This month I realized I hadn’t posted here since July, and didn’t want to end 2018 on that note. So, an EOY reflection…and I would say an explanation of where I’ve been, but if you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you know I tend to drop off the face of the earth for long periods.
I try not to do this, and I am working on it. But I think I also need to admit that perhaps my regular schedule is flurries of activity followed by periods of silence.
I feel like I’m saying that a lot these days. Every New Year’s I turn to the past year and scream BURN IN HELL YOU ASSHOLE and then turn to the next year like it’s going to be better. And then it’s not. Or it is in some ways, but worse in other ways.
Anyway, this year is no exception. 2017 was long and hard and yet surprisingly short, and while I’m glad it’s over I also want to hit Pause for a few days because I am so not ready for 2018, y’all.
We got a new tire for my car. Or rather, we got 5 new tires for my car and one of them turned out to work. The first time Mr Katje went to the scrap yard he got a deal on 4 tires for 200 bucks off a 2000 Dodge Caravan — ie, my exact car.
They didn’t fit.
I don’t fucking know WHY, they just didn’t fit. They should have. SAME CAR. That night included Mr Katje lying on the ground looking at this tire he couldn’t get onto my car and saying “Happy birthday, Dear, I got you the wrong tires.”
(Yes, tires were my bday gift. I turned 31 and I got a working car. #blessed)
So he went back and was able to return them (a VERY WELCOME SURPRISE) and got a different one which definitely DID fit. So my car got all fixed up in time for me to drive up to Sechelt.
So mom and I went to the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, or FOTWA, or #SecheltWritersFest, or SCFWA, from August 17-20. We were in the tent selling books with other local indie authors.
We had a great time; I sold 2 books. Pretty good considering the overlap between SFF readers and people who go to festivals like that one is pretty slim.
Then we got back to our respective homes and Mr Katje and I went and watched the eclipse the next day, which was fucking underwhelming. I thought 86% totality was going to be pretty good but it was just disappointing. Didn’t help we couldn’t get any eclipse glasses so we had to look through pinhole boxes we’d made that morning.
When we’re 80 we’ll just look right at it because either medical technology will have progressed to the point where it doesn’t matter and we can just get new eyes, or we’ll be so close to the grave we won’t give a fuck.
Or at least I assume so, as I seem to still be corporeal. (Though my body is disintegrating at an alarming rate now I’m this close to being 30. It is possible I am a zombie.)
It occurred to me today that I hadn’t posted here since December, and that I should probably remedy that, as my last post was about how taking care of Tyee was slowly murdering me and some readers might think I did actually die-by-doggy-daycare (actually, that sounds amazing). At least one might think that if one doesn’t follow my Facebook page, which I’ve been updating more frequently.
Anyway. I survived.
I’ve had some time to reflect on things the past couple of months. I’ve realized some things about myself and how I work, and how I don’t work. One thing I realized is that I do not work well with a set subject for a blog — at least, not with this blog. Every time I try to set myself to write about a certain thing here, I end up not posting for approximately forever. Obviously, this isn’t sustainable.
I’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of this blog altogether and just posting at my LiveJournal about author-y stuff, but I don’t like that idea for one big reason: I like keeping control of my content. Yes, I write over at Medium now, and I continue to place my writing in other places on the web, but at any moment my writing can disappear from those places. This site is self-hosted, and the only way it’s disappearing is if I forget to pay my bills. (Which, ok, not without the realm of possibility, but still. My writing is safer here than it is anywhere else.)
The trouble, I think, with trying to keep to a certain subject matter here is the same trouble I have with “branding”. Being an indie author means I’m supposed to constantly be thinking about my “brand”, but truthfully I find that exhausting. As exhausting as I find most social interaction. I’m not going to cultivate a brand anymore; I’m just going to be myself, and write what I want, and say what I want on social media, and let that be my ‘brand’. I summed myself up as “author, poet, menace to society” and honestly that’s as close a label as I can come to sum me up.
So this blog will remain, and I’m going to go back to posting whatever the fuck I want to post about. I’ve been blogging for 12 years now; you would think I’d figured this stuff out, but I’m a slow learner.
On that note, some writing news!
