A Slice of Life With Cats: The Infamous Window Kitty Incident

Since we nearly had a reprise of the Window Kitty Incident earlier this evening, and it occurs to me that we could also use silly stories, I give to you the Infamous Window Kitty Incident.

Torin, my ancient tabby cat, is a window cat (or he was, until he turned out to be somewhat allergic to direct sunlight, because he is gigantic and also a wee, delicate flower with all sorts of interesting health issues…secondhand pets, I tell ya).  Given his druthers he would happily spend his entire day sleeping in a window in the sun.  A number of years ago, shortly before we found out about the sun issue, we lived in a place that had a big bay window that he loved to loaf in and spent most of his time there.

Now, the folks next door had a pair of cats, who looked rather unnervingly like my two boys, Torin and his big brother, Ajah, who was a big, black cat with gorgeous green eyes and the personality of an extremely melodramatic 13-year old girl.  Since neither Torin nor Ajah went outside, it pretty regularly gave me a heart attack to see one of them wander by.

One afternoon, the tabby decided to hop up on the low concrete wall under the bay window, which came up just high enough that he was able to stand on his hind legs and peer in.  Torin was, as usual, napping in the window, and woke up to see a cat that looked exactly like his mirror image staring at him, practically in his nose.  He panicked, bolted under the bed (timid does not come close to how nervous he was in his youth), and did not come out for several hours.

Later that night, my then-boyfriend and I were watching tv in the living room, when Torin hopped back up onto the window platform.  All of a sudden I hear him start growling.  I look up to see him fluffed up, ears flattened against his skull, tail lashing, and he is snarling and hissing and clearly Very Pissed Off.  I jumped up to grab him and get him away from whatever it was that had him actually freaking out, and nearly got bitten.  He was completely target locked on the window, where there was a tabby face looking at him, snarling and-

Reader, I lost it.  I sat straight down on the floor, laughing my ass off, because my gigantic wimp of cat, who needed to be taught that any new toys were not going to kill him and had once run away in fear from a piece of kielbasa, was attempting to straight up murder his own reflection.  Mind you, this is a cat who normally passes the mirror test, but he was utterly convinced that the Window Kitty was the cat next door, and Window Kitty Needed Killin’.  Window Kitty needed killin’ so much that I eventually had to herd 17 pounds of snarling, angry cat it into the bedroom and lock him in for a while, and for the next few weeks, he was not allowed near the window at night at all because he was itching for a rematch.

I still have to keep an eye on him sometimes, because every now and then he gets a look in his eye that clearly says he’s still looking for Window Kitty and wants to settle the score once and for all…

This Semi-Quarantine Life (plus a long overdue shop update).

So….I’m climbing the walls already.  How are you all doing?

Still alive and breathing, here.  Managing to keep myself from freaking out, if only barely at times. Trying to find a way to make art while my brain wants to do nothing more than crawl into a blanket fort and hide.  Maybe I’ll just paint a bunch of monsters with blankets until I feel better, or you feel better, or someone feels better.

I went out for a drive on Sunday and went to visit one of my favorite places; the terribly named “Ponyhenge” over in Lincoln.  No, I didn’t touch anything and there were no other people around (I made sure).  Even when I leave the house, I’m aggressively avoiding other humans.  Ponyhenge is, well….it’s A Thing.  I’ll write more about that separately, because it deserves it’s own post.  Suffice to say, I avoided getting stolen by the faeries, but only because they were feeling kindly disposed…

Woke up with serious brain squirrels yesterday, so I didn’t get my originally planned list of things done, but I *did* manage to jury-rig a makeshift lightbox out of an old cardboard box and some paper, so I can take better photos of stuff I make and get them listed in the shop (can’t sell anything if I don’t have it listed!).

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It’s not the best looking thing, but it’s what I could do with what I had on hand, and it’ll do for the time being.  It doesn’t do too badly, and with a little tweaking it’ll work better.

