December 2008

So yesterday I had to haul Ben in to the vet.

I knelt next to the bed and peered under it. A grumpy Ben peered back.

"C’mon out, big guy," I said.

Ben stared at me. What was I, nuts? There were ninjas out there! And that awful little black cat that was worse than a ninja! Don’t be fooled. The pudge and the falling off things was just a clever ploy to lull us all into complacency. That cat was a monster.

"She’s downstairs," I said.

Ben sniffed. That was what she wanted me to think.

"I’ll protect you," I said.

Oh, please. Ben has lived with me for two and a half years, and is quite aware that I couldn’t fend off an injured pancake. Me, protect him. Did I have any idea how many ninjas he had kept out of the bathroom? It would have been like the shower scene from Psycho, only totally silent and with less cross-dressing.




No, and that was final. It wasn’t safe out there. If I had any sense, I’d be under the bed with him. He’d make room. I could sleep with the shoes.

I went and got a can of cheap canned tuna.

"C’mon, Ben. I have gooshy food!"

Oh, well, why didn’t I say so in the first place? 

I did my towel-bearing-death-from-above move, shoved him into a carrier, then gave him the gooshy food to finish off, which mitigated a lot of his annoyance. Other cats showed up to stare through the bars of the carrier with envy. Sure, Ben got gooshy food. And his own bedroom. With bars. Mom always loved him best.

Once at the vet, Ben was a different cat. No evil little black cat! At worst there might be a few ninjas. He could handle that. Vet ninjas were all getting into the drug cabinet and probably whacked out of Clavamox and ear drops anyway.

A tech came over and cooed at him through the bars–"What a handsome boy! Look at that coat!"

Ben preened. Yes. He was handsome. Fierce, too. Had he mentioned that he ate ninjas?

"Well, he seems alert," said the vet, as Ben prowled the exam room looking for the enemy. "Let me check his mouth…"

Ben did not approve of having his mouth pried open. He flailed, to litle result. Hmm. Generally he could handle vets. He was particularly proud of the one vet that required two techs built like gorillas to get him pinned. That had been a good day, even if he’d ultimately had a thermometer shoved somewhere unspeakable.

Perhaps this vet was related to the little black cat.

Anyway, the end result is that Ben is having a serious herpes flare-up, and now gets pumped full of antibiotic twice a day. There’s a Feliway diffuser in the bedroom–the vet said it works sometimes, and there’s not much else we can do until the herpes is under control, since he may need steroid shots and she’d rather not start him on major mood-altering meds until it’s all cleared up. Ben does Not Approve of having goop shot down his throat twice a day, and shrieks like a banshee whenever I do it, but he’s acting perkier already–I can lure him downstairs with gooshy food, and he came up on the bed for snuggling this morning. So that’s something.

After all, the sooner Ben is back on the job, the sooner the ninjas will stop leaving little piles of shuriken in the back of the cupboards.

*Feliway is a plug-in phermone diffuser thing that’s supposed to make the room smell like mellow happy cat and soothe the beasties.

Site Update!

Yay! If you head on over to you will see a slew of new updates, including information on ordering the game "Black Sheep" preordering the audiobook of Nurk and–most and absolutely exciting of all–drum-roll please–

Pre-orders for Dragonbreath!

(Yes, if I could make that six foot tall blinking block letters, I might.)

(I’m amazed too, at how soon the pre-orders are listed, the thing doesn’t come out until June–although if it’s anything like Nurk, it’ll be shipping in May, much to my flailing and consternation–I mean, the ARC’s just barely got printed!–but hey, that’s publishing…)

Kevin also, in a fit of madness, has posted that the buying art section will be up in February, come hell or high water. Since he’s the one who has to figure out shopping carts and other weirdness, we’ll see how it goes. Once that’s figured out, we can get the shopping cart for done, and that will allow us to actually update the bloody website, with, y’know, wallpaper contest results ‘n stuff.

