September 2005

So James is feeling much better today, and is hoping to go back to work tomorrow. Meanwhile, what with Labor Day and James being home sick today, my internal calender is completely shot. Working at home as I do, I basically gauge what day it is by the two things that adhere to a regular schedule, James and Digger updates. Any day that James is home is either Saturday or Sunday. He was home yesterday, therefore today must be Sunday.

Except that there’s a new Digger up. Dear god. Conflicting information! In a panic, neurons running madly back and forth, waving their axons and flinging papers and coffee cups in the air, my brain has decided that it’s Wednesday. Attempts to convince it otherwise have largely failed.

It’s a good thing that James basically lives to work on something, anything, because if he ever retires, I’ll no longer have any sense of time whatsoever.

So yesterday, we went out to Target and got a new toaster. And what was supposed to be a laundry bag, but which turned out to be one of those little mesh baggies for washing delicates. Except–this is the weird bit–it’s in a laundry bag package. For a different brand. I nearly took the thing apart trying to figure out if there was some hidden snap or something that would cause it to magically turn into the 36 x 24 with drawstring thingy listed on the label. It was like some fiendish intelligence test, which I obviously failed.

While we were at Target, I picked up a pack of underwear. Long-time readers have read of my difficulty with underwear sizes in the past, such as the fact that the numbers, for some purely arbitrary reason, do not correspond to dress sizes. Nor do they correspond to each other across brand lines. I found myself roaming the aisle aimlessly, looking for plain, ordinary white undies. Normal underwear. Sane underwear. Dear god, who in their right mind wears a red thong with “Brat” in red sequins on it? (Had I purchased such, I could then wash it in my newly acquired delicates bag, I suppose.) The thongs are traumatic. They have gotten smaller and smaller over time. When my sister-in-law stayed with us briefly, and I did a load of laundry, it took me about five minutes to figure out what in blazes the things were–I was guessing hair wraps. I was afraid the cat would try to eat one and choke to death. To each their own, I suppose–I wanted something utilitarian. All the utilitarian stuff is in packages, like socks. The stuff on hangers all had sequins, or Winnie the Pooh, or other things that do not belong on a friggin’ thong. This means that one cannot eyeball the stuff on the shelf–you do the math and you takes your chances.

After reading the backs of the packages, I again made the mistake of comparing brands, only to discover that what corresponds to a 14 in one is a 16 in another, and a 16-19 in yet another, and since I realized I have no actual idea what my dress size is anyway, since I never wear a dress, and I wear men’s jeans since they’re half the price, so am I a twelve or a fourteen or a sixteen, or all three,* and only one brand had the actual waist measurements, I made the hideous mistake of taking the waist measurements from that size, comparing it to the dress-size, and then picking another brand that corresponded to the same waist size. It was a bit of complex clothing algebra, do the factoring, balance the equation, solve for x.** I erred large, thinking, in a vague sense, that A) loose underwear is better than tight and B) James had probably picked out a new toaster by now, but would be loitering by the small electronics rather than mount an expedition into the dark realms of Lingerie, so I’d better hurry.

This is how I wound up with underwear that, in the event of a wardrobe malfunction, can be used to shield my entire upper body. And in the event of a sudden rainstorm could double as a rainslicker. If somebody attempted to give me a wedgie, I would have likely have time to talk them out of it, and perhaps do coffee, before they had hauled enough material to make matters uncomfortable.


*This is the most likely scenario.

**That I had to think of my high school algebra teacher, Mr. De Haas, while shopping for underwear, was a crowning cruelty. Ha had a perfectly round head and absolutely straight limbs, and in a bizarre fashion resembled nothing so much as one of the little guys on the Men’s Restroom signs, brought to math-teaching life.

James is sick.

He has some kind of horrible explosive cough, which came up very suddenly, so he spent last night in that special hell where you catnap for ten minutes, wake yourself up coughing, stagger to the bathroom, stagger back to bed, rinse, repeat.

I, needless to say, spent last night in the rather less special hell reserved for the spouses of people doing this. So I’m bedraggled but alive today, whereas he’s completely destroyed, the poor guy.

Other people in the office have had this, and it seems to be largely a twenty-four hour affair, so hopefully he’ll be back on his feet tomorrow, probably in time for me to come down with it.

Good god, it’s Stumpy.

I had written Stumpy off as having gone to the Great Wildlife Vortex in the Sky months ago, but what should limp onto the deck today but a squirrel with a puff of tail and a dangling and dislocated hind leg. I am quite astounded. Unlike Gimpy, her leg does not seem to have formed a false joint or anything, it’s pretty well useless, but her truncated tail is nicely healed, if very short. Amazing.

Wonder where she’s been all this time…

So I just uploaded the last page of the fourth chapter of Digger. Next week, (i.e. two and a half weeks for the reader) I embark on Chapter Five!

I am occasionally a little astounded that it’s gotten this far. The next chapter will introduce at least one (and hopefully a couple, depending on how fast it moves) new minor character, which people familiar with my art may recognize (or not) and I’m looking forward to it.

So that was kinda cool.

The cat decided it was time to get up.