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Later on this week I’m expecting delivery of a couple of shiny new toys (why my budget is out for other stuff): a tabletop tripod, remote shutter control, and a microphone for my smartphone.   I’m going to be figuring out how to do some videos and vlogging.  I don’t promise I’ll be any good at it, but I do promise to try my best (seriously, please don’t expect high-end quality stuff out of me…not only am I new at the idea and have to learn, but I’m not working with high end recording and editing equipment).

Going back to the lightbox conversation, I did get a couple of small, simple paintings listed in the shop yesterday.  Brain weasels willing, I should be getting more stuff listed at least once a week, if not more often, now that I’ve got some way to take pictures with reliable lighting and we’ve gotten my desktop computer back up and running again.

One other thing I’ve decided to do for the time being is to unlock posts to everyone for a bit.  I feel awful about the idea of paywalls, even temporary ones, when pretty much everyone is stuck inside, scared, and in need of distraction.  I *really* hope folks will continue to subscribe to my Patreon and/or chip in as they can via my tip jar (located on the top right corner of the webpage) or Ko-fi , because this is my only source of income, and with the quarantine and everything, my chances of finding a Day Job right now is more or less non-existent.

That’s it for me, at the moment.  How are you all getting through?

Silk Ribbons and Story Bones: Traveling In Times Of Pandemic.

I’ve deleted and rewritten this post from the blank page up at least three times in the last 2 days, because every time I blink, things have changed again.  I’m just going to give in and go for a debrief of where things stand and what I’m going to be up to now that we live in the time of pandemic and everything just got an order of magnitude more stressful and complicated.

The situation:  I live in Massachusetts, which was officially declared under a state of emergency on the 10th, since we’ve got a few cases of Covid-19 here. 95 as of yesterday, most related to some jackass having contracted it in Italy, who decided not to self-quarantine and go to a conference in Boston (I have Opinions on them, and they are *deeply* unkind).  Mostly what that means right now is that the state can do things like tell people to work from home, cancel events, and request federal aid to deal with the situation more effectively.  (Not getting into my opinions on the fed. response because jfc…)  The good news is that I am pretty low risk for exposure, between my un/self-employment and Himself having already been between job sites (he’s a Union electrician, so this is normal in the winter) before anything got started, plus we’re somewhat hermitish, as a general rule.  This is also good, because I am uninsured and have bad lungs (birth defect), which means that if I do get it, I’m basically fucked and it’s been nice knowing y’all.  I’m not going to sugar-coat that one; I am one of the folks that’s high risk for ending up being written into the lists of the dead, and I freely admit to being more than a little scared of that prospect.

However, I’m holding onto the fact that I *am* very low risk for exposure, I am trained in how to avoid contact contagions, and for once, my agoraphobia and mild neuroses about germs is a useful thing.  The household plan is to hermit as much as possible for the next few weeks and go from there.

What does that mean for my travel writing?  Well, it does put a massive roadblock across on my plans for the spring, that’s for sure.  I had been planning to start checking out some of the local touristy type places as well, now that the weather’s getting nicer, but those will have to wait for now.  Instead I’ll be focusing on finding story bones out on the road to sing tales from, because I can do that without actually having to interact with people beyond putting gas in the truck. So more stories of myth and memory.

I’ve also been starting to reacquire jewelry-making supplies, and while I’m going to have to figure out a workaround for not having all of the beads I was hoping to have, I do have an assortment of wires and strings, and am waiting impatiently for a package of sari silk ribbons to arrive, to make necklaces out of.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll return to my earliest jewelry-making habits and see what I can make use of from twigs and seeds and stones collected from the woods nearby.

More artwork and getting artwork posted.  Working on talismans and trying to get caught up on stuff I should have sent people a while ago.  That sort of thing.

So…Interesting Times, y’all, eh?  I don’t know about you, but I *really* want some boring for a bit.  Also, a nap.

Speaking of a nap, it’s past 2 in the morning and I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.  Good night, all.  Here’s to things getting boring really soon.

