Monday, January 23, 2023

Long *month*.

I have had something going on every week, so far this month.  Kids started back to school (and the school didn't put their schedules up until the day before...), then imp had a three-month followup for his focus pills (had grown an inch and a half since the previous one), and I had a dentist's appointment for a deep cleaning the same week (hygienist did half the job, and it took almost two hours).  Last week, I had a visit with my endocrinologist.  This week, I'll have the rest of the dental cleaning done.  

I also got Having a Pint put up for publication at the beginning of the month...first book out in almost three years.  I gotta do better than that, seriously.  I'm working on it, I promise. 

Honestly, I've finally been gaining some traction on the writing--I've got The Schrodinger Paradox almost finished (and the first two parts have been looked at by a couple of beta readers).  And Certified Public Assassin is about half done, I think.  

Right now, February looks a little lighter, but only on the outside-the-house commitments.  I have a lot of writing to do.  

And a lot of small projects on the house.  

In the meantime...have some entertainment: the first chapter of Having a Pint.  Remember, this is the second book in The Liquid Diet Chronicles.  It should make sense, even if you haven't read Bite Sized

What Gets Guido Out of Carpet?

I’d tried setting my alarm, on a whim, a bit before sunset.  I woke to music. 

At sunset. 

My alarm had been going off for half an hour, and it hadn’t worked to wake me up.  I sighed, sitting up in my bed—my actual, real bed, in my actual, real apartment built into the basement, rather than a mattress on a dresser in a closet—and scrubbed both hands over my face, then let them fall into my lap.  I guessed I’d just have to keep...aging...if I wanted to wake early.

My name is Meg.  I’ve been a vampire for a bit more than twenty years.    

My stomach gurgled, and I sighed.  Clearly, I’d be going hunting tonight, despite the sheer amount of work I had to do. 

My client list had...expanded.  And most of the new clients I had were paying me a lot, even by the small percentages I charged.  I’d already recouped the cost of remodeling the basement to create the apartment, the new storm shelter buried in the ground just steps from the back door, and part of the cost of repairs to the rest of the house.  So, yeah—I had a lot to do, and I was going to have to put it off to go hunt. 

I was just getting out of the shower when I was startled by a crash.  Sounded like somebody kicked the front door in.  Pounding steps running down the hall—those didn’t sound like Andi—a scream in the kitchen, and a gunshot (which came through the ceiling in my bedroom and killed my clock-radio).  Loud, angry, male voice cursing in a foreign language.  Sounded like Spanish, at first, but wasn’t. 

Two sets of footsteps, one heavy, the other lighter and stumbling, went from the kitchen to my office/library. 

I sighed, annoyed, then deliberately quit breathing.  I moved quickly and quietly up my steps and through my door, closing it behind me without a sound. 

That front door had a really cold breath, and the water on my bare skin damn near flash-froze.  Northern Kansas was really not the place to have the winter wind hitting your wet skin.  I kept moving, darting into my office to get out of the draft. 

There was a guy in a rumpled, cheap, brown suit rifling through my filing cabinet with one hand while pointing a small pistol in Andi’s general direction with the other.  Not a small gun, after all, I realized as I examined the situation—it was a full-sized double-stack something—his hands were just massive.  Wide.  He wasn’t a small man, I realized as I snuck up on him.  I wouldn’t be able to reach both his hand with the gun and the back of his head, I realized—I’d have to grab just above his elbow and just shove his arm up until I could get control of the rest of him.

His back was to me, so I took a quick breath and winked at Andi.  Her eyes widened as I vanished again, and she relaxed. 

“Where’s the money, you stupid bitch?” he snarled.  “I want the money.” 

What money?” she said, exasperated. 

“This is the money-laundering place my ex-boss used—I want the money,” he snarled. 

This.  This is what I got for not being picky about my clients. 

Italian food delivered on a busy night. 

I stepped up, grabbed his gun arm and wrenched it up toward the ceiling as he fired.  I took a breath and grabbed the short little ponytail at the back of his head, and jumped, swarming up his back like a monkey until I could reach his neck.  And higher on his gun arm, but not his hand, yet—guy had gorilla arms, not just the shoulders.  Andi fled the room.