Some of you may have noticed the new icon gracing t’old blog today. It’s courtesy of Jennie Breeden who does the webcomic The Devil’s Panties, which I have been appearing in for the last couple of weeks. (I know, I love the platypus well, but I really liked how she drew me in this one.) If you start here, you can read the whole saga of us visiting a porn store and soon to be exploring an abandoned Hudson Belks (and it’s a fun strip worth reading in general, and the creator is pure unadulterated awesome. And I’m not just saying that because she fangirls over Digger.)

Kevin would like it to be known that yes, this is exactly what living with me is like, especially the bit about the nouns.

Speaking of Digger, even obliquely, vol. 2 is soon to be available via Diamond, and can be pre-ordered at your local comic store! How cool izzat?

And finally, since this is a pretty narcissistic post already (look at me in a comic! look at my comic! Sheesh…) since ’tis the season, my Annual Wish-List is up over at Amazon, for those friends and relatives and random passers-by who are either obligated by blood and association or moved out of pity or briefly possessed by madness or whatever and want to know what they can get me.

Tangentially related to that, I am feeling the need to get one of those signs that says "Axial Tilt Is The Reason For The Season…"

Tied to the Mast

I am doing a terrible thing.

Well, it’s not really terrible, but it FEELS terrible. It is something that I have fought against doing involuntarily for years on end. I have invested time and money and brainpower into not doing it. I have studied and read up and compared notes with others on how not to do it. I have dug my heels in and Not Done It with a will.

I am feeding the squirrels.

I wasn’t always opposed to squirrel feeding, really I wasn’t. I enjoyed the antics of my squirrel buddies, since they were all so horrifically defective–Lumpy and Stumpy and Gimpy and Stubby, a band of miscreants who suffered every disorder and misfortune known to squirrelkind.

But when you don’t sit right next to the window, when the squirrels become a nameless scourge of obviously highly effective squirrels without a botfly between ’em, when your feeders empty the second your back is turned…you begin to go to the anti-squirrel methods. Hot pepper. Baffles. Mechanized flippers. Anything to control their depredations.

But here I am, years later, feeding them.

I blame Kevin. Here I am, your average garden bird-watcher, putting out birdseed for the little juncos and titmice and chickadees, reveling in my Yankee Flipper birdfeeder* that throws the squirrels off the perch if they try to sit on it. And then reports come in of a vast acorn shortage across the East Coast and into the Midwest. (Seriously. Apparently it’s not just a scarce year, it’s a no-acorns-for-a-hundred-miles year. Biologists are stumped. This is unusual behavior in our oak trees.) And Kevin looks at me with puppy dog eyes** and says "But we have to put out corn! The squirrels are starving!" and I mutter and grumble and stomp my feet and there is more puppy-dog eyes and finally I give up and the next thing I know, I’m dumping out bags of critter food for the little idiots.

He’s right. The squirrels ARE starving. According to some reports, they’re apparently going nuts, raiding trash cans and vegetable patches, and during Halloween season would descend onto porches and skeletonize pumpkins with ferocity that would do piranhas proud. So rather than being a mere side dish beside the acorn harvest, our feeders may be a primary food source for the bushy tailed little rats.


Maybe I can get fifty pound bags of this stuff down at the feed store…

*Still one of the best christmas gifts I’ve ever gotten

**I am the only person on earth this works on. Bald tattooed men were not meant to do the puppy dog look.

Today I shall get up! I shall be productive! I shall run off prints! A lot of prints! A slew of prints! I shall print until–

Crap, I’m out of paper.

The best-laid plans of mice and men…oh, well. Guess I’ll be off on paper-quest first instead.

In other news, Ben does not appear to be sick so much as Sulking. He sleeps on the bed under the blanket, and gets huffy if you remove it. He’s also jumpy. (He will come out, if no other cats are around, to cuddle with me, but the presence of anyone other than Angus sends him back under the bed. I get the definite impression he’s hiding, not that he’s seeking heat the way a sick cat would, as the Underbed is also an acceptable dwelling.) Kevin and I arranged ourselves in bed a few nights ago, working around the sullen intrablanket lump, and I finally said it.

"I think he got his ass kicked."