Sunset In Satan’s Kingdom

It was getting late in the day and I had been driving for hours.  The highway signs at the deserted intersection directed me to my choice of three different states but, to be honest, I wasn’t even sure which one I was in at that point.  My legs and back were screaming at me that it had been too long since I had last stopped to stretch, and my head was informing me that if I did not put caffeine and maybe some Tylenol into myself, it was going to produce a world class headache and then where would we be?  Sighing wearily, I turned the truck into the parking lot of the store at the corner to see about caffeination and getting my bearings again.

Iced coffee and a few minutes of walking around later, and I was starting to feel better.  Getting back in the truck, I decided it was probably getting to be about time to make my way home, since I hadn’t really found what I was looking for and it was getting late, anyway.  I turned my GPS on and started to tell it to steer us home.  Before I tapped the “Home” box, though, a name on the map caught my eye.

Satan’s Kingdom*.

Huh.  Well, that’s a thing.

I noted the distance from my location, and considered going to check it out.  It was only about 20 minutes west of where I was, but detouring would put me at least an hour out of my way, and I hadn’t brought anything that would pass for dinner with me.  The last 100 calorie packet with all of four almonds, a cashew, and two sliced up dried cranberries was not going to cut it.  As I weighed my options, the opening notes to “Sympathy For The Devil” came drifting out of the radio speakers.

That answered that question.  I switched my GPS’ destination and pointed the truck toward Satan’s Kingdom.  I know a hint when I hear one, and that one was loud and clear.

The highway was empty and the area was pretty much just trees, pavement, and the occasional run-down old house, and that was about it.  I mean, credit where due, if you’re going to go looking for a town called Satan’s Kingdom in god-knows-where Massachusetts, the area was doing its level best to provide the appropriate atmosphere. Definite A+ work, there.

The GPS instructed me to turn down a very narrow and winding side road and out into the woods. It was paved, I’ll give it that.  I gave my GPS some serious side-eye when, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, it announced “Arriving at destination”.

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Um. Right.

Also, it’s a switchback road.  That comes to a dead end.

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The road looks like it continues further, and if I wasn’t wearing a skirt and boots without good traction, and it wasn’t maybe half an hour until full dark (the sun was already below the trees and it was overcast), I might have considered hiking in, but alas…

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Since a hike was out, I decided to call it a day and go back to my original plan to head home.  So much for this trip, I guess?  I mean, interesting side road, but definitely not worth the hype.  I questioned the radio telling me to come out here.  It didn’t usually steer me wrong, but here I was, looking at an actual dead end.  I got back in the truck, turned around, and started back on up the road.

When I got to the main road that I’d turned off of to get to this particular section of hinterlands (there’d been a few houses and a wide field area), I noticed an old cemetery set back from the side of the road and decided to check it out.  It was still light enough, and I do have a fondness for old cemeteries.

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As I turned from the cemetery to get back in the truck, I was struck by the strange desolation of the area.  I mean, sure, some of it’s the fact that it’s winter, it was overcast, and dusk, and it’s probably much more inviting in the summer, but it had a Feeling about it…it reminded me of the feeling of standing on a widow’s walk in November, looking out over the sea…

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It was eerily quiet.  A place like that, I’d have expected to hear snowmobiles, or dogs barking, or something, but there was nothing but the sound of my truck’s engine idling and my own breathing.  Vaguely disquieted, I got back in the truck and turned out onto the main road and heading back toward home again.

Not a few hundred feet down the road, something caught my eye.  I slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road and stopped to look at the big, old house.  I didn’t remember seeing it on the way in, and that alone bothered me a bit.  I notice houses like that, and I swear I hadn’t seen this one.  Of course I pulled into the driveway that ran up one side.

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Not creepy at all…

As I drove up, a rabbit bolted out from where the driveway curved up and around behind the house.  It stopped and looked at me for a moment, before running toward the back courtyard that I could see the edge of.  I had an urge to follow it, to see where it was going, but decided that following a rabbit toward the old, abandoned house at dusk was probably not the best plan.  I settled for simply parking, and walking back to the edge of the road to take a picture of it.