His suit was polyester.  His shirt was rough cotton.  He wasn’t wearing a tie.  Colors popped richer as I fed.  I let go of his back with my legs as he sagged to his knees, then carefully took him the rest of the way down to the floor.  I let his arm slide through my hand until I could crush his hand around the gun.  The bones popping as they broke were loud in my ears.  He was so warm.  And I was warming quickly, despite the cold air from outside rushing in through my broken front door.

Andi rushed back in with a robe.  “Don’t kill him,” she said quickly. 

I got the gun out of his mangled hand, and tossed it aside.  I disengaged from feeding, slapping my now-free hand over the bite over his carotid artery, pinching the holes shut, careful to keep him from bleeding out before I wanted him to.  I wasn’t quick enough, and it sprayed everywhere.  And left a puddle—a growing one, since it was still leaking—under his neck.  I rolled my eyes and sighed, licking the wound mostly closed until I could get back to him.

I really should have expected her to come back.  I mean, she came back when I rescued her from a would-be rapist in a dark alley, despite her inability to deal with violence.  It was one of the main reasons I’d invited her to be my housemate in the first place.  Why wouldn’t she come back in, in a place where she felt safe?  

I groaned and let her help me into the robe, one arm at a time. Even holding him down with only one arm and focusing on letting Andi help me into a robe, I didn’t have any trouble holding the guy still without any effort, despite his feeble attempts to get me off of his back.  Shock and terror did wonderful things to my food—made it harder for food to fight back, that’s for sure.  I sighed again and sealed the wound the rest of the way for as long as the conversation took.  And groaned in exasperation as he squirmed, smearing the mess on my rug.  “Why?”

“We can call the police,” she said.  “Get him hauled off to jail.”

I whined a bit, leaning my forehead against the back of his shoulders.  If I ate the guy, I wouldn’t have to stop working to eat for potentially the rest of the week.  He also wouldn’t be doing this again.  Ever.  But I needed a better reason than that for Andi.  “And then what?” I asked.  “Who’s your boss?” I asked the guy I’d been eating. 

“I ain’t telling you shit, you unnatural bitch,” he gasped weakly. 

“Yes, you will,” I said, exerting myself a little to overcome whatever willpower he might have.  It was easy.  He didn’t have much of a mind to overcome.

“Rizzoli,” he mumbled.  “Leo Rizzoli.”

“One of my first investments clients,” I said, looking back up at Andi for a moment.  “You know.  One of the ones that I was pretty sure was mafia when I accepted his business, because I didn’t have a choice.  After I was attacked and turned.”

“Oh,” she said weakly.  “One of those.”

I leaned in to whisper to my breakfast, “That money you were looking for?  Wasn’t ever here.  It’s all tied up in investments.  Electrons.  Ones and zeros.” 

I gave him a couple of seconds to absorb that information, then conked his head on the floor, knocking him out.  Then I looked up at Andi.  “I can’t call the cops on him for breaking and entering,” I said.  “I’d be arrested right along with his boss.” 

Andi huffed.  “Fine.  Go ahead and eat him, then.  What are we going to do with the body?  And the gun?  And the blood in the carpet?  And how are we going to explain the repairs?”

“Now, see, the blood in the rug is the only part I’m really mad about,” I said, looking down.  “I love this rug.  And it might be ruined.  The rest is easily handled.”

Andi huffed, throwing her hands in the air.  “I’m going back to my supper, then.  Call me if you need help moving the body.”

I snorted, hauling Guido to his feet and hefting him over my shoulders.  It wasn’t hard—he was more awkward than heavy, for me—and over-the-shoulder was easier than other ways to carry something like him.  I did end up with my robe twisted a bit.  “I’m going back to my breakfast, then,” I snarked in return.  I followed her out into the hall, intending to go out to the utility room and its cement floor.  The cold made me gasp, and got her attention.

She glared at me from the kitchen door.  “You are not eating him in the kitchen,” she said flatly.  “That’s nasty.  I don’t want to be cleaning up excrement from the floor.”

“No, I’m hauling my meal out on the back porch before I eat.  Then, I’ll set the leftovers out on the steps to freeze for easier transport,” I said.  “The reason I didn’t drag him out there in the first place was because I didn’t want holes in the ceiling the whole way there.”

She blinked.  “Okay.  Sensible.  Too bad you couldn’t have drug him off your rug first.”

I rolled my eyes.  “One, he’d have shot you if I’d tried.  Two, he did manage to shoot the ceiling, so he was prepared to shoot you.  Three, there wouldn’t be any blood on the rug if you hadn’t interrupted me, since you didn’t have a really good reason.”

