So my dog tried to kill me this morning.

Well, really, it wasn’t her fault. She saw a squirrel across the street and twitched, thinking to bolt in front of me to go get it. Unfortunately, this was right where I tripped and fell last time. So down I went with an odd sense of deja vu, tore up my hands nicely, jolted my shoulder and my right knee this time. Just to change it up.

We run with the leash wrapped around my waist; I thread her collar and the leash through the handle a few times to make a pretty secure knot. It keeps it short enough that she can’t get far enough away to hurt herself, but it also means that her darting in front of me is a hazard. She’s gotten a lot better about it, true–most of the time I run right through her, not to be mean but just to teach her that she is not to get in the alpha’s way. But every circuit in her little doggy head fuses when she sees one of the little tree-rodent bastards. It would be funny if it hadn’t ended with me bleeding and actually crying from frustration and pain while lying on the sidewalk.

Yes, you read that right. I burst into tears. The pain wasn’t really that bad, but I was running off some frustration from earlier in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just…some days, a killing spree seems like a good idea just to get things all cleared up and moving. Especially when I get horrendous and frustrating career news and other silly, stupid, complex problems pile up on me before 9AM.

So we ran the rest of the day’s mileage and I limped home, still bleeding but drained of adrenaline. Which has been a boon today, honestly. Other than just one (totally justified, because hey, I was BLEEDING) crying fit, I could have had several and a psychotic break too! Big fun. As it is, I have just taken to calling Miss B “Killer of Joggers” to add to her other honorifics, and she doesn’t care because she enjoys the accompanying chest-skritches and pets and loves. In fact, she rolls over and grins, panting happily, while I scratch her belly and recite her long list of titles, including “Mighty Squirrel Chaser” and “She Who Will Not Eat Dry Kibble.”

And you know, as long as I can still raspberry her fuzzy little tummy, things can’t be all bad. Even if she did try to murder me.

But if you tell anyone I cried, I’ll have to hurt you. *wink*

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Why do these things always end up with me barefoot and screaming? It must be Fate or some shit. I have to tell you, though, it’s been so long I think I don’t remember what happened next.

HAHA JUST KIDDING. It’s burned into my tiny monkey brain like the sight of Sean Connery in Zardoz. Anyway. When last we saw Neo, the cats, and my champion herding Aussie, they were all in my sunroom. Neo had expressed his thankfulness for me saving his psychotic squirrel ass by screaming and invading my house, and the cats had taken a vote and decided that they were going to chase the little furry demon. To be fair, Tuxedo!Kitty wanted revenge for being kicked in the head, and Lemur!Cat just wanted to chase something small and snackable without a window in the way. Cranky Old Duck Cat just wanted to be sure nobody was going to eat his share of the kibble. And then, Miss B had gotten loose, and every circuit inside her doggy skull just fused together when she saw an opportunity to heeeeeerd something.

Let’s halt the action here for a second, just press the pause button, as it were, and see what everyone is doing.

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There’s an interview with me over at the USAToday Happily Ever After blog. In which I talk about stealing time, how I know when a series is done, and what I say to people who look down on genre.

Also, this past weekend was the first annual Author Faire at Cover to Cover Books. It was a roaring success, even if I do say so myself. Picturespam after the jump!

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I may have kicked the flu virus in the nads hard enough to flee its clutches and live to fight another day. Still, I’m sucking down hot water infused with lemon and shredded ginger like there’s no tomorrow. One can’t ever be too sure.

I have Authorfest photos that I should put up, but that’s going to have to wait.

* A lot of you write to me asking about the cover models for the Strange Angels series. Guys, I do not know. You would do better asking the publisher, Razorbill. As an aside concerning Dru and the gang, I am now getting a bumper crop of mail from teachers, librarians, and youth counselors. Dear Readers…thank you. Thank you very much. I am glad to hear what you have to say. Bless you.

* Here, have Bruce Wayne’s medical report. I haven’t laughed like this since Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.

* Jane Austen might have died of arsenic poisoning. Note that the poisoning was most likely accidental, say, a medicine to help her rheumatism. Nevertheless, I have a mad idea of a lady novelist dead of arsenic, resurrected by a form of clockwork science, and shambling toward those who pique her with the jawbone of a literary critic clutched in one rotting speckled hand…

* Oh yes, and you get a twofer: two short stories by me, released through Orbit Short Fiction. Unfallen, the prime story, was inspired to a great degree by Slacktivist’s (ongoing) reading of the Left Behind series so we don’t have to. (Incidentally, Mr. Clark, if you would like a gratis copy, please do email me.) Also included, I believe, is The Last Job, an Izzie Borden super-short that pleases me quite a bit, and is a sort of homage to Hammett, Chandler, and Woolrich. I rather like Izzie and would love to write more shorts featuring her.

I do realize I need to post pics from the Authorfest and write the second half of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom. I’m getting there, I promise. IN the meantime, I am fueling my recovery with pita chips and ginger water (this is the first time I’ve felt actually hungry in days) and sheer stubbornness.

Over and out.

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“SHIT!” I screamed, as I skidded around the corner into my kitchen from the garage. “NO NO NO! NOOOOO!”

The squirrel wasn’t listening. The dog, attached to the couch, was barking hysterically.

When we last saw Neo, he had voiced his battlecry and flung himself into my unprotected house. This was a fine way for the goddamn rodent to repay me for not leaving him in the road to die. Gratitude may be a virtue, but I really am beginning to think it’s one this little asshole doesn’t possess.

Several thoughts flash through one’s head when one has inadvertently let a demonic tree-rat into one’s house. Let me see if I can list them in some kind of coherent order.

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It was one of the few times in my life when I wished I played some form of incredibly violent team sport. Not only could I have used, say, hockey armor or an American-football helmet, but I also could have used some backup.

After all, I was going into the garage.

When last we left him, Squirrel!Neo, stunned and possibly concussed (that’s a word, right?), was curled in a cat carrier in my garage. He had a bowl of shelled peanuts, a bowl of fresh water, and I’d made sure the cage door was locked. I spent a restless night, hoping I wouldn’t have to dispose of yet another rodent corpse come dawn. I was running out of room in the Squirl!Semetery. Though I wouldn’t put it past another one of the little bastards to rise from the grave again.

So, the following fresh warm morning, I got up, nervously checked out the websites of a few sporting goods stores, and thought of dealing with the questions I would encounter if I went in and bought a whole set of hockey pads, helmet, greaves, the works. Kevlar seemed like a good option. Plus, a few hockey sticks would be a good addition to my Sekrit Weapon cache. Bonus if I could roll them in tar and ground glass.

Look, I was just being careful, okay?