I took a huge hiatus from writing fiction — about 6 months — but I’m back on the horse again. I had to chase down the horse first, of course, because the fucker had wandered into a nearby saloon and holy hell was he drunk, but everything’s all good now, even if I am riding a very soused horse. I haven’t yet gotten back to my big projects — been dipping my toes with little bits of short prose — but that’s on the table for April. Next month I plan on writing 30K on Anala, Book 3 in The Third Age, and hopefully getting it closer to being finished; I’m using Camp Nanowrimo to help me with this. This means March is dedicated to Camp Nano prep — there’s still a lot of world-building work I need to do for Anala, as well as sitting down and plotting out that book and the book that comes after.
I never set out to write a series with Bellica, and now that I am I’m wishing I’d planned ahead more. But then again, if I had, I wouldn’t be Starbuck in real life.
I don’t know when Anala will be done, but I am aiming for this year, and a publication date of the end of this year or the beginning of next. I’m trying not to rush things though I know people are eager to read the next installment. I’m eager to read it too, to be honest. I’ve got a bunch of scenes in my head of Anala kicking all sorts of butt and I really want to sit down and write them. But I need to respect my process, and how slow I am, which I’ve learned is about as fast as a sloth on downers. So I — and my readers — must exercise patience.
The other big project I want to get to this year is the next book in The Borderlands Saga, From the Ashes. I have a good 30K written on it already, but I need to go back and rewrite and re-plot it out, as well as doing more worldbuilding and planning for the next few books. However, Anala is my current priority, so that book comes first.
I also have a bunch of smaller projects this year — short stories, new Atherian myths, and the like — and I’ll announce them as/when it becomes appropriate. And besides the fiction, there’s my poetry and creative non-fiction as well, so this is a busy year, writing-wise, for me.
That’s the news for now. I will be writing here again, though about what I really cannot say.
Have a great Saturday night (what’s left of it), and I’ll see you soon!
While driving up to the mountain: please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window GOOD BOY
While walking up the mountain: it’s DECEMBER WHY IS IT SO WARM
Where’d he go? Oh there he is.
Mountain for first dog walk since before broken leg = bad choice.
Why did I decide to veil? There are zero other humans here and it feels like I wrapped my head in a basting bag.
Benches. Benches would be amazing. Why don’t trails have benches? It would be a great for those of us who are disabled enough to need them but still want to go for hikes in the woods on occasion. Or who are forced into it by circumstance, such as the circumstance of dogsitting for your mom.
Holy shit this hill is steep.
Where the fuck is the dog?
I did not have enough coffee today.
Ok seriously if there are not going to be any benches WHY ARE THERE NO BIG ROCKS? Like a mile up this hill and not a single fucking rock; come on, this is BC, we’ve got rocks coming out of our ears. WHERE ARE THE ROCKS. And I don’t meant the tiny ones under my feet that pose a tripping and slipping hazard.
Upon reaching the almost-summit: I am not going up those goddamn stairs, you cannot make me, I choose life.
Hey, a rock. Finally a place to sit.
Ok this rock is not that comfortable. In fact it is super uncomfortable.
I’ll take it. It is closer to my butt than the ground.
~watching the dog wander up the stairs to the actual summit~ yeah you can go up there bud but don’t expect me to follow. I am good with this rock. This pointy rock. This pointy rock…that is also soaking wet. And I in my yoga pants.
Still better than standing. Or stairs. Anything is better than those stairs. They are made of eroded death and will surely send me plummeting to the rocky embrace of Mother Earth (FINALLY, ROCKS).
~dog stops halfway up the stairs, looks at me expectantly. I tell him nothing doing, but he can go on if he wants. he sighs, turns around and trundles back down.~
While walking back down: jesus this hill is steep. HOW DID I WALK UP THIS THING?
Hey, my ass is so numb from the cold rock that I can no longer feel the wetness from said rock. Bonus!
Where the fuck did the dog go? I hope he doesn’t get eaten by a cougar.
I hope that spider I just flicked off my arm lived.
Man, I’ve made it all the way up to the almost-summit and almost all the way to the bottom without slipping on a rock and twisting my ankle—ACK.
Spoke too soon.
Oh hey, there’s the dog. And the car. Thank gods, the car. Can I nap now?