I felt like it was watching me the whole time.  I fully expected to see someone looking back at me, but windows remained dark.

I took a couple of quick pictures in the fading light, and then turned to go back up to my waiting vehicle.  As I did so, I nearly jumped out of my skin.  There was a boy, maybe 10 or 12, with a pale, rangy dog sitting next to him, standing on the other side of the road behind me, looking at me.  It was a long, straight road, and there hadn’t been anyone walking along it, nor in the field across the street.  I don’t know where he came from, but there he was.  I nodded at him in greeting, but he just stood there, watching.  I went back up to where I had parked.

I’ve seen a number of horror movies in my life, and let’s be real, this was a classic horror movie setting if I’ve ever seen one.  Big, abandoned, old house in a remote New England town named Satan’s Kingdom just before dark?  Check.  Wildlife luring you further in?  Check.  Creepy child with dog staring at you?  Of course.

I’m not saying it was haunted, or that the boy was anything other than a normal, real boy, but ya know….the signs were all there that something was a little odd that day and I figure it’s better safe than sorry.  I got back in my truck and headed home before I ended up becoming a ghost and haunting the place, myself.

I did apologize to the radio for doubting it, though.  It was right, and it was worth the detour.

 

*It’s an unincorporated township that no one seems really sure how it got its name.  There’s a few theories ranging from early colonists getting driven out by the local Native tribes who lives there, to a preacher delivering a particularly fiery speech on Sunday, only to come out of the church to find the woods on fire, and making some remark about Satan’s Kingdom coming to challenge him or something.  No one really knows, though, and for whatever reason the town never became a town.  Eventually it ended up getting folded into Northfield, but still retains it’s name and not much else.

Of Unicorns, and the Treachery of Bullfrogs.

A story for a dark winter’s night…

A long time ago, just yesterday…when I was just a wee little river nymph of maybe 10 or so, we lived in a little town (barely more than a village, really) in an old white house with black shutters, where my mother grew roses and lilies in the yard.  Behind the house, across a small road, there was a swamp where, I was convinced, a unicorn was known to visit…

Now, my mother tried to convince me that there was no such thing as unicorns, not really, but let’s be honest; when you’re the daughter of a witch and a river some things are just not to be believed.  A unicorn visited the swamp and that was that. I just needed to wait long enough and I would see it.

I would go out into the swamp in the early morning before the mists were burned off by the sun, and in the evening as the last rays of daylight sank into the shadows, day after day, week after week, month after month, but still there was no sign  Yet my stubborn self persisted.

One day, after months of nothing but failure (though a developing appreciation for the sunrise and sunset) , I decided to try something different.  I went up the road to where a feral apple tree grew and I picked the best apples I could find, reasoning that unicorns were distantly related to horses and horses love apples so unicorns probably did too, but were likely more interested in wild apples instead of the boring ones from the market.  I stashed the apples where my mother wouldn’t find them (she didn’t approve of my habit of eating them, because they were probably full of worms and she didn’t believe that I could tell which ones had worms and which ones were fine, and besides, you can just cut the wormy bits off and the rest of the apple was fine and well, it was just easier to hide them) and went on about my day, secretly planning.

That night, when I went to bed, I pretended to fall asleep and, when I was certain that it was late enough for everyone else to be asleep, I quietly crept out of bed and, taking my stash of feral apples, snuck out of the house and out into the swamp.

It was a full moon that night, or near enough, and so I didn’t really need to carry a light to find my way through the small patch of woods and to the edges of the swamp.  It was so bright and beautiful, and it looked nothing like I was used to it looking, and it was wonderful. I knew from all of my research that unicorns were drawn to singing and so I sang little songs to the water and the frogs and the summer night’s wind and watched the light play on the water while I sat on a small rock that was the perfect size and shape to sit comfortably on for hours.

The mosquitoes were, to be honest, more than a little annoying, but I was determined to ignore them.