But in the end, I decided that one wounded squirrel in a cat carrier was probably not going to require me dressing up like a modern-day secutor. I mean, Neo was probably feeling a bit under the weather, although I doubted even at that moment that he would be harboring so much as a tiny shred of gratitude toward the big pink monkey who had gotten him out of the road and shelled his fucking peanuts. Probably, I thought, he’s sleeping.

That was my first mistake.

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Another predawn sighting of Phred the Coyote. The Bunny Brigade was taunting him, but they lost another one of their number. Ah, the circle of life.

Anyway, when last we met, I was telling you about the mysterious peppering of Squirrel!Neo with pinecones. I saw Steerpike!Squirrel slinking away afterward, but that wasn’t, so to speak, proof enough to convict. It was, however, enough to make me wonder and keep an eye out.

Picture this: a cloudy afternoon, the squirrels going about their business. You know how, in a group of people, a sudden silence will fall? (Hermes is among us, they used to say.) It’s kind of like that in the Kingdom of Backyard. There will be a crowd, and all of a sudden, everyone will disappear except for one lone squirrel. He’s got a crooked tail, and he’s a little bigger than Yon Average Yard Rodent. He glances around, sees that he is alone, and immediately is on high alert.

Because that’s when it strikes. A pinecone, a small rock, any type of ammunition. Always when he was alone, always from an unexpected direction. Other squirrels would show up and give him curious looks as he stood, shaking his fist and chittering angrily, or desperately trying to convince them to stay under cover.

The first stage was anger, of course. He’d be pelted, and would take out his aggression on the first thing he saw. Most of the time it was other squirrels. But this particular afternoon, he was bombed from the plum tree with something that looked suspiciously like an acorn. (I don’t know where the hell it came from, there’s not an oak tree for a few miles.) Neo hit the dirt, rolling, and just barely avoided getting hit in the head. He came up, furious and looking for the perpetrator…

…just as Romeo!Jay, his brother-in-arms, glided down to land near him and shoot the breeze. Romeo doesn’t talk much–he saves most of his words for Juliet!Jay, as we saw during the Corn Pops War. But he does like to hop around after Neo and his cadre, occasionally getting in a screechy joke that will make all of them laugh. I get the idea that with Mercutio!Jay around, Romeo doesn’t often get a word in edgewise, so he’s learned to make them count.

Neo went off.


“JESUS CHRIST!” Romeo!Jay screamed, taking off in an explosion of feathers. “WHAT THE HELL, YOU FURRY DUMBASS?”

Your Humble Narrator stood in the sunroom with a watering can–yes, I was watering my goddamn bonsai, that’s a whole ‘nother story–and a slack jaw, observing this.

All Squirrel!Neo’s considerable fury and frustration had boiled over. He leapt after Romeo!Jay, screaming like a banshee. Yes, he was making THAT SOUND, like a wineglass, Sam Kinison, and some steak caught in a possessed blender. Romeo, normally an easygoing guy (he used to be a little more wound up before Juliet noticed his existence, now he’s pretty damn calm for a jay), spread his wings, let out a warning screech, and pecked Neo.

On the head.

It was a perfect kung-fu peck (where the hell do all these animals learn their goddamn martial arts, I’d like to know), and it rang Neo’s chimes pretty good. Romeo hopped back. “WHAT THE HELL?” he squawked again. “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR TINY LITTLE MIND, DUMBASS? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?”

Neo lay stunned on the grass for a moment before hopping up. “YOU FEATHERED BASTARD!” he screamed. “OH YOU FEATHERED FUCKING BASTARD, I’M GONNA–”


With that, he spread his wings again and took off, brushing over Neo’s head. The King of Backyard ducked as the jay buzzed him, and Romeo was gone over the house in a flash of blue feathers. The King shook his tiny little rodent fists and bayed furiously at the cloudy sky.

That’s when the other acorn pasted him right on the noggin as well. This one came from the plum tree too.

Behind Neo.

“Holy shit,” I breathed, looking down at Miss B. She cocked her head, wondering what in the yard was holding my attention so much. “Somebody’s gaslighting Neo.”

I got the canine equivalent of a shrug–she can’t see out into that part of the yard when she’s under the picnic table in the sunroom. (Don’t ask.) I looked up just in time to see Neo’s tail disappearing into the juniper hedge next to the plum tree as yet another acorn-shaped thing plowed into the ground behind him.

I waited.

Sure enough, after an interval, who should come sneaking down the plum tree but a certain reddish squirrel?

“You bastard,” I muttered. “Oh, I don’t like you.”

Steerpike!Squirrel glanced at the house as if he’d heard me. He flicked his lean reddish tail twice, smoothed the fur on his tiny head, and I could swear to God he smiled before vanishing into the hedge after the sorely-tried King of Backyard.

I had a sinking feeling things were about to get ugly.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Aug. 22nd, 2011 09:53 am)

As in, I have neither. I mean, dignity was pretty much shot during my first C-section; if it hadn’t been, motherhood would have finished it off right quick. There was that one time an almost-psychotically-sleep-deprived me mistook a tube of Desitin for toothpaste, and didn’t notice until I’d brushed my top teeth.

Yeah. Anyway.

You would think dance would have taught me grace. Nope. I am capable of amazing feats of dexterity while avoiding fists or when moving too quickly to really think about it, but grace? Nope. Not me. I’ll settle for not hurting myself nine times out of ten.

Those tenths, however, usually end up being doozies.

So, last Friday I was out with my climbing partner S. She talked me into cocktails. Not just any cocktails. We were going to have dress-up-like-real-ladies cocktails. It was the inaugural event for The Dress–wait, did I tell you guys about the Dress? I found it in the J Peterman catalog. First dress I’ve bought in YEARS. It fit (well, anything with a side zipper has a different value of “fit” than my usual “if I have to contort to get into it, it doesn’t fit” rule) so I couldn’t send it back. It’s a very light pink. With polka dots. And a bow. ANYWAY. I wore heels.

That was probably my mistake.

We met for lunch and a little shopping, and there was a very nice little boutique…where I proceeded to trip on a step and fall full-length.

Now, I know how to fall, so I only got a bruised knee. S had never seen me fall without a rope, so she was a little perturbed. I reassured her I hadn’t broken anything, blamed the heels (“if I would have been in my BOOTS–” I said, and she gave me an eyeroll that could have won at the Olympics and a stern “Don’t start, Lili,”) and we continued. The funny thing? The cocktails came afterward.

Yes, I managed to fall flat on my face while stone-cold sober.

Cut to this morning. Miss B and I are out for our usual five miles. Some of the sidewalks we run on are fairly cracked, the trees shading them have managed to heave up blocks of cement inch by inch. I know where all the bad cracks and edges are. We’re in front of the church, on a piece of pavement I’ve passed over easily five hundred times by now…


Yep, flat on my face again. Skinned my right palm and my right knee, bumped my shoulder (I went loose and rolled sideways to shed momentum), my left thumb got a bit battered (I do NOT know how, don’t ask) and I found myself staring at concrete right in front of my nose.