The mook over my shoulder twitched and moaned, clapping his hand over where I’d bitten him.  He snapped awake, and struggled a little.   “Cut that out,” I said irritably.  “I only sealed your neck up a little.  If I drop you, it’ll come back open, you’ll bleed out in the hall, I’ll have a bigger mess to clean up in more places, and I won’t get to finish my breakfast.”

“Please, lady,” he whined as he made the connection, “I ain’t done nothing to hurt you—don’t...”

I snorted as I moved down the hall, into the utility room.  I’d move the rest of the way out onto the roofed-over but not walled-in part of the porch, but cold pulls blood toward the body’s core, and makes it harder for me to get all of it.  Besides, out on the porch, there were snow drifts nearly up to my hips, and I was still only in a robe.  “You kicked in my front door,” I said.  “You shot my clock in the basement, in the course of threatening my housemate, threatened my housemate, then shot my ceiling when I put a stop to it.”

“It wasn’t personal, I swear,” he wailed. 

I sighed, dumping him into the snow.  “Yes, it was,” I said, manhandling him around until I could resume my breakfast.  “If I hadn’t been dealing with your boss, you wouldn’t be here.  That means it was personal.  Just not against me.  And I’m going to bill your former boss for it, and make him come pick up your corpse.”


I did not feel like dressing up to work, tonight.  Not after the way my evening started.  Yeah, I was no longer hungry, but I did not like being attacked.  And this was the first time I’d actually been shot at. 

Well, shot towards, anyway.  He hadn’t been shooting at me.  Nor at Andi, if my guess was correct—the shot in the hall that took out my alarm clock in the basement was a threat, not a serious attempt.

I dug out a pair of flannel lined jeans, big, fluffy slipper socks, a cami-top and a very soft and thick flannel shirt and dressed quickly.  Guido was freezing into an easy-to-transport fetal wad; I was just freezing. 

I went back upstairs after getting dressed to find the front door propped shut.  I squatted down to look at the damage, and sighed.  The door was cracked, the door plate ripped out of the facing, and kicked to the side where nobody would step on it.  The door and door facing weren’t repairable.  Everything would have to be replaced altogether.

Andi called, “I’ll be calling the guy that did the work downstairs tomorrow; what do you want me to tell him?”

That...was a good question.  I sighed, rubbing both temples with my index and middle fingers, and padded into my office.  Andi was on her hands and knees around the blood-spot, dabbing at it with paper towels.  She had my lined office trash can right next to her, already full of bloody paper where she’d gotten the worst of the blood soaked up, and she had a spray bottle full of something clear next to her knees.  “Um...what?” I asked stupidly. 

“I wasn’t thinking when I told you to not kill him,” she said, glancing up at me.  “Kinda shook, ya know?  I really hate hurting people.  Even when they’re trying to hurt me.  It’s why I’m not a cop.  Anyway.  So, if I made you make the mess, it’s my mess, and I’ll clean it up.”

“Okay, tell me what you’re doing,” I said. 

“I looked up getting blood out of a wool rug online while I finished my supper,” she said, “and it looks pretty easy—spray water, and dab it up.  Well, it’s easier before it dries, at least,” she said, eyeing the rug dubiously.  “I think I’ll be able to get most of it like this.  There wasn’t a whole lot soaked in, there—it was still sort of sitting on top of the fibers.  You will probably need new curtains, though,” she pointed out, jerking her chin.

I turned.  And groaned. 

Yes, I would be needing new curtains.  The heavy drapes didn’t show it as bad, but they would after the blood dried brown and stained the burgundy.  Damn it, I’d liked those curtains.  They’d coordinated with the burgundy in the rug.  The translucent netting curtains...the spray had run.  They looked worse than the heavy burgundy drapes.  And they hadn’t stopped the spray from hitting the glass.

“Don’t worry—I’ll clean the windows tomorrow.  I’ve got the day scheduled off.”  Andi sprayed the rug, and blotted the spot.  It came up pinkish, rather than the arterial spray red that decorated the paper towels in the trash and the curtains. 

“Burn the paper towels and those curtains for me, please,” I said mildly.  “I’ve got a trash burn barrel outside.  It’s pretty obvious.”

“I’ve got some old records that are scanned into my system and need to be shredded or burned,” Andi said.  “Mind if I do those, too?”