On the drive home: you know I bet my thoughts would make a pretty funny blog post. I should write them up when I get home and post them.
please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window GOOD BOY
And then it took me until tonight to finish writing them up because taking care of Tyee is a big job and I am so tired.
In other news, yes, I am currently dogsitting for Mom. This means I am up in Powell River and trying to view the seclusion as a retreat for writing and knitting. More of the latter than the former at this point, but I’ve only been here 2 days.
And I had more to say, I think, but Tyee just came up and pawed at me insistently, so I am off to take him for another walk, despite being exhausted.
ETA: I could not post this before the walk and am in fact posting it after the walk. Now it is hopefully sleep times?
Hearing that your mom “might have cancer again” 6 months out from your wedding.
Putting it that way seems selfish, I guess, but I’m not trying to say that I care more about my wedding than I do my mom. I’m saying that having my wedding being so close puts things in starker perspective than the first time I heard my mom had cancer.
The first time I heard my mom had cancer, my radar was clear of any major life events that I wanted her to be part of — so the bone-deep terror that struck me, paralyzed me, didn’t get a chance to really extend to “What if she won’t be at my wedding/see her grandkids?” beyond vague thoughts of such far-off, seemingly fantastical events. The only event that I thought she could possibly miss would be my graduation from University (though, honestly, if she’d died 5 years ago I doubt I would have graduated last year, or at all).
I remained worried, terrified, until she recovered from surgery. All her assurances of “They caught it early; it’s just a few polyps at this point. They’ll just snip them out and I’ll be fine,” did nothing to calm my fears. All I could hear was “Mom has cancer. I’m going to be alone.”
I have abandonment issues. They’re deep-seated; I’m aware of them; I don’t have the money to get therapy to try to work through them right now. I have coping skills to get through the common triggers.
There are no coping skills for hearing “Mom is really sick and we’re pretty sure it’s cancer again.”
And the thing is, it’s even scarier this time. *This* time, we’re not sure it’s cancer, not right now. *This* time, we are waiting for a firm diagnosis. *This* time, mom is _visibly sick_ in a way she wasn’t 5 years ago. 5 years ago you never would have guessed cancer was setting up shop in her colon. Now? I look at her and feel icy claws close around my throat because she’s definitely ill and _we don’t know why_.
All we know right now is what’s working and what’s not. Mom’s taking a bunch of her supplements to deal with the weakness, which is caused by iron anemia (supposedly probably related to cancer “somewhere in the gut”), and the pain. She’s sleeping a hell of a lot more than she used to, and down in the library, on the guest bed that has a remote to lift her partially upright in the morning. She’s unable to work. She’s lost so much weight she doesn’t really look like herself anymore — not like the woman I’ve known my whole life, who raised me.
I look at her and my heart skips beats, my breathing becomes short, and the terror descends. I have been paralyzed with this terror for almost two months now, feeling helpless and out of control.
The truth is, we have no idea what the next few months hold. I’m trying desperately to keep it all together, to keep our lives going as normal as possible, but it’s the most difficult thing I can think of right now. All my spare energy is twisted up with praying that she’s okay; that it’s not as serious as they think; that in a few months she’ll be back to her old self. But I don’t let myself cling to those ideas, because that sort of hope can be deadly.
Mom’s sick, so my life is on hold. She doesn’t want it to be, of course; she doesn’t want things disrupted for me. But the very fact of her illness means things are emotionally disrupted for me — and these things are fucking dominoes. Everything else comes tumbling down.
My mom is sick and all I can think about is my wedding, wondering if she’ll be there to down the aisle with me, to give a toast at the reception, to have fun with family and friends, to witness me making one of the best decisions of my life.
All I can think about is my wedding, and all I can feel is fear.
I’m more a fan of “Wolf Haus” but mom likes WolfHouse, so there you go.
Overheard at WolfHouse
That’s a fantastic coffee! Accompanied by RAT DANCE.
Hey, Tyee is helping us renovate by ripping up the linoleum in the kitchen!
Oh, fireplace, I love you. Let’s elope.
Pack Leader, I’m worried about Mistress. WHY IS SHE ALWAYS GOING TO THE VET?
I think the oven is possessed.