Miss B, of course, thought this was a new game. One she was not quite prepared for, but gamely ready to give a go at. “Alpha’s thrown herself on the ground! Should I too? What’s my role? What are my motivations? HALP SHOW ME WHAT TO DO!”

“Oh, fuck,” I muttered, which cheered me up immensely. If I’m cussing, I’m okay. It’s only when I get really quiet and say something like “Oh my goodness” or, more frightening, “Oh, fudgesicles,” that I know I’m really hurt and shit’s about to get ugly.

Miss B pranced, getting the leash wound around her front leg. I pushed myself up and took stock. Just a bit of skin lost and a little bruising. Nothing broken, sprained, torn, or pulled. Good deal. I untangled the dog, chirruped and gave her a treat, and we were off again.

For another four and a half miles.

The good thing about a bad fall is that the adrenaline tranquilizes me for the rest of a five-mile run. I got through the four-mile mark before I began to feel winded in the least. Miss B kept waiting for me to play the game again. I suspect she had some idea of her role the next time I went tumbling. I further suspect that self-appointed role will make it incredibly difficult for me to gain my feet again.

Oh, well. I am philosophical about my lack of grace or dignity. If I can’t have either of them, I will at least settle for persistence. And not wearing heels. Unless absolutely forced to. At least they were the Capezio character shoes. I can run in those, and I can even fight, if need be…

…but that’s another blog post.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jun. 21st, 2011 09:02 am)

Three miles on the track with Miss B. this morning. There were a couple other dogs, so of course she went mad. She wants to be friendly sooooo badly, but her manners are atrocious. We’re working on it.

Also, my darling 40-pound dog tried to kill me this morning. The track is at the local middle school, and they were testing and repairing the sprinklers for summer. When some of the sprinklers turned on near us, she headed for the safest place around–right between my feet. While I was running. I didn’t break anything, but it was damn close. I haven’t made an amazing leap like that since…well, ballet, really, or my last barfight. Of course, since the leash is wrapped around my waist, she came with me. it was an interesting fifteen seconds or so.

Also in the Cat and Dog Follies this morning: Tuxedo Kitty is in another bolt-and-bounce phase, which means Miss B. views him as a magical food-producing machine she can’t get too close to, but must watch carefully in case the jackpot occurs.The kibble isn’t even chewed when he horks it up–just moistened a bit. Miss B. thinks this is a glorious snack. Tuxedo Kitty goes right back to the bowl after every hork. It’s a Circle of Life I just don’t need to be involved in. Though I have found that catnip spray will disrupt Tuxedo Kitty from staggering back to the bowl.

You read that right. I got my cat high to stop his binge-and-purge. Hey, whatever works.

Also, I found out that Miss B. will never starve. Not as long as the squirrels keep burying peanuts in the backyard. It’s like she’s a peanut-hunting machine. The squirrels are less amused than I am.

Time to load up on choco donettes and head back into the wilds of the copyedits. Submerging in 3…2…1…

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Too much to explain. Let me sum up.

* An interview with me, and a giveaway, over at CJ Redwine’s place. I am interviewed by a were-llama. Also, part 2 of the giveaway next week involves JEWELRY. Trust me, you want to be in on this.

* The Wall Street Journal went concern-trolling for pageviews again. Dame Jackie responds a lot more politely than I would have, Diane Duane hits it out of the park, the Guardian weighs in, and #YASaves hits trending. I thought of posting my own response to WSJ’s pearl-clutching idiocy, but in the end Jackie and Diane did it better than I ever could, and I don’t want to link and feed the troll more pageviews. So there it is.

* Kristen Lamb on training to be a career writer:

Athletes who compete in decathlons use a lot of different skills—speed, endurance, strength. They walk this fine balance of giving an event their all….without really giving it their all. They still must have energy left to effectively compete in the other events and outpace the competition.

We writers must learn to give it our all….without giving it our all. The better we get at balancing our duties, the more successful we will be in the long-run. Writers who fail to appreciate all this job entails won’t be around in a year or three. They are like a runner who sprints at the beginning of a marathon. They will fall by the side of the road, injured and broken.

So today when you have to squeeze in that 100 words on your break from work, think I’m training. When your kids hang off you as you write, picture that weighted sled. Play the soundtrack to Rocky if you must. (Kristen Lamb)

* Want to see me climb? We’re recording ourselves on routes so we can nitpick our performance. (By “we” I mean “me and ZenEllen, my bouldering partner.”) Here’s some from today: an inglorious failure at a bouldering route, then a second attempt where I stick the damn thing. I’ve been working this route for a few weeks now. You can also see some of my tats, and the Official Belt Of Urban Fantasy. (Long story. I had to buy one, after that.)

And now I’ve got to spend the first half of my writing day in alternate-Renaissance fantasy France, and the second half in contemporary paranormal YA. The braincramps are fun to watch–my face squinches up when I shift gears and go from one to the other. Good times, man. Good times.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 18th, 2011 06:06 pm)

Something has happened.

Something awesome. Something wondrous. Something…gnomish.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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Oh look, let’s get rid of federal funding for school libraries. Because we don’t want anyone other than the rich kids in private schools to be literate, right? It might give our middle and lower class kids ideas. Crazy ideas, like equality or the right to basic education or something.

You can hear me snarling, can’t you.

Speaking of kids, last night I was on Punch and Cake Duty for the Princess’s Honor Society shindig. Which basically meant I was In Charge of wrangling a dozen to fifteen kids, corralling them and keeping them contained with setup and preparation to feed over 60 people cake and punch. I have never been so glad of “that catering experience that almost killed me almost a decade and a half ago.” Seriously. Highlights of the occasion included:

* taking a butcher knife away from one kid and informing him that if there was going to be any stabbing, I was going to be the one doing it

* answering the “what will we do if the punch runs out” question about twenty times

* announcing we would NOT be spiking the punch with anthrax, booze, or spit, because we needed those items to take over the world after the upcoming Armageddon-Rapture-whatever-thingummy

* repeating “WE DO NOT RUN WITH THE CAKE TROLLEY, YOU BEASTLY LITTLE THING” at a volume high enough to penetrate a teenage boy’s skull

* showing a couple girls how to wipe a cake spatula clean. Seriously, they don’t teach this anymore? How can you be thirteen-fourteen and NOT KNOW?

* passing the teacher who nominated me for this duty and remarking, “There’s not enough booze in the world.” To which she replied, “Don’t I know it.”