I admit, I got a little bored after a while, and noticed that there were an awful lot of frogs around the water’s edge…green frogs, wood frogs,  pickerel frogs, tiny little peepers, and of course, great croaking bullfrogs. I fed them some of the mosquitoes that were trying to eat me, because the circle of life is a beautiful thing and in the swamp sometimes it’s eat or be eaten, and I had Opinions about being on the menu.  Besides, it never hurts to have friends in watery places.

Then, after a small age, I heard a faint splash in the distance.  I stopped singing to listen, in case I was mistaken, but then it came again.  This was it. I knew it. As the sound drew closer, the frogs and crickets grew quiet, and so did I.  There was a Feeling in the air, like something magical approached. I was as still and quiet as a mouse, and as I watched, I saw a faint glow shimmering through the grasses and water-logged trees.  It was here! The unicorn! Any moment it would step through the grass into view and I would see it in it’s pale, moonlit glory, and I would offer it one of my carefully chosen apples and it would accept my offering and eat it and I would be the first river nymph in generations to befriend a unicorn and…

*CROOOOAAK CROOOOAAK CROOOAAK*

There was a frantic splashing and the sound of hoofbeats running into the distance.  Angrily, I looked down at the edge of the water at the base of my rock and there I met the flat, bored gaze of the one who had chosen that, of all moments, to decide to announce TO A UNICORN that this bit of swamp was his.

A big, fat, bullfrog.  Unrepentant and shameless.  I HAD JUST FED HIM MOSQUITOES AND HE HAD BETRAYED ME.  I glared at him, and he just looked at me, unblinking. I wished owls on him.  I wished herons and turtles and weasels on him. He was unmoved by my wrath, treacherous thing that he was.  I threw an apple at him but he dodged and stared at me from a little further down the shore.

I knew that there was no chance of the unicorn returning again that night, and besides, it was getting early and I knew that the longer I stayed, the more likely it was that I would be caught and get in trouble for wandering off into the night.  Leaving the remaining apples for anyone else that might come by, I crept out of the swamp and snuck back into my bed before my absence was noticed.

I tried a few more times, but never again did I hear the unicorn nor see the gentle glow of it’s horn, as it made its way through the swamp.

 

To this day, I still blame that frog for scaring it away.

 

Never trust bullfrogs.  They will always betray you, no matter how many mosquitoes you give them.

The Oracle of Roads

“apantomancy. Noun. divination by chance meetings with any objects that present themself, most commonly animals, but can also be numbers, objects, weather, etc.”

For most of my life, I’ve had a fascination with divination, chance, symbols, superstitions, and other things of that nature.  My mother got into astrology when I was little (it was the 80s…it was sort of A Thing) and I grew up around mediums and tarot readers and all that.  As a result, my interests on those lines were fostered from an early age, tempered by the fact that my father is a complete skeptic who believes in nothing he can’t see for himself.

Over the years, I learned a bit of everything on that front, and a whole lot about how divination and oracles work, at the fundamental levels, and have slowly built my own system of sorts.  Because I’m me, there’s a whole lot of road and travel-related parts to it.  Flipped coins at crossroads, the position of the crows and hawks, the patterns of windblown leaves and snow on pavement, the roll of dice to answer a question, that sort of thing.  Many times, I’ve considered formalizing it somehow into something that doesn’t require being out on the roads (because sometimes one needs some insight and can’t go out driving around until the answer appears), but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.

Until now, that is.  I’m finally working on creating the Oracle of Roads as a tangible thing.  It’s a bit complicated because, while much of it can translate to a card-based format, like The Waitress or The Frustrated Hawk, some things, like The Sentinel Crow, or The Statue, usually involve variables that don’t simplify and translate as easily.  With The Sentinel Crow, for example, generally things like whether the bird is on the ground, in a tree, or on a light-pole, as well as what direction it’s facing, are all factored in, so how to translate something like that is tricky and would probably work better as something like a round disc or thrown object.

Alternatively (she mused aloud), I could start by writing down all the variations and offering readings based on them while I get the larger logistics of format and spreads sorted out….

Things to ponder, I guess.