WolfHouse is having a bit of a rat problem right now. No biggie…except, well, the rats are huge. Apparently they’re Norwegian Roof Rats, and they come into houses because they don’t like the cold. My reaction to this:
“Norwegian rats who don’t like the cold? What, did Norway send us their defective rats? What the hell? I DEMAND BETTER RATS.”
::shakes fist at Norway::
Yesterday morning I woke up to a loud thumping sound from the kitchen. It was a massive rat, caught in the trap under the sink. A while later another came by, and they started making more noise under the cupboard, thumping all over the place. Mom dubbed this RAT DANCE and then called the rat man to get him to come take care of the rats.
Tyee was very interested in the rats, and started going into Hunter Mode. He scraped and scrabbled at the floor, hoping it would help him get into the cupboard where he could hunt the rats. This prompted me to make a comment about him helping us renovate by ripping up the kitchen linoleum. Not really, though; that stuff is tough.
We would have let him hunt the rats if there were no danger of said rodents getting into some poison, but there is. Mom was at the end of her rope a while ago and put out poison for the things. She felt awful but didn’t know what else to do — she’d bought a humane trap and every time the rats took the treats out and left it still open.
The original trap didn’t work, the poison didn’t work, and now we have the Rat Man and his traps. He sets the trap up, the rats get caught, he comes and gets them.
If the rats could mind their own business and leave us alone we wouldn’t have to do this, but they get into our food and keep us up by running around in the walls and basically make life very difficult, so we are forced to deal with them even though we’d prefer not to hurt or torture them. Being human can be pretty rough on your soul sometimes.
The fireplace and I are in love. I stand by it and it warms my butt up. This is obviously true love. We are going to elope.
Tyee is worried about me, because I am always going to “the vet”. Wednesday I had surgery at the hospital, Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment, and Friday I had a follow up dentist appointment. Tyee can smell the medicine on me each time and looks at me worriedly before cocking his head in confusion, as if he’s saying “But you have no balls to cut off! What could they be doing to you?”
It’s honestly not that hard to confuse a wolf-dog.
(Also, you’ll notice Tyee uses the wrong pronouns for me. That’s okay; I don’t ask him to try and grasp the intricacies of my genderqueerness. I tried to explain to him a few times about it and he just looked very worried and confused, and then licked my face to show me he still loved me.)
Mom’s oven is broken. The CPU is fried. The burners work but the oven(s) (pizza and regular size one both) won’t turn on, nor will the warming centre (which mom calls “the hob”). The buttons are broken, basically.
However, this did not stop the oven from turning itself on to 350 degrees Farenheit in the middle of the night on Thursday, nor from beeping at me unprompted throughout the day Friday.
It is possessed. We are getting rid of it and perhaps performing an exorcism.
Never a dull moment at WolfHouse, that’s for sure.
By interesting I usually mean in the curse sense of the word, May you live in interesting times, etc etc etc life has been kind of sucky.
But whatever. If you’re going to say anything about me or my mom, you have to admit we bounce back. Things break and we pick up the pieces and soldier on.
Last night a lot of things broke. Literally.
We were sitting outside to eat dinner, as we have for a few nights since getting the pavilion back up on the concrete back porch. It had been down during the winter, but mom wanted it back up so I helped. Even with the millions of spiders living on it.
The pavilion frame itself is kind of broken. (I’d show you a picture, but I didn’t realize I’d be writing this post at 1 am and it’s a bit too dark to snap a shot.) It’s bent and twisted like a gnarled oak tree. I’m surprised it stays up, to be honest.
The table and chairs we eat on are nothing special: a plastic table with fold-out metal legs that we can fold flat and take in the car to events if needed, and two plastic lawn chairs. Barely deserving of the name.
We’d finished dinner, mostly — I had, at any rate, and we’d both eaten our steaks, but mom was still working on one of the sides. While we ate Tyee sat by the table, on a leather lead held by me or mom. We’re trying to get him used to the idea of sitting by the table outside while we eat.
I got up to take him to his tie-out chain so he could have a walk around the yard, relieve himself, etc, before mom took him to dog park after dinner was over. Well, he was having none of that. We’d tied him up earlier and he didn’t want it to happen again.