* informing one particular gentleman that the cake table was not a pig trough, and he needed not to be standing in front of it shoveling multiple pieces into his gullet

* giving one teenage girl the gimlet eye and telling her she could have cake after the work was done, and if she gave me any more snot about it she could be on doorway greeting duty

* waving my arms and saying, “Then just make them look pretty for Mama, darlings.” Which is something I haven’t said since the last time I had a crew of big musclebound brutes doing yard work, years and years ago. Good times.

I could go on, but you get the picture. I got home and collapsed on the couch. The Princess loved it, and was pleased as punch (ha ha) that I was there to help out. “I’ve never seen those kids work so hard,” she told me. Apparently I’ve got a future in this sort of thing. A postapocalyptic sort of catering future, but a future nonetheless…

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A reminder: the winners for the Defiance contest are posted here. I have not heard from all of the winners yet! Please pipe up by Friday at midnight PST.

Facing a bright, beautiful, sunny day with a low-grade fever makes the absurdity of everyday life painfully, hilariously obvious. I’m not sure when I’ve been this amused and amazed. I mean, normally I’m in a state of amused amazement anyway–you could say, along with sarcasm, that it’s my natural default. But today just seems designed to remind me that the world is far weirder than anything I could ever dream up, and I’m just along for the ride.

Things I have seen this morning:

* Several couples out walking. The absurdity: invariably, one-half of these couples has a cellphone firmly clasped to his or her ear. A bright sunny day, you’re out walking with someone, and yet the only thing you can do is yap on your phone? Added bonus: 90% of those on the cells are conversing loud enough to be heard across the street.

* A truck loaded with scrap metal slowly cruising the neighborhood, windows down, a cigar-chomping man with a red bandanna around his head singing along at top volume to ranchero music. This would have been okay if he hadn’t been singing rousing round after round of “Row Row Row Your Boat” in merry defiance of his blasting radio.

* A trail of Almond Joy wrappers along my usual route, as if a suburban Hansel and Gretel had pillaged the witch’s house and decided to go a-wandering.

* A fierce battle among six crows for an empty McFlurry cup. Screeching, cawing, wing buffets, it was incredible. We didn’t get to see who won.

* A ragged man weaving down the middle of the (deserted, residential) street, carrying on a (VERY LOUD) conversation with the surrounding air about red cockroaches. Miss B. eyed him with much suspicion. I reached for my cell phone–he looked like he was having a rough time of it. I figured the least I could do was call someone to help restrain him from wandering out into traffic. I didn’t have time. The man suddenly stopped, tore his shirt off, and bolted. Miss B. looked like she wanted to HEEEEERD him, and by the time I had her convinced it wasn’t a good idea because I wasn’t going to run and after all, there was the little matter of a leash attached to my wrist that I was not going to let go of, he had disappeared. The shirt was still lying sodden in the middle of the road when we returned from our walk.

* A squirrel interrupted in the act of apparently trying to make sweet sweet love to a sad, abandoned, punctured football. Despite Miss B.’s usual quivering glee at the idea of even getting close enough to one of Neo’s furry brethren to heeeeeerd it, she just looked at this particular amorous rodent and cocked her head, then looked at me. What, um, should we do about this?, she seemed to say.

“Just…oh, God. Just leave him to it, I guess.” I twitched the leash and we kept going. However, we must have broken the mood, for the lonely squirrel beat a hasty retreat to the shelter of a dead tree.

I don’t even know.

Anyway, that was the morning’s walk. (I could go on and on, but you wouldn’t believe some of the other stuff.) I would blame most of the absurdity on the low-grade fever and exhaustion, but every day is a new cavalcade of weird here in our humble neighborhood. I can’t tell if it’s because I live here, or just because people are really that strange, and now that it’s spring they can just let their freak flags fly.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2011 09:29 am)

Got the end of a kidnap attempt, a messy bloody death, a visit to Wilde the Sorcerer, and the tracing of a shipment of Prussian capacitors to write. This morning was interval training and a multiple-mile walk with Miss B. I think I tired her out. The only drawback is that I can’t nap like she does.

But I have a story to tell you first. Yes, Miss B met Neo the other day. As luck would have it, this was the first Squirrel-and-B interaction I had the pleasure of witnessing, and it just had to be the Terminator ninja death squirrel.

Picture this, a cloudy day, Miss B snoot-deep in backyard grass, Yours Truly leaning against the sunroom wall watching, yawning and holding an afternoon cuppa. It’s a tranquil scene.

From the clouds of blossoms on the plum tree, Neo sallied forth, crooked tail held high. Nobody had informed him of the Glorious Advent.

“Oh, Christ on a cracker NO–” I began. The last thing I wanted was my dog kicked in the head. That would get things off on the wrong foot. Plus, Tuxedo Kitty was never the same after his head trauma. I started forward, tea sloshing, Miss B turned to see what I was looking at…

..and froze, ears perked so far they almost started from her head, one paw lifted, barely even breathing.

How Neo missed an exponentially-bigger animal covered in russet fur staring at him as her haunches slowly sank in preparation, I’ll never know. He sauntered away from the tree, chittering a little as he encountered a small pile of grass clippings. Maybe he thought it was a fine place to bury a spring nut or two. Maybe he was so used to the calm in the back yard he literally didn’t notice. Maybe he was simply overconfident.

The preparation only took a few seconds, but it was long stretched-out nightmare time for me. You know those dreams where you’re running, but everything’s made of lead and you just can’t move fast enough? Yeah. Like that.

Still deadly silent, Miss B bolted.

“Watch out!” I yelled, hot tea slopping in my cup. “HE KICKS PEOPLE IN THE HEAD!”

Now, I was prepared for a short sharp flurry and a howling Miss B. She’s up on her rabies shots, though–it had been less than a week since her last jab.

I fully admit I underestimated my dog.

“HEEEEERD IT!” she bellowed in midstride, and was across the yard in an eyeblink.

“WHAT TH–EEEEEEEEE!” Neo started Making That Sound again. He bolted for the plum tree, but Miss B cut him off.

I watched my new mini Aussie herd the Terminator death ninja squirrel across my hard, harrying and nipping, turning on a dime, anticipating, and generally treating him like a flock of sheep. Now, squirrels are generally very nimble little critters, and Neo doubly so. But Miss B had her nose down, and she cut him off every. Single. Time. Grass flew. Neo stopped making That Noise. I suppose he thought he was running for his life and needed the oxygen. Back and forth they went–Miss B got him turned around near the fence, he feinted, she took the bait, he reversed–but so did she, with sweet natural grace, nipping at his crooked tail for good measure.

I stood there, mouth ajar, tea pouring out of my dangling cup. It was actually the boiling-hot tea splashing through my pants that restored me to some kind of sanity. “B—-!” I used her full name and my You Are My Child voice. She skidded to a stop, head up, eying me.