Kevin petted the grumpy lump. "I think you’re right."

There’s really only one individual in the house who could pummel Ben and live to tell about it. The two nearest cats in size are Angus and Smokey, and Angus loves Ben more than the air he breathes, and Smokey loves the whole world. Also, at "nearest in size" I mean "a smidge over half." It certainly wasn’t Marv, the former patriarch, whom Ben has intimidated thoroughly and who now avoids Ben’s bedroom haunt as containing too much drama.

And it wasn’t the beagle, because the beagle is still alive and does not look as if he has stuck his face in a blender.

But Ben is afflicted with an odd feline chivalry and for whatever reason, doesn’t beat up girl cats. Enter Sami. Sami is a medium sized black female, fairly aggressive towards other cats, (she worships Kevin) and she and Ben had a hissing relationship for quite awhile, which would always end with Ben backing down and slinking off.

My suspicion is that Sami finally hauled off and whupped his ass. In shame and humiliation, Ben has taken to lurking under the blankets and grumbling when disturbed. (It has to be unsettling for a beast used to hunting ninjas to be pummelled by a wee female cat of no particular ninjosity.)

There’s now a sort of interestingly triangular dynamic–Ben intimidates Marv, Marv intimidates Sami, and Sami intimidates Ben. I’ll give it another few days to settle out, and then I may get kitty pheremones or whatever, or just put Ben on drugs until he’s happier with the world.

The Paradox

My life with Kevin is one fraught with dichotomies.

He’s a good person. And by "good" I don’t mean "nice" (as in XKCD "nice") but genuinely good in that he volunteers and rescues cats and works with the boy scouts and generally makes the world a better place. Plus he cooks and does the laundry.

He also has a truly vile sense of humor–part of what attracted me to him in the first place–plays exceedingly violent video games* and routinely forwards me things that make me want to claw my eyes out of my head. And this is excellent and the occasional outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease is arguably part of what makes it possible to live with someone who is otherwise prone to such frequent attacks of virtue.

Also this means that I usually get to be the evil one in the relationship. The worth of this cannot be discounted.

Arguably this pattern was summed up on our second…err…"date" isn’t really the word. This was a hook-up, plain and simple. Both parties were very clear that they were getting together for some hot nasty sex, which was the main–and indeed only–item on the agenda for the evening. (Okay, okay, there may also have been pizza. I can’t remember.) 

I arrived at his place–following a long day at the zoo where I got to pet an ocelot, but that’s another story–to find him frantic. "I have a scout leader meeting tonight! I completely forgot, I have to go to it–it’ll take an hour, I’ll be right back, make yourself at home, there’s drinks or porn if you’re in the mood–" During which speech he was throwing on…a boy scout uniform.

Petting the ocelot was the high point of the day, but it has to be said, this gave it some stiff competition.**

"My god," I said, with my usual tact, "it’s like you went into a phone booth and came out square!"

"Yeah, yeah…" 

"I don’t know if the long-sleeved underwear works with the uniform…"

He stared briefly heavenward, tying his woggle*** or whatever the hell the neck thing is called. "I have to wear two layers so they can’t see the nipple rings."

I think I was still convulsed with laughter by the time he got back from the meeting.

This morning was another case in point. We were enjoying a hot shower when he groaned and slumped against the wall. "Damnit, I have the Christmas parade tomorrow."

My eyebrows climbed. "Ah?"

"Yeah. It’ll eat like four hours. Damnit…"

"What do you have to do?"

There was a sudden distinct lack of eye contact. "…I’m playing Joseph." he mumbled.

I tried to squelch the hysterical giggling. This is a man who, not twelve hours earlier, had made a late-night run to an adult store with me and we’d spent nearly an hour snarking about the packaging art on blow-up dolls and discussing the horrors of sex toy burglary with the staff. A man who would now be riding around in the back of his church’s pick-up truck, in a small town Christmas parade, dressed as the adoptive father of god.

My squelching was unsuccessful. Eventually Kevin gave up and turned the cold water on me.