So he bolted back to mom’s side. I sighed and hooked his leash onto something while I went back to deal with the tie-out, and then came back over. It hadn’t taken very long. In that time he’d managed to work himself under the table, out the other side, and around my empty chair. He then walked back towards the table, and his leash caught on my chair and dragged it. It stuttered on the concrete flooring, as plastic lawn chairs are wont to do.
And Tyee flipped. his. shit.
He bolted from the evil chair that was going to eat his soul, heading anywhere away from it. Of course, this hooked his leash on the table, and started to drag it after him and into mom. So he pulled harder. The table continued to drag, pushing mom over in her plastic chair. I rushed forward to catch her and lower her gently to the concrete ground so she didn’t hit her head. Tyee started running back and forth, in full panic mode now, and flipped the table over, spilling dishes and gravy everywhere. He ran into the pavilion and started to knock it down. Mom was now on the ground; I was holding her and pavilion up, half crouched amid a mess of broken dishes and gravy everywhere. I finally managed to give Tyee an order to stop, and he did, shaking in fear.
All that took place over the course of ten seconds. It was like a bomb going off. One moment, peaceful dinner time. The next moment, chaos, confusion, destruction, loud noises, and pain.
Once I ascertained the pavilion would not fall on mom and that she was ok for a moment, I took Tyee over to his chain and tied him up so he’d be out of our hair while we fixed everything. We managed to get the pavilion more or less righted and then mom out of her chair and on her feet. She and I started to pick things up, and she managed to drop the table on her foot. Yes, the broken one.
Casualties list: 2 plates, 2 bowls, a gravy boat, mom’s favourite wine cup (blue-green-purple porcelain), all of the gravy, the remainder of mom’s dinner.
I threw the broken dishes into the bushes, where mom throws all her broken pottery. (This is an old trick to keep wolf-dogs from lying down in your fucking garden; Sila we’re looking at you. Now she uses it to keep other animals out of her yard. It works.)
When I went back inside I realized I was bleeding quite a bit from several small cuts in my legs and on my feet. As soon as I’d done as much cleaning outside as I could before we just needed to hose down the porch, I stepped into the shower to wash off blood and gravy.
During all of this Tyee was basically having a PTSD episode. When we’d done all the work and mom was in the shower I let him back in the house and hugged him, trying to calm him with some torso compression. (This works for dogs, just like it works for humans.)
Mom took him to dog park and I sat down and tried to calm down. I also got some lanterns out of the shed that doesn’t have a giant wasp’s nest on it in preparation for my flamekeeping shift tonight.
Every 20 days I light a flame at sunset and keep it burning until sunset the next day in honor of Brighid, one of the three main deities I worship. (This flame does not have to be an fire-flame, and when I go to bed I blow out my actual candle and “light” an LED one.) This is called my “Cill shift” because I am a member of a Cill, or a group of people also dedicated to doing Brighid’s work in some capacity. We each have a shift in within the 20 day cycle, except day 20 — that’s the night that Brighid Herself will keep the flame.
Brighid has within Her jurisdiction many things (like all gods, She can not be reduced to one facet). The things that seem to come up most often, however, are healing and the bardic arts. Poetry, writing, singing, the creation of art. (So really, is it any surprise I’m Hers?)
I don’t often talk about my religion on this blog (I usually leave it for The Mundane Mystic), but today’s Cill shift did sort of tie into my main story for this post.
It’s been a rough week, and I spent some time sitting and staring at the three candles I’d lit for Her at sunset, wishing that I was more on top of things. Every Cill shift I swear I’m going to do something, and every Cill shift something like tonight’s dog freakout happens. Or Brighid hits me in the head with a cosmic frying pan and knocks. me. out. Often for 20 hours. I get a really good sleep every 20 days, quite often.
But in the ensuing hours, I’ve come to feel better about my complete lack of being able to do anything. Tyee started to calm down after we lit the lanterns, all three of them sitting on the righted table, casting shadows over the dark porch. He realized we still loved him, and all was well. (And then, after extinguishing the other two, I brought the last lantern inside, and it spooked him. Which makes me seriously question the veracity of those images of Hecate, torch in hand, with Her dog beside Her.)