Neo darted for the shelter of the plum tree. Miss B quivered with anticipation. “No,” I said, “let the fuzzy little bastard rest. You’ve had your fun.”

She chuffed and trotted back to me, head high, her hindquarters wriggling with delight. “I HERDED IT! IT WAS A QUICK LITTLE BASTARD TOO! DID YOU SEE ME HERD IT? IS THAT MY NEW JOB?”

“Just be careful,” I told her, snorting for breath through the laughter. “That’s no ordinary squirrel. Plus he’s probably going to bring backup.”

Blossom-laden branches shook violently. Squirrel!Neo was invisible, but I could certainly hear him. “WHAT THE…WHAT WAS THAT? WHAT IS THAT? THE MONKEY’S TALKING TO IT! THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE YARD! FIRE! FLOOD! ANARCHY! IT NEARLY GOT ME!”

That did me in. I leaned against the house and fair wheezed with laughter. My stomach hurt and I had to blow my nose by the time I was done. Miss B, of course, kept one eye on me and one eye on the plum tree, waiting for Round Two.

This is gonna be good.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 4th, 2011 09:29 am)

My morning started with a banana and a three-mile run at the low end of my pre-injury pace. This was made easier by the fact that I have finally kicked the flu’s ass and sent it howling. Which meant I could breathe, always a plus.

Then it was time to wash the dried blood out of my hair. Now, starting a Monday morning with dry claret spattering one is de rigeur for my characters, not so much for me (anymore), so this may require a little explanation.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

It’s Fish of April! Here’s the obligatory prank. There, now we’ve gotten that out of the way.

It’s a Friday and I’m flying low, so…under the cut, the long-awaited picture of Miss B, plus a squirreltastic treat. (ETA: Plus, the Evil League of Evil Writers totally made me cry this morning.)

Read the rest of this entry » )

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Things I’ve said to myself this morning:

“Self, going out into the freezing wind with wet hair was a Bad Idea.”

“The last two miles are easiest. Keep running. *wheeze*” (They’re not easiest, they’re just there and I might as well do them once I’ve done the other five.)

“Oh, look. Another broken tea mug.” (No, I did not break it because it sassed me. I just put it down wrong. And it fell, and I thought of catching it on my foot, but that sent it careening…oh, hell, you don’t want to know the rest.)

“I probably shouldn’t have told that kid to watch her tone, but dammit, she deserved it.” (The bus stop is sometimes a madhouse in the mornings.)

“OW! Well, now we know THAT hurts.” (Said a couple times, actually–a few shocks of static electricity since the wind’s up and it’s dry, a stubbed toe, a banged-up knee, and fingers pinched in a drawer.)

“Driving in downtown Portland on a Tuesday won’t be that bad, right?” (The store out in the burbs doesn’t have what I want. *girds loins* Nos morituri, and all that…)

“Self, you just had to pick the one historical period you don’t know enough about. Welcome to research hell.” (I seriously need to get my Victoriana on.)

“Why does Indian food make me smell like buttered toast the next day?” (WEIRD, right?)

“You know, if I wasn’t walking in the middle of the road, they probably wouldn’t have tried to run me over.” (…Yeah. I was thinking about gaslamps.)

“Eh, why not. It can’t hurt.” (Famous last words.)

“Don’t you look at me like that. I have the opposable thumbs!” (Okay, so this was said to a squirrel who gave me a filthy look as I surprised her in my front yard. What she was doing with that stick I have no idea. Anyway. Also said to squirrels this morning: “Goddamn peeping Toms!” Look, they were trying to peer into my window! I CANNOT MAKE THIS SH!T UP.)

“Five more minutes…” (When my alarm went off this morning. You all know how THAT goes.)

“You know today is going to be one of those days where it’s fun to be you but nobody else will get it, right?” (Staring in mirror as I put my Kuan Yin earrings on, to remind myself to be gentle.)


Have fun out there, dear Reader. And stay warm. The wind is cold, and it tends to drive people a little crazy–what, me? What are you talking about? I’m sane.

Well, reasonably sane. Maybe. I guess. For a certain value of “sane.”

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Being the final Chronicle of Squirrel!Terror

The second day of the Corn Pops war dawned just as rainy and cold as the first. I was up before dawn to hit the treadmill, and busy afterward, but I kept checking through my kitchen window. The main bulk of forces were still gathering, I guess, because all day long there was only one gull and one squirrel in the yard at any given time.

It wasn’t the same gull or the same squirrel all day. No, as soon as another gull drifted down and landed, the one on guard would take off. Nobody touched the Fruit of Crunchy Discord, which was still scattered glaring-yellow right where I usually dump some torn-up bread for the birds. The feathers had mostly blown away, but the seagull, erm, dooky was still spattered from hell to breakfast all over.

I was beginning to regret buying the goddamn Pops in the first place.

Anyway, the squirrel changing-of-the-guard was a little more complex. It involved a semi-chase and a lot of angry chittering. The exchanges went a little something like this:







The three bluejays observed a scrupulous distance from the Pops. They contented themselves with the birdfeeder, and Romeo!Jay seemed nervous. He kept glancing at whatever seagull was on guard, and would hop a little closer to Juliet. Mercutio!Jay, of course, kept up a running commentary. “WHAT THE HELL? YESTERDAY THEY WERE FIGHTING OVER IT, NOW THEY’RE JUST LOOKING AT IT. STUPID RODENTS AND RODENT-BIRDS. WE SHOULD GO GET SOME OF THOSE YELLOW THINGS. THEN AGAIN, IF SEAGULLS WILL EAT THEM–HEY JULIE, LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO! LOOK AT THIS!”

You get the idea.

Late in the afternoon, the crows showed up. They evinced no interest in the Pops, they just settled in the plum tree and the pines (the same ones that featured in the Battle of the Pine Boughs) and set up a racket. Finally, the largest, Bartholomew!Crow, coasted in. He hopped around the yard and eyed everything, from the Pops to the gull on duty–a dirty gray bird with a mean glint in his eye–and the squirrel on guard, who hunched nervously near the plum tree and tried to look everywhere at once. He shook his head, cawed a few times, and the crows lifted off.

I was beginning to get a bad feeling over this, but the gull left at sundown.

The next day, I hit the treadmill before dawn again. I got the kids off to school and came home in the rain. I was halfway home from the bus stop when the crows started setting up a racket. “HEY! HEY LADY! YOU’RE MISSING THE FIGHT!”

I ran for home, tripped through the front door, almost fell into the coatrack, got the door closed and locked, and hurried for the window.

The crows weren’t wrong. It was 0815 hours, and the gulls had attacked in force. There was screeching, there was flapping, there were feathers flying. Oddly, none of the gulls were going after the Pops. They just ringed them, the Fruit of Crunchy Discord glowing a little as the sun broke briefly through crowds, and started pecking to determine who was going to get first crack. I stared, wondering if something else would happen–and wondering if I could go and get another cup of coffee to sip while I waited.

