I am unmotivated today.

I got some stuff done, mostly small, got two and a half pages written on Black Dogs (which sounds almost inconsequential to me, but I dunno how much writers write a day anyway. It seems like I used to get more done, but if so, it wouldn’t have taken me four years to write four hundred pages. So maybe that was fine.) Got the majority of a Digger done. Did a little work on a painting, hardly any, and as much as I liked the sketch when I started, now that there’s a wash or two on there, I find the fires of enthusiasm have largely guttered out. They may re-ignite. I took a longer nap than usual today, suffered through dreams of gigantic, chitin-encrusted beetles the size of dinner plates, their carapaces elaborate and whorled and dirty, like a baroque calliope that’s seen better days. They sound sort of neat, described that way, but they were pretty freaky, crawling around on a concrete floor, occasionally spreading their shell cases and flying. Some of them were so large that there were other, more conventional beetles, like broad cockroaches, perched on their backs, two and three to a baroque beetle. I didn’t know whether I wanted to run screaming or take a photo. Then I realized that one had crawled up the back of my chair, and I could actually feel the legs brushing against my neck, and woke myself up with a twitch.

More weird birds in my dreams. The other night, it was some kind of duck that looked like it had been crossed with one of those giant alligator snapping turtles, the ones that look less like turtles and more like gigantic eels hunting from a conveniently mobile rock. The duck had an extremely broad head, and a violet-pink organ of some sort on the end of its bill, sort of like a starnosed mole, but…err…not quite. See, I remember these things, but I cannot draw them. It’s like an out of focus photograph, with one or two clear spots, but most of the whole just isn’t there. Once upon a time I was frustrated that I couldn’t remember these things from my dreams–they seemed like they would make such fabulous paintings, and yet, I could never get it right. Now I realize that they probably weren’t actually realized in my dreams–I haven’t forgotten key details, my brain just never bothered to make them up in the first place. I am probably remembering what was there fairly clearly, but the illusion of complexity shreds when I wake up. In some ways, it’s easier to write–I can describe this all, hit only the high points, and there it is, an alligator-snapping-duck. If I had to paint it, I would have to not only create the parts that weren’t in the dream, but make them somehow fit the vague, blurry shapes of the dream, which is nearly impossible. Probably there are some artists out there, surrealists more likely, who can accurately paint the architecture of dreams. At this point in time, I’m not one of ’em.

Anyway, despite having gotten some things done, I feel as if I have been spectacularly unproductive. Then I feel guilty. Then I have no motivation to do anything to assuage the guilt. Then I feel guilty for not being motivated. Then I feel mildly annoyed for wallowing in guilt.

Eventually, I tell myself to shut up and read a book. So it all works out.

You know it’s gonna be one of THOSE days when you get up to get a refill on a cup of coffee and stand there for a minute with a half-full cup in your hand, going “Where is the coffeepot?” and finally realize you’re in the bathroom.

Speaking of Doves…

I was driving to the post office today, and saw a dove get hit by a car….and fly away from it.

The dove flew low across the road, into the path of the car ahead of me, clapping stumpy little wings to gain height. I expected, as such encounters usually end, to see the bird shoot out from the other side, a foot away from certain death, with birdy aplomb. This happens all the time to me, with various species…various species that are, admittedly, usually more graceful than the lumbering dove, but still.

Instead, there was an explosion of white feathers over the front of the car, and as I drew breath to make the “ACK!” noise that would accompany watching an innocent, albeit stupid, dove get Darwinized, (and presumably an equally innocent driver be traumatized) the bird wheeled drunkenly into view, shedding white down from its tail* and continued to fly, gaining height, clearing the road, the verge, and finally landing in a tree, nothing evidentally broken. The car had evidentally brushed its tail, doing about thirty-five mph.

This happened about a mile as the dove flies from my house, and this would just be a normal tale of birdish stupidity, except that I was standing at the back window about ten minutes ago, and there’s a dove out there. This would not be an event. I have lots of doves in the back. But unlike this newcomer, the vast majority of my doves have tails.