And, ok. I’m writing. Here, in my blog. I’ve done some serious writing tonight, and tomorrow when I wake up and get some coffee I can continue work on From the Ashes, which I’ve done over 5,000 words on in the past 2 days. I can also work on editing The Jade Star of Athering in prep for sending it off to my beta readers. Slowly, but surely, I will finish these projects.
All creative work is within Brighid’s realm, and I’m doing that stuff. So I can stop beating myself up about these things and just be happy with what I can accomplish.
It’s honestly one of the hardest lessons to learn. I’ll still be learning it for years to come.
But every day, I get a little bit closer to knowing it in my bones. Inch by inch, stitch by stitch.
Last night, after midnight so really this morning, I discovered something terrible.
There is malware on two of my sites. This malware redirects you to porn or something else if you try to visit the mobile version of the site. It has no affect on the desktop versions that I can see, but use an iPad or phone to access the website and you’re going to get porn. Or taxi services. Or something.
This site is not one of the affected sites. The affected sites are, of course, my mom’s site and my publishing site.
I stayed up most of the night trying to fix the problem. Today is mom’s birthday and I wanted it to be…well, malware-free at least.
At around 4 am I noticed there were buzzing insects in my room (which is also the library). A lot of them. A lot of black and yellow buzzing insects.
Fuck. Wasps. About 8 in the room and TEN ON THE WINDOW OUTSIDE, TRYING TO GET IN.
Pictured: THE HIVE OF DOOM
I tried to close the window but I’m not strong enough. I was talking with the fiance and he asked if there was anywhere else I could sleep. No, I said. There’s the bed in the library or the floor in the kitchen, the floor in the bathroom, or the unfinished floor in the living room. That’s it.
What about upstairs on the floor with your mom and the dog?
Then I’d wake her up, and how better to truly ruin her day?
I decided I’d sleep in the library and just pray to the gods I didn’t get stung. After I announced my plan to the Ogre, the wasps got angry. They heard what I’d said. They didn’t like my plan. They started divebombing the lamp, flying close to my face, buzzing with purpose.
I said a hurried goodbye to the Ogre, clicked off Skype, and grabbed my pillow and blanket and ran.
I slept on the bathroom floor. I figured, it’s heated and I can put towels and bathmats under me. Shouldn’t be too bad.
I was wrong.
Mom found me at 7am. She got me up and sent me upstairs to sleep on her bed and get an actual rest.
My back still has not forgiven me.
And then, as if sleeping on tile wasn’t enough for my poor body, at some point during my blissful sleep on mom’s bed I woke up and got up on one elbow, as if I were about to leave the bed. I then fell back asleep in that position and woke up a few hours later, still up on one elbow. My entire arm and left side had gone numb. I turned over onto my other side and the feeling started rushing back, undulating waves of numbness and tingling, dancing out blue and green in my brain.
I ended up getting up around 2pm. Mom was not in a good mood, but the wasps were gone from the library at least. The malware is still on the websites, and I am still trying to fix it.
But this story is a perfect example of how amazing my mom is. She woke up on her birthday to find me curled up on the bathroom floor because of a wasp infestation — another problem she has to deal with — when she’d gone to bed right after we discovered the malware problem. She went to bed with bad news and woke up to bad news, and you know what she did?
Sent me to have a good sleep in her bed.
Then she started baking koek.
With a still-broken foot.
And now we’re at Breakwater Books, where she plans on hosting the Live Poets’ meeting. (If anyone shows; summer fell on a Saturday this year so everyone is out enjoying the sun. If no one shows, then she and I get to sit and write and read for a bit, which is awesome.)
I’m fairly certain that, ’twere I in her shoes, I would have crawled into my closet, cried, and left the Ogre to deal with the mess in our lives.
I don’t know how my mom got so good at handling crises. But she’s fantastic and she keeps me going, even on a day that’s supposed to be for her.
And even on days when it gets to be too much, when she just has to have a good cry, she does so. She lets herself feel her emotions. And then she picks up the pieces and keeps going. She doesn’t let anything get her down for very long at all.
So. You may wonder: how do I write such resilient, persistent, strong and brilliant female characters in my stories?
I have one hell of a role model.
PS Mercury is retrograde right now. I’M JUST SAYIN’