"BUWWWWAAAAAHHHGHGHH…ha…haha…heh…okay, I probably deserved that…heh heh heh…"

"Yeah, yeah…"

We showered in silence, punctuated by occasional giggles.

"Kevin? Honey? Love of my life?"


"I’ll give you five bucks to yell "Show us your tits!"

He thought about it. I could see him thinking about it.

"Ten bucks! And I could probably get you some Mardi Gras beads…"

Finally he heaved a sigh. "….No."


*I occasionally have to get him past some of the harder bits.

**To those would would point out that this is a day presumed to include sex, I will point out that while I enjoy it greatly, I have nevertheless had sex many many times. I have only petted an ocelot once.

***I am not making this up.

Dangit, I think something’s wrong with Ben again.

He’s still eating his gooshy food, he’s not dehydrated, he’s using the litterbox as near as one can determine, and his nose is the right temperature, so he’s obviously not doing TOO badly. There are no injuries that anyone can find, and the patch that he had licked raw is healing up nicely and regrowing fur. He just doesn’t seem himself. He’s hanging out under the bed, which is unusual, and he hasn’t slept with us at night for a few days.

Best guess would be that the coneing was sufficient stress to kick off another episode of kitty herpes, but he’s acting weirdly jumpy, so I can’t rule out that one of the other cats may have kicked his ass and left him with a serious case of shame. Kevin’s theory is that he’s sulking because the BEAGLE gets to go into the studio and he doesn’t. (The beagle’s destruction is limited to the area near the floor, so cats in general are banned from the studio. I would make an exception for Ben, if he seemed interested, but he’s not waiting outside the door pining or anything.)

Hrrrmpph. I’ll keep an eye on him, and if he’s not back to normal by Monday, guess it’s time to try out the local vet.

Blargh. If he’s still having these problems after a few more months, I may have to put him back on kitty sedatives or something…I don’t want him stressing himself into ill health…

Had an odd dream last night, the only part of which I remember clearly was standing in a forest of very tall trees–a Pacific Northwest style forest, very open, rather than one of the more tangly East Coast ones. There were steel cables hanging down from the trees, and I saw a bird tangled up in one. I thought it was a kingfisher, but it was very high up, and I had a hard time reaching it. I managed to get the end of one of the cables and unwrap it–it was caught in a couple of loops or something (the cables weren’t behaving much like cables, frankly)–and let the bird free. It flew to a tree, became a red-bellied woodpecker (with the usual logic of dreams, it definitely was NOT a red-bellied woodpecker before, as the fluorescent red head would have been impossible to miss.) and scuttled off around the trunk.

Dreams like that always seem like they SHOULD mean something, like they’re rife with Important Personal Symbolism and dripping with Serious Significance. But since the rest of the dream is usually about fending off South Sea cannibals and trying to go Christmas shopping inside an elevator or something, occasionally with walking smelt and Weave boots and the Joker thrown in, I am skeptical. It always reminds me of this newsletter we used to get, way back in the day, from the Breitenbush Hot Springs, which was full of articles by well-meaning people with names like Starmoondreamfeather and Moonwolfjoyraven and similiar explosion-in-a-Mercedes-Lackey-novel monikers, who would tell you about their dreams and sweat lodge visions and whatnot, which usually involved personal growth and getting in touch with the universal spirit of healing love.

And it probably shouldn’t be my place to judge these people, maybe they did dream in clear, lucid, concrete symbolism, but I always wondered if they were leaving out the bits from their dreams where they had a conversation with the Joker while trying to get the Christmas shopping done.

My editor finally asked when they’d get the first draft of Dragonbreath 2, so I’ve been writing furiously on it all day. I think I agreed to much too short a deadline. (First draft by mid-January! Me, delusional? Naaaah…)

On the other hand, I did finally get to the point where I get to use the best line in the entire book–"I don’t want to be a ninja! I want to be a veterinarian!"–which I have been gloating over since I wrote the initial synopsis, which then leads to:

"I like animals!"
"Everybody likes animals! Not everybody gets to be a ninja queen!"

Sometimes I have the best job in the world.

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