so to speak. Of course, the fellow who wrote the Travis McGee books could spin a yarn or two, there’s no question.

I’ve stopped asking why the Muse wants particular things at particular times. Right now she wants King, and King she shall have. She’s probably turning over the last batch of research reading I stuffed into my head in her hands, humming, while she finds all the edges and polishes them.

That bitch polishes sharp, let me tell you. I’m just glad she isn’t yelling for some Bukowski, who was a champion heavyweight in the misogyny department.

Time to lace up my trainers and take Sir Boxnoggin on a run. Miss B, getting older but not very much wiser (as dogs do) will stay at home today, and that is going to make her a trifle upset. She’ll need some pets and attention when we come home, and will probably chase Boxnoggin around the house, just to show who’s really boss.

We all know it’s her, but she still feels the need to remind the bouncy young Lord van der Sploot that she is the Dowager, and she will not be overlooked. As the Princess often says, I went and got a dog just like me–on both counts. Boxnoggin, like Odd Trundles, is my happy-go-lucky side, and Miss B is my get-down-to-brass-tacks. It probably comes from me being a Gemini.

In any case, it’s time to get back to work. A particularly thorny revision question needs some sweat and feet pounding the pavement to work itself out, and I’d best get started.

Over and out.

A Concrete Win

I needed a win, so I took Saturday entirely off working and bent my back to the remaining seventeen bags of concrete. In other words, I finished the damn patio. It took most of the day and my legs are still rubbery–each bag is 80lbs dry and mixing that shit with water is thankless work–but it’s done. Done, done, done.

And it looks nice, if I do say so myself. The bench will be on the other side once the fresh concrete cures enough to support it, and I might even get myself one of those bowl-type firepit things to roast a marshmallow or two over. And now, of course, the guys doing yard work won’t mow down my hostas and other stuff that will be grown in the empty patches. I can plant bulbs this fall, too.

Come spring, the garden will look…well, not exactly as I envisioned, because there’s always that space between desire and execution, but close enough that I can consider it, once again, a win.

I like that feeling. So, despite my legs being too shredded for a run today–a ramble with the canines and some yoga are all they can handle today–I am content, and ready to go back to kicking this epic fantasy’s ass.

I also got all my Sunday housecleaning chores done, despite moving slow as a damaged locomotive. I had momentum, sure, and I knew where to go, it just took me a little while of chugging to get there.

Each victory’s paid for in a different way, of course. And when my legs recover they’ll be stronger. Until then, I hobble out onto the deck every once in a while and look down at the patio…and feel good.

Plausible or Otherwise

I finished Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter last night, and closed the book with a precise, leaking anger. My grandfather was in the Korean War, and he would never talk about it–at least, not sober, not until the last time I saw him before he died. “It was cold, and it was hell,” was all he’d say.

Reading how the lower ranks were betrayed by MacArthur’s racist hubris and supercilious, malignant narcissism (and how Almond faithfully echoed both) is fury-making, especially with the current malignant narcissist in the White House. And, frankly, now that we’ve had decades of the Republicans toadying to the rich and attempting to roll back the New Deal, it’s enough to solidify my disdain for anyone calling themselves Republican at all. You absolutely know what you’re doing when you self-identify as a racist piece of shit, and Republicans have for decades.

There is no deniability, plausible or otherwise, on that point.

Halberstam’s contortions to pin all the blame, all the time, on postwar Democrats were also maddening. The fact that the Republicans were stoking fear and hatred as a matter of course for their own purposes–look, they only kept McCarthy until he was damaging to Eisenhower, a centrist conservative–cannot be glossed over, but by God, Halberstam tried.

Being a white male historian must be a helluva drug. *eyeroll*

Anyway, I read it as an overview, and maybe I can read the book on the Chosin Reservoir without feeling lost. Of course I’ve set aside some books on Vietnam too, since that war reaped the foul harvest of the Korean War’s mistakes not once, not twice, but over and over again, with chasers of gratuitous careerism and racism on top of each swallow.

Along with research reading, it’s probably going to be depressing as all fuck. At least I have some Laura Kinsale and Violette Leduc set aside as rewards to take the curse off. I am in a complete state of meh, and probably will be for a while now.

*sigh* Now it’s time to take the dogs on a run and let them try to kill me. Sir Boxnoggin is dancing with impatience and whining whenever a squirrel rustles outside, and Miss B is following his lead on bad behavior. I’m glad I didn’t get her an energetic companion when she was younger, or the house might not have survived. As it is, she moderates some of his bounciness, just by sheer dint of being more experienced and tired of all the bullshit.

I know the feeling.

Over and out.

Acid-Test Conditions

Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I thought I lost my socks under my desk, but when I surfaced to look for a flashlight, I found out I’d put them right next to my coffee mug.

I suspect that’s just how today’s going to be. Sir Boxnoggin is In A Mood, Miss B is likewise encumbered by thoughts above her canine station, and the running togs I had set out for today happen to include my least favorite sports brassiere. Woe, woe is me.

I’ve been reading Halberstam’s book on the Korean War, and so far my takeaway is that the Republicans have been self-righteous asshats since the beginning of the New Deal, Douglas MacArthur was criminally negligent of the men under his command, Truman was a lot better than America deserved, and Acheson was at once horrible and completely committed to his country. I can’t wait to switch to some Violette Leduc to get the horrid taste of American history out of my mouth.

On the bright side, I won’t be spending as much time in the car for the rest of the week, and, gods willing, for the next six months. I like having my own transportation, but I’m bloody done with having to eat lunch in the driver’s seat. Food never settles right when one does so.

The dogs are pretty much done with Mum Leaving the House, too. Every time I go to the mailbox, even, they greet me as if I’ve just spent six months in the Arctic and they’d suspected my early demise. Sir Boxnoggin, in particular, gets extremely athletic when welcoming me back from the trek. God forbid I leave my office carrying purse-and-keys, he immediately begins to act like I’m abandoning him to a cruel and inexorably lonely fate. Even watching the squirrels attempt to steal birdseed on the back deck doesn’t cheer him up when I’m gone, apparently, which is hilarious because he’s been here barely a month. I expected him to bond with one of the kids, but I guess since he sleeps on my bed, he’s decided I am The Hoomin What Must Be Dog’s.

Not that I mind, the goofy little fuzzbutt is a fine companion. I’m just surprised he picked the enforcer of the household rather than one of the kids to cling to.

If I can just stay home for a few days I can get these revisions done and this book off my plate again. I knew the next production process after Afterwar would be difficult, and true to form it’s another big, complex book I’m uneasy about pulling off. Acid-test conditions seem to be the order of the day in almost every aspect of my life, lately, and I’m ready for things to calm down a bit.

That’s all the Tuesday that’s fit to print. Next comes a short run with both dogs, which will no doubt be a cavalcade of interesting and agility-producing experiences. Maybe the bees will give me a pass today.

Over and out.