Life With Cats

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As folks who follow me on Twitter know, my old tabby cat, Torin, ended up at the emergency vet in the middle of the night about two weeks ago, and since then my life has basically been on hold while we try and get him back to health again (current working theory is that Grandpa has most likely developed a case of IBS in his old age and is having a bad flare-up).  Since the initial medication we were trying required me to be giving him something every few hours, I’ve been more or less stuck, and with the kitten being a pain in the rear end, I couldn’t even really work on much else.  At risk of TMI, incontinent cat plus rambunctious kitten who insists that litter box time is play time, means I’ve been having to babysit Oisin extra carefully to give Torin a few minutes of peace to do his business and cleaning up some really gross messes when the kitten got away from me and I couldn’t stop him in time.

Not ideal for being able to do any kind of creative work, especially since neither cat is currently allowed in the work room until this is resolved.

Sadly, that initial medication didn’t really do much, so we had to move on to the next step, which is not a great one for an elderly cat with a congenital heart murmur: prednisolone.  Thankfully this is just a once a day topical application, wait two hours (to keep Oisin from licking it off of him, since social grooming has become a daily occurrence that we don’t want to discourage), wipe off any excess gel, and then I’m free to go on about my day.

Happily, this means that, barring additional issues, with a few adjustments to the household scheduling, that’s easy enough to manage.  (Everyone hope that this works and is just for this month and that he’s back on track afterward.)

Of course, now that I have the ability to leave the house for more than a couple of hours again, it’s supposed to be abysmal weather for the next few days, because spite.

Crossroads, Clerics, and Roadside Lore.

At long last, I am free of the World’s Most Annoying Plague (there’s a head cold going around that’s basically all sinus drainage all the time) and am back on my bullshit again.

Last weekend, while still down with said plague, I had a day where I was feeling well enough to start getting a bit stir-crazy from being stuck inside for days and, even though it was supposed to snow, I decided to go out anyway.  The road was calling and I needed to answer it.

Normally, a spontaneous drive mostly involves me pacing around the house for a couple of hours before realizing that I’m super restless and should probably grab a bottle of water, some snacks, and my keys and go for a drive.  This day was different.  There was a sense of, I don’t know, Fate or something behind the restlessness.  As if the Road was telling me that there was something I needed to see out there, and it would not be denied.  This was not to be a typical drive, but was one that I should approach as the routewitch that I am.  This required preparation and everything I brought with me was important, and as such it was important that each item be chosen with care, down to the drink that I brought with me.

As I stood before my tea selection, I considered the feeling that I was getting from the Road, and narrowed down to two options….blackberry-sage, or a chai blend from a company that no longer exists, called Crossroads.  I couldn’t figure out which was more appropriate, and so I consulted the dice.  The dice said that the Crossroads were the key, and so that was what I filled a travel mug with (it’s a chai made with lapsang and darjeeling, so it has a harsh, smoky finish…perfect for the message I was getting.), and went out on the Road.

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There is a flat, steely kind of light to the world before a snowstorm, and a silence as loud as a warning. As the snow begins to fall, the powder skitters and slides across the pavement, ghostly as mist and shadow.  It is an eerie beauty.

As I drove and the snow fell and the light faded, I began to wonder why the Road had called me out onto the roadways, and if I had misunderstood what it had told me, but the pull remained strong, a whispered “wait and see” sighing through my soul.  I drove on, through the woods and the farmland and the towns slowly being blanketed in white, while the other travellers faded off the roadways to curl up by warm fires.

Then, just at the edge of a small town, at a place where two roads crossed, I saw them; a small band of Juniper Monks, gathered along the edge of the road.