I should have grabbed a camera. The third and final battle of the Corn Pops War had begun.

0820 hours: Squirrel counterattack, supported by pinecone artillery from the pines to the north. The Forces of Gull, slightly nonplussed, moved back. They took wing, but thankfully did not crap all over the yard. The Corn Pops just sat there.

0900 hours: Uneasy calm. No sign of gulls or squirrels. Bluejays retreated to western pussywillow tree.

0945 hours: Squirrels moved out in force from southern hedge and western plum tree. The half-dozen from Day One of the War returned, battle-scarred veterans, supported by artillery and reinforcements–two or three younger squirrels. Wiser than the Forces of Gull, the young ones descended on the Fruit of Crunchy Discord and began stuffing their faces and hauling it off. They were running it toward the juniper hedge, and Observer had mad thoughts of trying to explain to the neighbors why there were Corn Pops in their yard. Observer decided discretion was the better part of valor, and fetched the Sekrit Weapon. (See following transmissions.)

1013: Forces of Gull counterattacked, scattering the Young Squirrel Logistical Brigade. All hell broke loose. Artillery everywhere. Feathers flying. Bluejays entranced. Mercutio!Jay hopping up and down on pussywillow branches: “OMIGOD! OMIGOD! DO YOU SEE THAT? HIT HIM AGAIN–OH CRAP, THAT’S GONNA LEAVE A MARK! PECK AT HIM, YOU BASTARD, YOU’VE GOT A BEAK, USE IT–JESUS CHRIST, THEY DO KNOW KUNG FU! ARE YOU SEEING THIS SHIT? WHERE’S THE MONKEY?! THE MONKEY SHOULD SEE THIS!”

1100: Observer had to leave for climbing. Forces of Gull driven off at great cost; Squirrel Brigade tending to wounded and working frantically to reload ammunition and get the logistical pipeline up again.

1313: Observer returned through heavy rain. Battlefield drenched, soggy feathers and No-Longer-Crunchy Discord scattered instead of in a rough pile. No sign of Forces of Gull. One weary squirrel propped against plum tree, crooked tail drooping, black eyes scanning.

1330: All quiet. Furious rain. Crooked-tail squirrel still watching. Crows in northern pines rustling and watching. Observer took a break for snack and to move Sekrit Weapon to (inside) northern sunroom door. Civilian chickadees and blackbirds at feeder, nervous but hungry.

1400: Rain tapering off. Battlefield soaked.

1408: Observer pauses while loading dishwasher. Eerie silence.

1411: Observer yells “HOLY CRAP!” Forces of Gull attack in overwhelming force. Battlefield full of feathers, Forces of Gull making ungodly racket. Bluejays in western pussywillow, struck silent (for once) by ferocity of attack. No sign of crooked-tail squirrel on watch.

1413: The 101st Fighting Squirrel Legion (Neo’s Fist) attacks with all available reinforcements. Pinecone artillery firing over open sights. Shouts, screams, chittering. The Champion of Gull crouches over biggest pile of No-Longer-Crunchy Discord, uttering high-pitched squeals.

1414: Challenge is answered by crooked-tail squirrel (codename: NEO), who lets out THAT SOUND and hurls himself into battle.

1414-1418: Crooked-tail squirrel proves he does, indeed, know kung fu. Champion of Gull faintly discomfited. Flying roundhouse kicks. Amazing leaps and bounds. THAT SOUND still being made.

1418-1421: Champion of Gull pulls out his own kung fu. Feathers explode. Champion of Gull seems to have forgotten he is flight-capable. 101st and Forces of Gull both draw back, as their champions are dueling. Observer grabs Sekrit Weapon and heads for (outer) sunroom door. OBSERVER’S NOTE: You see, I’d made up my mind whose side I was on. The squirrels were the underdogs, dammit. And the gulls had crapped all over my yard.

1421: Observer reaches sunroom door. Rain begins again, though there is a break in clouds and sunshine. Crooked-Tail Squirrel Champion (codename: NEO) receives peck to head that leaves him stunned. Observer yells “OH HELL NO” and tears open sunroom door.

1422: Sunshine continues over soaked battlefield. Female jay (codename: JULIET) appears, diving toward Champion of Gull. Squirrel Champion (NEO) lying on Corn Pops, stunned. Observer using language not fit to be repeated. (“THAT’S MY GODDAMN SQUIRREL! YOU MOTHERF!CKING SEAGULL, YOU ARE GODDAMN F!CKINGWELL GOING DOWN!”

1423: Champion of Gull takes wing briefly, engages JULIET. JULIET is flung back. Silent male bluejay (codename: ROMEO) lets out massive scream. Forces of Gull move in for kill.

1424: Loudmouth male bluejay (codename: MERCUTIO) yells: “JESUS CHRIST ROMEO BUDDY WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? ATTACK! ATTACK!” Jay ROMEO engages Champion of Gull. Feathers fly.

1424: Help unlooked-for arrives. Crow reinforcements (codename: BARTHOLOMEW and his entire Legion Corvidae) descend upon Forces of Gull. JULIET stunned, flutters to her feet. ROMEO kicking living shit out of Champion of Gull. Fire! Flood! DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER! ANARCHY!

And that, dear friends, is how I ended up outside, brandishing a golf club and screaming imprecations, while Romeo!Jay beat the everliving hell out of that big fat white gull. Bartholomew and his Legion made short work of the rest of the Forces of Gull, and the 101st (Neo’s Fist) went to town with the artillery. The Forces of Gull decided they’d had enough and lifted off, dumping another load of lightening-for-takeoff, and once again, miraculously, I was not spattered with gull poop.

I believe I have used up a lifetime’s supply of luck in that regard.

Anyway, in less time than it takes to write it, the Legion had chased the Forces of Gull away. Neo sat up, shaking his little head, and glared around him. The Champion of Gull was last seen winging furiously away over the apartment complex, screaming in terror. Romeo!Jay returned and coasted down to land near Juliet, who had made it to an azalea near the fence. He pecked at her once or twice, reassuring himself she was all right, and they spent a few minutes in a low-toned conversation that needs no translation. (Juliet: “Why did you do that?” Romeo: “You mean you don’t know? I…” Juliet: “Shut up and kiss me.”)

Neo hunkered over the Corn Pops, his eyes gleaming madly. My yard looked like a war zone.

Mercutio!Jay hopped up to the scattered Pops, sunlight gilding every feather as rain kissed my arms and hair. “JESUS, MAN, YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW WHEN TO QUIT, DO YOU.” He bobbed his head. “I CAN TOTES RESPECT THAT. SO WHAT ARE THESE THINGS, ANYWAY?”