“It’d be helpful,” I admitted. 

The night was just started, and I was already emotionally exhausted.  This.  This is why I don’t eat where I live.  Why I hunt elsewhere. 

Cleanup, when it’s necessary, is a nightmare. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Freakin' lovely

 So.  I've had some issues, recently.  Tylenol's been making me kind of queasy (and since it causes liver damage in too much quantity/too long of a time taking it, and liver damage's first sign is queasy...) so I quit taking it.  I've been having some issues with heartburn, too.  So I also quit taking Aleve.  

Joint pain levels...increased a little.  Not much.  Maybe half a step.  It is, in short, nowhere near as bad as I was thinking it would be.

In other words, neither Tylenol, nor Aleve were helping much to begin with.  

So I went looking for why.  

I found out.  

For people who have Fibromyalgia or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the pain involved is not responsive to either straight analgesics or to NSAIDs.  It's not quite nerve pain, but not quite not, either.  

I guess I'll just save the Aleve for when I stand up, something goes snap somewhere, and a joint swells up like an angry toad.  

And use compression gloves for the joint pain in my knuckles.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Prior planning and priorities...

Went up to visit my mom with one kid yesterday.  Just the pixie--the imp had a lego club meeting thing in the city library.  

They've squeezed six cats and two humans into a 400 sq ft space that's been expanded by flooring and sheet-rocking half of the attic.  That is, by the way, the only way it can be defined as a two bedroom space, as well.  Even if there's not really a safe exit from that attic bedroom, in case of fire. 

I love my family very much, but I can't think about their situation very often.  I'd offered to help them get out of that place in the past--or even just my sister--and have been turned down.  "We're waiting on God's time."  Or "God will tell us when it's time to move."  

Okay.  Fine.  Never mind that you're sitting on the roof peak, the water's at your waist, and you just waved off the helicopter.  That's their choices, and I don't get a vote. Never mind that I think He has been telling them to move for almost a decade and a half, now.  Ever since Grandma passed. 

I love my family.  I do.  But they're also a spectacular example to my children of "this is how you fuck your own life up."  I spend a lot of time explaining to the kids exactly what choices Granny made to land her (and my sister) where they are, and what choices they'd need to make to get out.  And I lead them through why we, Odysseus and I, make the choices we do, even when another choice would be more fun.  

It's a difference of looking at short-term vs. long-term.  

It's also a difference of priorities.  

Mom was talking about needing this, that, or the other for the house--furniture, or small appliances.  I wasn't paying attention.  She doesn't need what she thinks she does, she only wants it.  What she needs, if she's going to stay there where she is, is a new air conditioner.  She doesn't think her old one will make it through another year (even though it seemed to be cooling and dehumidifying things just fine last summer).  

I have things I would like, too, but it's all going to have to wait.  I would like a recliner that isn't electric, isn't half-worn-out, isn't too big for my frame, and coordinates with my living room.  I'd like a bread machine capable of doing gluten free bread (my old one I let go didn't).  

I'm not doing any of that because first priority is get our savings back up.  We've got insurance coming up in April, and tuition toward the end of July.  

And since I am not my mother, I'm not going to buy the things I want to, then wonder why I don't have enough and panic when the bills come due. 

I'm working on teaching the kids to do likewise. Because I don't want them fucking their lives up like my family's elder generation did.  If they fuck their lives up, I want them to do it in a way weird enough I had no clue it was possible to do it that way. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 taking a *break.*

So.  Last weekend, I took a deep breath and figured out exactly what I needed to do to get the finished book up.  And then I did it.  It wasn't exactly intuitive, but it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  

It's done, now, and that's a load off.  And yes, it's moving.  Thanks to an absolutely awesome lady. Sarah Hoyt.  Go read her stuff, if you haven't yet.  

So, yesterday, I did get some revising done.  Not a huge amount, since I was working on that and a whole lot of other stuff, but I managed.  I got a few chapters revised in my science fiction project*--like half of the first part.  I got more done today, but ran up against some mathing that needs to be done before I can continue.  

Can I just mention I hate math?  I'm not bad at your standard, everybody-uses-it-every-day type stuff (budgeting, figuring unit costs, balancing bank accounts, messing about with resizing recipes, etc).  I am NOT good at anything more complex than that.  Orbital mechanics?  Right out.  But I can handwave that away.  