No. Surely not. It boggles credibility. I mean, there must be thousands of doves in the square mile area of backyard and suburb embracing my house.

That, or there really IS a vortex…

*and probably other white stuff, because I know *I* lose control of my bowels when I fly into a car

It’s Like A Prince Song Out There…

Heard that classic thrumming “Oo-Oooo-Oooo” that indicates the mourning doves are out in force.

This is a lovely noise.

Once.

After about five minutes, you want to throw a brick at it.

While many bird songs are undoubtedly about sex, they don’t really sound like it. A bird singing “I’m-so-sexy!” sounds much like a bird singing “Worms-today! Worms-tomorrow! I-love-worms!” or “Get-the-hell-out-of-my-territory-before-I-line-my-nest-with-your-spleen!” At any given moment, any number of birds could be filling the air with avian pick-up-lines, but as a layperson, I merely smile vaguely out the window at the happy little chirps.*

Doves, however, sound obscene. A dove cooing, even when it is probably nothing more offensive than “This is my bit of seed, go scratch in your own, jerk,” sounds laviscious. It is a low, throbbing, purring kind of voice, a voice better suited to selling a certain variety of pay-by-the-minute phone call than to a relatively inoffensive bird. Just as owls, through no particular fault of their own, have a call like lost souls wandering in the dark, doves, through no particular fault of their own, sound like something that belongs on a porn soundtrack. (The fact that they sometimes sound a little sad only adds realism, as we all suspect that behind the erotic fantasy is usually somebody thinking glumly about whether they’re going to make the car payment. )

It was almost anticlimatic, therefore, to glance out the window and find the big pinkish male dove gettin’ it on with the smaller grayish female dove. Typical. I would have thought they’d have done it earlier in the season, since all the other birds have fledglings already, but perhaps they’re a multiple-nest-a-year species.

One of these days, I’m going to move, and then I’m going to observe my new backyard in this level of detail, and we’ll see if this house really is at the nexus of some kind of animal sex and disfigurement vortex, or if it’s just me…

*I assume whale song is the same way. Since a lot of songs seem to be sung by the males to the females, I occasionally wonder if all those new-age recordings are a cetecean equivalent of an obscene phone call.

Killer Mutant Meme Attack!

‘Cos…y’know.

1)Total number of books owned?
I am willing to kill ten minutes on a meme post, but bugger if I’m killing a whole morning on a census. Last time we moved, books formed about half our boxes (some of which still have not been unpacked.) I’m gonna say “over a thousand” and call that good.

2) The last book I bought?
Child of a Rainless Year. Haven’t read it yet.

3) The last book I read?
Re-read Raising the Stones by Sheri S Tepper yesterday. (One of my favorites of hers, perhaps for novelty–the standard set-up for a Tepper novel almost always has a shocking moment of revelation wherein long-established thing X is revealed to really be thing Z. (No! Not thing Z!) While quite a good writer, after awhile you start playing the “spot-the-revelation” game. Raising the Stones establishes early on that God is a fungus and nobody is ever surprised by this, so it works out well. And I’m a sucker for neo-fungal utopias.)

4) 5 books that mean a lot to me?
The phrasing of these meme question is odd–I could list dozens of books I really ENJOYED, but books that mean a lot to me seems like it should be something else again. Hmm.

Jinian Footseer by Tepper. And probably The Gate To Women’s Country too.
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. (Well, hell, almost anything by McKinley…)
The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane (yes, it’s a Star Trek novel. But I loved it so, and to this day will buy anything by Duane more or less the instant I see it.)
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling.

Mostly those are books I read obsessingly as a teen, or comfort books, or whatever. If I was going to include mere FAVORITES, instead of books that meant a lot to me, I would include stuff by Mieville and Pratchett and Connie Willis and Janet Kagan and…yeah.

5) Tag 5 people and have them fill this out on their ljs:
No.