Neo, his sides heaving, managed a shrug. “DUNNO,” he chittered. “THEY TASTE ALL RIGHT, BUT THEY GIVE ME THE RUNS.”

I lowered the golf club. Looked back over my shoulder. A rainbow had appeared, arching in the sky as the clouds covered the sun again and the rain intensified. My spectacles were spotted with drops and my feet were suddenly cold.

I realized, once more, that I’d charged shoeless into the fray. My heart was pounding. Romeo and Juliet took off and settled in the plum tree; as soon as Romeo landed he scooted as close to Julie as he could, and started smoothing her feathers with his beak.

I took a step backward.

Mercutio and Neo both looked at me sideways. Mercutio bobbed his head, grabbed a Corn Pop, and swallowed it. “THESE THINGS ARE NASTY,” he commented. “HEY, MONKEY, WHERE’S THE BREAD? YOU USUALLY HAVE BREAD OUT. I COULD USE A SNACK AFTER ALL THAT.”

Neo stared for a few moments. Then, deliberately, I swear to you, he nodded. He chittered a little. My squirreltongue could use some work, but I think here’s what he said:


I retreated in a hurry. Closed the sunroom door, changed my socks, cleaned my spectacles off. At 2:40 (that’s 1440 hours, if you’re wondering) I made myself a cup of tea and looked out the window.

The crows were back, pecking at the Pops. The Squirrel Logistical Brigade was out in full force too, stuffing themselves and carrying Pops off toward the hedge. Their supervisor, a crooked-tailed champion, oversaw this, stopping every once in a while to pick at the Pops himself. Mercutio!Jay hopped among them, loudly complaining that the monkey hadn’t brought out the bread.

And so, lo, peace is restored to the Kingdom of Backyard. For the forces of Bluejay and Squirrel hath reached a tenuous agreement, and the Peacekeeping Forces of Bartholomew Corvidae hath turned the tide of battle. Derring-do hath been accomplished, fair maiden hath been rescued and won, mighty feats of arms hath been performed, and love and brotherhood reign supreme. For Interspecies Harmony hath yea verily been restored, and the annals of Squirrel!Terror now reacheth their end.

Unless, of course, some damn thing else happens…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Gather close, my children, and let me tell you the tale of the three-day Battle of the Corn Pops, wherein Squirrel!Neo the mighty met his match, a bluejay found romance, and the hordes of Gull were beaten back! Yes, it was a terrible fight that raged from dawn to dusk, and dawn to dusk, and dawn to dusk again, while the mighty-thewed combatants struggled no less with their own exhaustion than with each other.

It all started with a Little Prince and a Fair Princess, and a box of Corn Pops.

I usually buy one box of “fun” cereal and one box of “healthy” cereal. They can eat as much as they want of the fun cereal, but once it’s gone the healthy cereal has to be eaten before I’ll buy another box of sugar-drenched marketing. I am Best Mum Ever while the fun cereal abounds, but not so much when they have to eat Cheerios or MiniWheats or something. Most of the time I let them come to the store with me and pick the fun cereal. But sometimes I am thrown back on my own resources to find a box of something that fits their exacting standards.

A while ago, I chose Corn Pops. But apparently the Pops were not fun enough. I had a bowl, and they didn’t set me on fire. I figured that was because I’m not ten anymore. But the kids evinced no interest in the pure sugar, which is unheard-of. After asking them three or four times if they were ever going to eat the damn Pops, I got the bright idea of dumping them in the backyard where I usually scatter bread for the birds. (Yes, I armed myself with the Sandal of DOOM before doing so. No, nothing worth mentioning happened.)

For two days the Pops sat outside, and I was beginning to think eating a bowl of them had been a bad idea. It’s like cockroaches and Twinkies–if the roaches won’t even eat that (admittedly very tasty) plastic spongecake, no way on earth I’m gonna. Little did I know that it wasn’t the Pops, per se, that made everything so quiet.

It was the gathering of forces, the logistics of warfare, that provided the false lull.

I was washing dishes when I saw the first wave. Four squirrels appeared, converging on the Pops. They started stuffing themselves as fast as they possibly could, and I actually felt good about that. You know how I feel about feeding squirrels, but I was just so glad someone would eat the damn things and I wouldn’t have to rake up a soggy mess.

But then.

I was actually rinsing my frying pan when the seagulls appeared.

They descended, birds of white death. Seriously. Have you ever looked at a seagull compared to a squirrel, even a big fat crooked-tail ninja Terminator squirrel? I mean, I don’t know about where you live, gentle Reader, but here we have garbage dumps, the river, and some seriously hulking seagulls. And they are nasty. They’re the kind of birds who will knock you down to steal your French fries. (Long story, another day.) They’re not as vicious as swans or as smart as geese, but their roaming-in-flocks thing added to their sheer weight means that the four squirrels on the ground were, to put it kindly, obliterated.

The squirrels fled, chittering. Neo was not among them, yet. They scampered away. One tiny gray fluffball did his best to stand his ground, but the seagulls just laughed and pecked at him, flapping their wings until they’d herded him to the juniper hedge.

I am not ashamed to admit I laughed. Loudly, up to my elbows in soapy water. I was not too happy about a sudden influx of gulls–they’re all right, I have a soft spot in my heart for omnivorous trash animals, you should see my dating history, but they’re messy. I stood there laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

Until, that is, the squirrels massed for counterattack.

“AT ‘EM, BOYS! SHOW ‘EM YOUR KUNG FU! YAH!” Squirrel!Neo led the charge, crooked tail held proudly, swearing like a drill sergeant. I would add “guns blazing” here, except he had no guns. He had only his Matrix training to protect him. It was a glorious charge, him and about five of his fuzzy little brethren. Yes, there were half a dozen squirrels in my yard, and they charged like the Light Brigade. Into the valley of seagull death rode the, um, six or so.

Alas, their heroism came to naught. Or to put it more succinctly, Neo got spanked.

I saw one fat white gull laughing as he flapped, harrying poor doomed Squirrel!Neo, the One of Rodentia, toward the plum tree. The squirrels would regroup and attack, and the gulls would fence up each time, pecking and flapping, dwarfing their rodent opponents. Juliet!Jay showed up halfway through, and sat on the fence watching with much interest. Mercutio and Romeo, however, stayed in the pussywillow tree, and I’m sure Mercutio!Jay was commenting, though I could barely hear him over the ruckus.


I think I saw Romeo’s beak move, too. “DUDE,” he remarked, “YOU ARE NOT MAKING THIS ANY EASIER.”

Mercutio kept laughing. Juliet was completely silent, transfixed.

Now, my fear of Squirrel!Neo is a healthy fear. I have a great respect for what that little bastard’s capable of. But this was…well…

It was unfair.