No one knows for sure who, or even what, the Juniper Monks are. Often mistaken for burlap-wrapped evergreens (hence their name), they are rarely seen, and then only under specific conditions.  They appear in severe weather, generally snowstorms, but they have also been reported during heavy rains, as well.  Why they gather during these times is not known, and speculation ranges from harbinger to messenger to things more sinister in nature.  Most, however, believe that they are a kind of roadside guardian, appearing to warn travellers of dangers and protect them from harm.  Some carry talismans in their vehicles, tucked into glove compartments or hung from mirrors, to invoke their protection when venturing out in bad weather. Most go their whole lives without ever seeing them, and it is considered great fortune to encounter a band of them.  To be honest, I had believed that they were a myth, myself; a figment of the imagination, brought on by the dim light and swirling snow playing tricks on one’s eyes, but now, having seen them for myself, I can’t deny their existence.

Having seen the Monks, the Road signalled that I had seen what I had been called to see, and that it was time to go home.  I came to a roundabout, and returned back the way I had home, though the Monks were gone by the time I drove past the intersection again.

I’m thinking about acquiring a talisman to carry in the truck with me, as I often find myself out in inclement weather.  If I’m able to locate some, I’ll try to get some for others who may also wish to invoke the protection of the Juniper Monks for their own travels, as well.

 

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A Thousand Small Lights Can Illuminate The Darkness.

The truck is once again safe and road legal, if still in need of other repairs.  Whoo-hoo!  *does happy dance*  I’ve been trying to make sure I get out for a drive every day, even if it’s just to run errands, and get myself back in shape and my truck and I reacquainted with one another.

It’s good to be back out on the road again.  The weather was unsettled and mercurial from an incoming cold front the other day, and there were several snow squalls blowing through the region.  As one of them, a particularly fierce one, enveloped the truck in a wall of wind and snow, hiding the world in swirling white, I had the amusing realization that the tension in my shoulders had just released and I was utterly relaxed.  Yes, in a whiteout, I was completely at peace.

There is a kind of serenity that descends in the narrowing of the world when driving in severe weather.  You have no choice but to focus on navigating and steering the vehicle you are in control of, and nothing else.  Your whole being coalesces around the machine that is an extension of your own body, feeling the surface beneath your wheels, the shifting, blinding white that obscures the world and reduces your vision to almost nothing, and so you have to listen to the road’s voice to tell you how find a safe path out of danger.  There is no room for anything else, and that is strangely freeing.

As a reward for trusting the road, I beheld the glory of the afternoon sun over a snow-dusted field, and it was worth it.

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It occurred to me, as I was watching the squall devour the sun and the world, that I often see things while driving that I would love to be able to get photos of, but driving and taking pictures isn’t exactly the safest or smartest combination of things.  I got to wondering if there was a way to manage it, and I think I might have found a way.

My phone charger/holder is mounted on the windshield, and is one of the fancy multi-articulated ones, meaning that I can adjust it to whatever angle my little heart desires.  So, on today’s drive, I tested it to see if I could position it so that all I had to do was tap the screen and get a shot of the road, and it worked pretty well.

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Yeah,  that’ll work well enough.

Also, I accidentally ended up in Rhode Island on today’s drive.  I wasn’t expecting to cross a state line, but I apparently found a different route to get there from home.

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I was a little disturbed by the fact that it was pretty deserted, to be honest.

The main issue now is that, while it’s about as complicated to work as changing the radio station, it does require me to take my eyes off the road a little longer than I care to, to make sure I hit the right button on the screen, which…not great.  Fine on totally open roads, like here, or while stopped, but…  So now I’m researching Bluetooth or other solutions for telling the phone to operate the camera, which will let me keep my eyes on the road, my hands on the wheel, and not get me in legal trouble (distracted driver laws are A Thing around my region…we won’t mention the fact that I rarely have two hands on the wheel at any given time, and no one cares if I take a swig of coffee, but gods forbid you think about a cell phone…I have Opinions about the scope of those class of laws, even as I accept that I have to follow them).  So far, it’s looking like mounting a Bluetooth remote on the steering wheel is a viable option.  I’ll be able to situate the phone where I want it to be aimed before I get on the road, and then just click a button when I want to, without ever taking my hands or eyes off the road.

In art news, I finished another small painting that I’ll be listing for sale shortly.  I’m not going to lie, it was a hard piece to do.  The news these last few days has been more grim than usual and it’s difficult to paint whimsical things when everything in the world is screaming and fire.  It’s hard to remember that this is the time when I need to be creating more whimsy, to counter the screams and remind people that there is still light and good things in the world, and that it is important.

