A few words on whimsy

Hiya! I know,  it’s been a while since I’ve written here.

There are reasons! Since coming home from ConcCoction I’ve been BUSY. Focused. Working hard on revisions to Sharp Edge of Yesterday and the new book/new series Ghost Town

…Yeah, okay, so I’ve been distracted by Dark Life Things ™ and reading a bunch and also I went on a 7-day cruise that was scheduled before the DLT meteorite crashed into the roof of Chez Herkes (metaphorically speaking. We are well. All is well. It’s all resolved, just sad, and…I’ll blog about it eventually.)

I realized while staring at the amazing blue of the Caribbean waters that Spouseman & I hadn’t had a recreation-only vacation in three full years. Cons, yes, but those are fun work. Family visits, yes, but those are…family fun. This was an actual getaway.

Now I’m back  and feeling re-energized, with 76k words of Ghost Town and 2  new scenes of Sharp Edge under my belt. (amazing how much writing time is freed up when I don’t have to think about shopping, or meal planning, organizing, scheduling, or cleaning…and I don’t mean the doing of those things necessarily, it’s the *thinking about* them that I find creatively exhausting. )

ANYway. I’m filing the experience under “Holy wow, I never expected to get to do this in my life, but geez, it was fun!” Someday I will get around to sharing cruise pictures for vicarious travel enjoyment, but it will not be this day.

Please enjoy this picture of  Spouseman & my favorite wedding present. Not the most needed/practical one, nor the one we used most right after the wedding (the bath towels gifted to us by one of my dorm mates hold that place of honor) but it’s the gift we hold dearest, going on 33 years post-ceremony.

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Yes, a kind woman from my church congregation hand-sewed it and gifted us with a quilted stuffed animal. (St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Richmond Indiana. Altar Guild, represent!)

The toy came with a card and some cash (which helped pay our rent in that first lean year of our first scrappy decade) and in the card was written the most important marriage advice we received, hands-down:

“Always keep a little whimsy in your life.” 

We’re still plugging along, me & Spouseman, and we still have Kitty to remind us that whimsy makes the world a better place.

That’s all the all for now.

 

Inside my head, bleak events looming

First, the bleak. In this holiday season, this time of lights, celebrations, and laughter, darker things are closing in–real things not story things– hard, sad family things which are not mine to share in detail.

TL;DR edition: There is nothing good or easy about death’s slow approach. It sucks harder when it’s happening long-distance but not so distant travel would physically impossible or financially crippling. It sucks worst because death watches are not right for everyone, but some people think everyone should be there. (Apologies, that TL;DR was a little TL itself.)

The longer rant: Being present for a loved one’s last days  or moments is NOT necessarily the right thing. For many it is a crucial solace and a way to offer and receive support in grief. But it IS NOT RIGHT FOR EVERYONE, and there’s a cruel side to the accepted wisdom that it is. There is no special magic to “being there.” Pushing someone to drop everything to go to the bedside of a dying relative is a huge mistake.

Everyone’s relationship is unique. Not everyone needs to see a sib or parent or aunt or cousin or grandparent right up to the end of their life. Not in this modern age which often includes a long, blurred twilight of medical intervention. Not if the experience is going to color every memory and deliver deep, bloody damage to fragile hard-won, precariously-balanced mental health.

And that’s all I’m going to say about it now.  I am stressed and distracted and feeling very much the fierce-protector-beast at the moment.

The rest of the things:

  •  Reading: I have snagged up a TON of new SFF titles for my kindle through holiday sales & giveaways. But I’m reading the fluffiest of fluffy romances because I need hapily-ever-afters very much right now.
  • Viewing: I watched all the Lord of the Rings extended editions last week,  then checked out the Hobbit trilogy from the library, and then proceeded through the Lord Of the Rings again afterwards. On blu-ray. For those interested, yes, there is are noticeable differences in picture quality  & sound quality both.

    Christmas hibernation viewing has now proceeded to a from-the-beginning review of Game of Thrones, because Santa & Spouseman picked up the 7th season and we want to catch up. I am skipping all the scenes with Theon after he gets captured by the Boltons.

  • A new category: Submissions:  I have a short story I’m sending out to real, actual magazines. One rejection down, many more to come, I’m sure.  I’m waiting until after the New Year to send it out again, though.

And here’s the latest in searches:

  • Game of Thrones Wiki (lots of character searches, because I’m not up to bonding with characters who are going to die horribly.
  • Balsam Hill Christmas Trees (they had a sale. I HAD TO HAVE ONE It’s beautiful.)

Random cat pic: Scooter in his new Scooter Hut:IMG_5202

No no-context WIP snippet this time. I’m not getting a lot of writing done. The house is cleanish, Spouseman & I have clean clothes, there is fresh food & drink to be had, and I am stress-baking like wildfire. These are victories enough for me. I refuse to judge myself too harshly for not creating more.

And that’s all the all there is for now.

Cruel Winter Blues

One of my best friends died. I didn’t lose him, he didn’t pass on or away, he didn’t cash in or check out, or depart, he died. He was a man of short stature, large appetites, and indomitable spirit, and life killed him as it will murder us all in due time.

It went like this: he felt ill but he didn’t have time to be sick, so he put off going to a clinic until he could no longer breathe. Within a month he was dead,  destroyed by a hyper-aggressive illness that pitted his immune system against his organs and ravaged them faster than his body could fight back. Gone. He loved well, he lived honorably, and he died.

I know the traditional response to loss is to go all carpe diem on shit and art like there’s no tomorrow because damn, there might not be one and there are so many important stories left, but…

I miss him. He was a staunch friend, a better human and a relentless supporter. I couldn’t go back to the monster Marines I wrote for him until I coukd type without leaking saltwater all over my keyboard. And to work on anything else with that story unfinished felt like betrayal.

So I took a few days sitting low and quiet, and gave grief time to sift off life’s main path and settle in the corners where it will stay forever. There was fiction to gorge on, blankets to wrap up in, and good times to remember.

Books:

  • Closer to the Chest Mercedes Lackey.  Valdemar is reliably likable. I needed that.
  • Kingfisher Patricia McKillip. Collect a double-handful of Arthurian-related tales from all over the map, put them in a blender and puree. Pour into a contemporary magical-realism setting. Garnish with delightful trope subversions. Kick back and enjoy.  Snarky side note: I will wave this book under the noses of everyone who starts reciting “Good authors never <insert style quirk here>”  It’s deep, lovely, and dark, but if you’re a stickler for active, stripped down adverb-less prose and have zero tolerance for narrator references, steer clear. It worked for me, and someone must like her stuff, multiple award winner that she is.

Movies & TV:

  • Zero Theorem & Time Bandits I needed a Terry Gilliam evening
  • Hot Fuzz 
  • SHERLOCK!!! Episode 2 was everything I could wish.
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets & Askaban. My goodness they were all so young…

Stories:

Oh, the Berli tales I could tell. There was the time when he low-crawled the length of a driveway and up concrete steps to prove a point, that day he spent a two-mile hike rhapsodizing about the first cigarette he would smoke at the end and his lighter wouldn’t work when we got there, the visit when he showed up on day three of a week’s leave and had a full beard already, the nights he would call at 1AM to chat about some book he was reading because he knew I’d be awake…

Some adventures will find their way into books now. It’s the least I can do. Back to the words I go.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” -George Eliot

 


Note on death euphemisms. Berli had little patience for them, even less than I do. But I know he’d be okay with someone saying he was pushing up daisies, or better, resting after a long squawk.