I don't know, yet, about figuring out transmission lag from set distances...or what those distances might be, in the first place.  

So that's set aside until the kids go to bed tonight and I get a chance to do some research.  

I got some writing done on a new short story for my current, working collection.  Around 1200 words on it, with a solid idea of where it might go.  

And...I found the music that Molly the assassin likes.  Got 2K words written in about an hour and a half...and had to stop because I had to go get the kids from school (and because my hands were killing me).  

My hands are still killing me.   

*The Schrodinger Paradox--still strongly considering publishing in parts, Kindle only, then putting out a hardback...

Saturday, January 7, 2023

It's Live!

 I got a lot done this past week, after I got the kids back to school.  Even with an autoimmune attack and brain fog.  

Wanna see?

Monday, January 2, 2023

Going forward

 It's a new year.  Couple days in.  It's weird...we've had a couple of utterly beautiful 60+ degree days (it's currently reading 71 on the wireless weather station readout).  In January.  In SW MO.  You know, spring weather. 

(It'll be back to winter weather by the time the kids start school again on Wednesday.  It is SW MO--we have four seasons, but never in any particular order, or for any set amount of time.)

We've gotten all of the major repairs the house needed done--the roof and the carport (which we knew about), and the patio roof (which we didn't, until it fell the fuck off the house).  In so doing, we've drained the savings down to the minimum level, but it's done.  

Christmas is done.  We're done with familial obligations we didn't choose to take on for a few months.  Done with the regularly-occurring expenses required of us by government fiat until...April, when we have insurance coming due for cars and house.  

The days are done getting shorter, and have started lengthening again.  Yeah, we've got another three months of random winter storms headed our way, but we can see the finish line from here.  

It's time to move forward.  

I'm not doing resolutions this year.  I'm setting goals and projects.  What's the difference?  Goals aren't necessarily concrete--projects are.  

I haven't fully decided on all of what I want to plan on this year, but I've got a few ideas.  

On goals...I am going to spend fifteen minutes, twice a day, every day I'm not actively sick, cleaning, straightening, and decluttering (no, that's not counting the cleaning, straightening, and decluttering I do in the kitchen while the microwave is running).  There's a lot of progress made doing just that much.  And then the house can be maintained with that. 

 I'm going to spend at least another fifteen minutes, twice a day, every day I'm not sick, at my sewing machine.  I've got a bunch of scrunchies cut out to make, and I need to make a few pairs of PJ pants for the kids and some for me.  

I am going to spend a couple hours a day working on edits, and a couple hours writing.  

As for finances...I am going to rebuild the savings account without losing ground further.  Than I have to.  Considering the stupid fuckers in charge have discovered that they can tax money by ramping up inflation, the three-to-six-months' expenses is...not what it was three years ago.  

Projects...I have some knitting projects currently on needles.  I have a mostly-finished lacy shawl made with baby yarn, another (which I'm not happy with, and will probably pull out) in sock yarn, and a vest in worsted weight wool-blend yarn.  That's for Odysseus, and I have the back panel finished, and about a third of the front panel.  After that?  My sister's acquired yarn, and has asked me to make her a small afghan, and I have yarn to make a larger one for my living room (my loveseat needs something draped over the back of it).  

I'm planning some sewing projects...I have a bunch of fat quarters cut for scrunchies, and I need to cut some elastic lengths, and just...sit down and make them.  I need to figure out the cuts for sleep pants (I've got the fabric: polar fleece, sweats-type jersey, and flannel), and get those dealt with, now that I have a permanent station for cutting things out.  

The other big project--one that's probably going to take multiple months--is clearing all the stuff out of the garage and getting that set up for a wood-work type workshop.  

Writing projects...I have a finished post-beta reader first draft (and mostly-finished revision) of the second book in the Liquid Diet Chronicles.  I have a finished first draft of a science fiction book that I'm strongly tempted to publish in parts...and then re-publish in one BIG part with an epilogue (that would be The Shrodinger Paradox).  I need to finish a revision of that one, and then it'll be ready for beta readers.  

And then, there's a couple of WIPs.  There's CPA, and there's a couple of ideas for short story has about half the planned stories finished.  The other is still in the planning stages.  And is basically just a vague concept idea, at this point.  

I don't know how many of the projects I'll be able to complete in the coming year.  There really is no telling whatsoever.  I'll try to revisit this at the end of the year.  If I can remember.