Thus, a smol, sad monster who knows they are not very big and they can’t do anything  Important to make the world stop being terrible, but it can light a candle and hope, oh so very much, that it can add just a little more light to hold the darkness at bay.

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It is a wee little monster, only on 4 x 4 paper, but it’s doing it’s best and that is all I, or anyone, can ask of it.

Of Fish, Frozen Frustrations, and Further Adventures In Figuring Things Out.

According to the Terry Pratchett Twitter feed, 2020 is the Year of the Condescending Carp, and I think this is the Universe informing me that it is important that I paint more fish.  I mean, my fish are pretty opinionated, so it seems like a logical conclusion to me.  MY TIME HAS COME!

*ahem*

This week’s project has been working behind the scenes to get myself organized, sort out a work schedule to balance painting time, writing time, and traveling time, and prep for kicking into gear by Monday.  One of the things that I’m working on (and why it’s taking some extra time) is getting a bullet journal set up.

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This should prove interesting.  I’ve never attempted to do one before, so there’s definitely a learning curve.  Still, the fact that it’s somewhere between a chaotic day planner and record keeping system that is built to organize it’s own chaos into a useful configuration seems to be something that might actually work for me, for once.  Gods know, I need to do something.  Most regular daily planners just don’t seem to work with my brain (and don’t have enough space for me to include a proper to-do list, require me to carry around too many things, and honestly, most are just plain boring to look at), but trying to use a journal to keep track of things results in not being able to find anything when I need it.

Bullet journals are designed to correct for all of that, so that seems like it could maybe be a win, once I get the thing set up and ready to go.  Plus, I get to draw in it and make it pretty!  No, I was absolutely not up until 2 AM falling down the bullet journal rabbit hole on Pinterest, nor did I start a board for ideas, either…

One of the big things dealt with today was my truck.  Not only was it overdue for an inspection (and therefore not actually road-legal), it’s been having brake problems for months.  This has been a major factor in why I haven’t really been traveling much.  I didn’t want to be out driving through a steep pass or in traffic on the ‘Pike and have my brakes give out, because that would be Bad.

Turns out they wouldn’t give out, but they were in the process of locking up, because calipers.  Again.

Frozen calipers are the recurring bane of my existence.  Every couple of years, I’m having to deal with the same stupid issue, no matter what vehicle I have, and it’s enough to make me scream.  Calipers aren’t cheap, and it’s frustrating to have to keep coming up with around $1,000 again (this time around, Himself is paying, and I hate that I can’t take care of it myself).  I finally asked whether this is just exceptionally bad luck or if this is an operator problem, and the answer is well, sort of both.  See, vehicles are meant to move.  Like, every day.  Letting them sit for even a few days causes problems.  One of those problems is, in fact, rusting in the calipers, which eventually leads to them freezing up.  Since I regularly go in cycles of heavy travel followed by weeks of not going anywhere, this is probably why this is a constant problem.  It then gets compounded by not wanting to drive with bad brakes, which speeds up the process.

Looks like I’m just going to have to travel more!  Oh, darn…whatever shall I do?

To that end, I’m working on making a list of places to check out and explore.  This is slightly complicated by the fact that it’s winter in New England, but I’m sure there’s plenty of places for me to investigate that are indoors.  This also means that I’m working on overhauling my funding and income plans, because even local travel isn’t cheap and the truck still needs several more repairs (it’s got at least 2 leaks that are going to need fixing soon, as well as a new battery) before it’s going to be fully up and running smoothly again.

A note for my Patreon patrons that I am going to be changing the names and info in the perk tiers within the next couple of days.  If there are perks you’d like to see offered, I would love to have your input for this!

And now, after all that, I am informed that Oisin has never been petted ever, which is a tragedy (and a total lie) and I should stop doing the thing that is not actually petting him.  Off to obey my furry overlords!

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