James, who is eligible for canonization (and hopefully some freaky weird imagery to go with it, perhaps a sacred burning Immaculate Smallrus or something) got the website fixed, without have to re-enter everything, so it’s a glorious day. We have updateability! In theory! I haven’t had the nerve to try yet!

But it’s allll goood.

Lot of cardinals out on the feeder. A horde of cardinals. A slew of cardinals…no, it would have to be a college of cardinals, right? Anyway, a good number of ’em.

Oddly enough, they seem to come in sexually distinct waves. Two females will appear, hop around, snap up some safflower, and then leave. Squirrels, grackles, the blue jay, the finches, they all come through and leave. Then a wave of three or four males will appear. At least one still has some white fluff on him, presumably from fledging, giving him a slightly moldy appearance. They’re rather more belligerant to one another. After awhile, they leave, and the females return a few minutes later.

Birds are weird.

The new website is up. Sort of.

In a stroke of digital irony, some set of permissions is locked down wrong, or something, and the end result is that the website, whose great virtue was to be its ease of update, cannot in fact be updated. This is the sort of thing that makes me whoop with painful laughter, and causes cracks to appear in James’s mellow facade, with the screaming of “FUCK!” and the ritual thumping of the desk and so forth. Hopefully he will be able to fix it. There is a chance, regrettably, that it will all have to be re-installed, meaning that I would have to re-upload all that art, and re-enter all those descriptions. While that would be distinctly agonizing, these things do happen, and I suspect that I could probably get it all done in one intensive, brutal day. The cost to my personal realization of Zen would be immense, but hey, I wasn’t using it for anything anyway.

But anyway, it’s up in beta mode. We still don’t have all the stuff we’d like working, some things are funky, and I don’t have all the art uploaded, but nevertheless!

www.metalandmagic.com

Edit: Also, it may be up and down for several days, so if you try to get to it and it isn’t there, just try back later–we’re probably trying to fix something.

I was idily contemplating sketching, the nature of stamp collecting, whether someone in a world without stamps would nevertheless feel a faint yearning for the licking and the affixing into books and begin collecting tongues instead (see, this is why I shouldn’t read Clive Barker before bed.) when the bathroom door opened, and a pantsless James called out that plaintive question that has plagued man for generations.

“How do I remove a tick, again?”

Alas, poor James. He recently started mountain biking again, getting an excellent workout and plenty of fresh air, but also acquiring a passenger while at Umstead Park. A deer tick, a piece of bloated punctuation, had latched onto his thigh

And I realized that I can’t remember, if I ever knew. I’m used to the BIG ticks, and even that experience was decades ago, and on the dog. The teeny weeny deer ticks, in addition to their exciting Lyme disease carrying capabilities, are something else again.

“We used to burn them off…” said James, eyeing his leg and presumably wondering how he was going to fine tune the Bic to a tick who had the indignity to be that teeny.

“Nobody’s burning anything off.”

My first notion was “Shit! Better call Mavis!” However, it was about seven in the morning there, and Mavis might have been sleeping, so we turned instead to the Trusty Internet. I sat at the computer. James stood by my chair. His tick, by neccessity, came along. Man, woman, and invertebrate, all in this together, consulted the web. I found a website, which James (and possibly the tick) read over my shoulder.

The web advised us to grasp the tick gently with tweezers and draw straight out, then fish the mouthparts out like a splinter if you had the poor luck to get tick jaws stuck in your flesh. Armed with this knowledge, with his usual aplomb, James and his tick retired to the bathroom to spend some quality time together.

It all came out well enough, no apparent tick bits were left in situ, much soap and water was in evidence, I have finally convinced James that he really needs to go to the doctor now, just to see if they can test him for Lyme disease, and I sat in the other room and had the heebiest of jeebies.

If I ever acquire such a passenger, James will not only have to do the honors, he’ll have to tackle me, because I’ll be running through the house screaming “GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFFFFFF!”

So it was an exciting morning.