Normally we’re up at 8:30ish, which is fine by her, but since she has no real concept of weekends, our apparently random desire to sleep until 10 baffles and enrages her. We are violating the natural order, damnit! It’s up to Athena, last line of defense against unruly chaos, to get us moving before–before– well, it’d be bad, whatever it was. Trust her.

Her first act is to swipe at my ankle. This does not produce the desired result, since my leg thrashes, booting her upside the head, and I make a “GNRFRFF!” noise but refuse to wake up. A repeat attempt merits a louder “GNNNNRFFF!” and a wilder flail, but no consciousness. As far as my brain is concerned, my ankle is in Outer Mongolia. It will check the telegrams in the morning, but there is absolutely nothing that can happen to my ankle that requires the brain to get up early.

Undaunted, Athena stomps around a bit, then hops onto a chair and begins playing the miniblinds like a xylophone. Another “Unghghg…” comes from the bed, a hand emerges, fingers snap in what the hand thinks is a “Cut that out!” gesture, but which Athena assumes is beatnik applause for her percussion solo. Excited by the crowd’s response, she plays with greater vigor, eventually launching herself at the blinds in a fit of crazed musicianship and falling off the windowsill with a thud.

At this point, James succumbs to the inevitable and gets up. James knows when he’s beaten. Thrilled, the cat tears through the house, so that every five seconds, there’s a thunderous thumpita-thumpita-thumpita passing by the bed. If the fog came in on little cat feet like these, people would assume it was an earthquake.

Also beaten, I get up. I slog into the bedroom, where the cat has plenty of food and water already, I slog to the computer, I flop down. The cat, a job well done, plops down in front of me, does a charming wiggle and roll that combines supreme cuteness and supreme evil, and then chirps at me.

“Bad cat,” I mutter, as James brings the coffee.

“Chirr!” she says happily, and throws up on the rug.

And so, the ritual of dawn is again complete…

Y’all may have noticed that I haven’t said anything here about New Orleans. Nor, after this brief comment, will I again.

I’ll do you all the courtesy of assuming that you feel as any decent human being would feel, and are giving what you are capable of giving, and I’ll assume you’re giving me the same courtesy. I’m an artist. I have no expertise or insight. I barely know how a levee works. I paint hamsters and talk to defective squirrels. So there is nothing I can say that will matter, that cannot be said better by those who actually know what the hell they’re talking about, and I’ll leave it up to them. The world needs my armchair generalling not at all.

And that’s all I have to say.

Another day of gaming with Twitchy the elf!

As long-time readers may recall, the campaign’s premise is that we all have amnesia, and are only slowly learning what we can do. (Seriously, half a dozen sessions, and my only known skills are Hide and Knowledge- Political History. How sad izzat? Based on this, our GM has reduced the rolls needed to establish a skill, just in the interests of moving the campaign along.) Most of us have figured out our classes by now, with a lot of help from the GM, but there’s a few holdouts, such as Gnomey the gnome. Our GM has been breaking himself trying to come up with ways to hint at Gnomey’s class, but it just hasn’t been happening, although by process of elimination, Gnomey’d at least knocked off a few options.

In today’s installment, Twitchy was captured by the enemy, as he has yet to remember how to sneak gracefully. The enemy did not, alas, believe Twitchy’s claim to be a lost life insurance salesman. (Okay, it was a long shot.) A few minutes later, Gnomey followed suit. Fortunately, the rest of the party decided not to keep marching single-file into the arms of the foe before it got silly. In their only successful roll of the evening, Twitchy and Gnomey managed to untie each other’s bonds simultaneously, and leapt into action. Not long afterwards, Twitchy was disembowled. No, not killed. Just standing there holding his innards in with one hand. And looking outraged, of course, because it’s Twitchy.

Gnomey: Now, does this…oh…fill me with rage? You know, like a berserk rage?

GM: You’re filled with rage, but you don’t become a snarling ball of white-hot gnomish fury, no.

Gnomey: DAMN!


Gnomey (resignedly): Okay, do I get an urge to write a song about it?

GM (as the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus practically drift from on high): YES! The lyrics of the epic disembowlment of Twitchy are forming in the back of your head right this minute!

Gnomey: Goddamnit, I’m a bard.

Twitchy (holding guts in): I’m glad to have been a catalyst for this journey of self-discovery…

We’ll draw a merciful veil over the rest of the evening. Twitchy lived, due in large part to Gnomey’s astonishing skill at biting enemy ankles. Endlessly. Until they eventually died. Bards, man, I tell ya.

Botflies! Glorious botflies!

So I glanced out the window today, and saw a lumpy squirrel on the landlady’s feeder. Two big hairless bots, one in the armpit, one centered more or less between the shoulderblades.

It’s a sign of how deeply living in the Wildlife Vortex has warped me that I felt a bizarre sense of relief, as if normalcy had somehow been restored. There had been no botflies earlier in the year, but now, at last, the lumpy squirrel. The sun is shining, hideous parasites are afflicting the squirrels, god’s in his heaven, all it right with the world.

Two Lumps, welcome to the defective wildlife pantheon!

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