I have this thing for the underdog. Mess with me, fine. I’m a big girl, I can handle it. But pick on someone half your size around me? No way, no day. A sizable proportion of the trouble I’ve ever gotten into has been me on my Rocinante, in my busted-ass tin armor, taking on a giant for the sake of the Little Guy. Besides, I felt kind of guilty. I had, after all, scattered the Fruit of Crunchy Discord in my own backyard. And the gallantry of the squirrels was kind of…moving.


I dropped the plate I was rinsing. I didn’t stop to pick up the Sandal of DOOM. No, instead I grabbed one of the Little Prince’s foam-wrapped baseball bats. That kid will not have a Louisville Slugger as long as we live anywhere there’s glass to be broken, because if he has a ball a window will sooner or later get the full impact. (THIS is why I only buy wiffle balls.) It’s not even his fault, really–I’ve seen balls curve to hit the house when he kicks them. They have it in for him.

Anyway. So I was out the back door, howling like a banshee, waving my bright purple marshal’s baton. I was not, at this point, screaming obscenities. Instead, I yelled, “HANG ON, NEO! THE CAVALRY’S COMING! IT’S MY FAULT! JUST HOLD ON!”

I realized I hadn’t even put shoes on as soon as I slipped in the wet grass, my socks immediately soaked. I saved myself with an amazing sideways lunge, and I almost punted a seagull. (He was probably one of the rear echelon troops, or a quartermaster. Maybe a cook.) For the record, this was the point where I started screaming obscenities. Something like, “OH FOR F!CK’S SAKE, YOU BASTARDS, I’M NOT EVEN WEARING SHOES, IMMA GONNA KILL YOU ALL!”

By now, the desired effect was achieved. The seagulls, while they had no trouble dealing with Neo and his plucky bunch of outcasts, did not know what to make of a crazy shoeless woman, spattering dish soap and suds everywhere, waving a kid’s baseball bat. They shrieked. Total confusion reigned. The chain of command broke down. The plump white attackers scattered, and they did what every seagull does when frightened: they lightened for takeoff.

Fortunately, I was out of the blast zone. But their parting artillery shots got most of the squirrels and a liberal portion of my yard. The gulls fled, and I stood there, my sides heaving, still waving the bat. The squirrels were all frozen. A fine misty rain drifted over the battlefield.

Mercutio!Jay hopped up and down on his branch. “JESUS CHRIST, LADY! YOU SCARED ME! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? THOSE SQUIRRELS TRIED TO KILL YOU! ARE YOU INSANE?” Juliet bobbed along the fence, free of her stasis. Romeo looked ever-so-faintly disgruntled.

But Squirrel!Neo, showered in seagull poo, looked wearily sidelong at me. I could swear I saw a gleam of defiant respect in his beady little black eyes. The squirrels limped away, probably to hit the showers, and the jays came gliding down to pick over the battlefield and sample the crunchy discord. Feathers and seagull droppings were everywhere. It looked a scene of unspeakable carnage–but at least none of the Flying Brigade had pooped on the Corn Pops.

Or on me.

I beat a hasty retreat inside, changed my socks, and checked the back window frequently. The Corn Pops sat, soaking in the rain. The feathers blew around. The battlefield was empty all through the night.

The next day, the battle took a turn for the bizarre.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I felt okay until about noon yesterday, when WHOMP! This damn virus descended on me. I’m producing all sorts of phlegm in varied rainbow colors. I’m sure I’m spreading the contagion over everything in my vicinity. I was tired and waspish yesterday, as my writing partner found out. (Sorry about that, kiddo.)

Anyway, there’s very little to report. I sent off a short story and am editing Something Sekrit. I do have Very Good News, but I can’t announce it until everything’s all wrapped. Plus, I still have to write about the squirrels, the gulls, and the CornPops war. I have to wait until I can breathe, because just thinking about it makes me laugh.

I did manage to get out and purchase a “squirrel-proof” birdfeeder. It has a sort of wire cage around the tube holding the seed, and when a squirrel gets on it the cage slides down, barring it from getting any noms. (Almost like this guy, but more decorative.) We’ll see how this works out. If all else fails, it should at least be hysterically funny. I kind of dread one of the little rodents getting a paw caught in it or something, though. Because let’s face it, these squirrels would be the ones to do so. Especially Neo. He’s having some bad luck lately.

ANYWAY, while I was purchasing this wondrous object, I also picked up twenty pounds of birdseed. (What? I like to be prepared. It was on SALE.) Then I turned around…and saw it.


Can you believe that? I’ll say it again.


People pay money for this.

I stood there in the Fred Meyer aisle for at least twenty long-ticking seconds, dumbstruck and staring. Three shelves of squirrel food. I cannot believe people feed these fuzzy little cat-kicking ninjas. There was a wide array, from corncobs to corncob-shaped hanging loaves of seeds and nuts, to sawdust-looking cornmeal things that are probably the Metamucil of the squirrel world. There was tons of it.

“No way,” I finally breathed.

At this point, I have to admit, I did think about buying some of the pressed seed loaves and hanging them up in the plum tree. Why? Aw, just for the lulz, maybe.

No, not for giggles. I’ll be honest. Jesus, don’t look at me like that.

AS A BRIBE, OKAY? As a kickback to the little fuzzy commandos so they won’t break my windows with peanuts or anything. But then I thought, you know, you start paying the squirrel mafia off and sooner or later they’ll start squeezing you for more.

“Oh hell no,” I muttered. Well, maybe not muttered. Maybe sort of said out loud. “No way. I’m not being held hostage by a bunch of rodents.”

I should mention that there was a lady in a red jacket at the other end of the aisle, looking at hummingbird feeders. She gave me a startled look and trundled her cart away maybe a little more quickly than was necessary.

I left the squirrel food where it was, shaking my head. All the way through the store I kept having one recurring vision–of nattily-dressed squirrel mobsters doing James Cagney sneers. “Eh, here, you see. We don’t like dat boid feedah. We like the ones that are real easy-like. But if ya wanna keep that one, sport, all you gotta do is hang up some Metamucil. We likes it, see?”

…yeah, I amuse myself all the time like this. It’s what makes me unfit for a great deal of normal life, I guess.

So. The new feeder is hanging up. The cats are agog, especially sweet dumb Tuxedo!Kitty, who crouches inside on the windowsill and keeps warbling his throaty little “ohpleaseohplease” song as the birds discover new munchables. No squirrel has attempted it yet. But I’m waiting. And as I sit here, looking out my window onto my front yard, I can see a couple bushy-tailed ninjas frolicking. They stop jumping around every once in a while to shoot me filthy looks through the window.

I have the sandal of DOOM right next to me. Let the games begin.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.



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