Brandon the border collie passed away Saturday morning. He was a very good dog.

He declined very swiftly, which is usually a blessing with dogs–Monday he was stiff, as he usually was, and by Wednesday he couldn’t stand up without help. His back had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer feel his hind legs, and then it was a matter of keeping him comfortable until Kevin got home from traveling and could be with him at the end.

He was twelve years old and a giant for a border, well outside breed standard, so this was pretty much a ripe old age.

It is the nature of herding dogs to divide the world into People and Sheep. Kevin was People. I was…well…the most senior of the Sheep. (I suspect Brandon was silently judging Kevin for carrying on with a Sheep, but such is the devotion of dogs that he allowed this baffling choice to go on.) I was mostly allowed to go about my business as long as Kevin was home, but when Kevin went on a trip, Brandon had to use his best judgment and felt that I needed to stick to a strict schedule and be in the bedroom by 9 pm at the latest. Deviation would be met with long, disappointed looks, and then he would shove his nose under my elbow and flip it up while I was trying to work and walk very close behind my knees if I got up to use the bathroom.

We miss him very badly. I wouldn’t even mind being herded again.

Kevin had him since he was a tiny fuzzy puppy, so this is hardest for him. We are the sort of people who measure out our lives in pets, so we are as used to this as it’s possible to be. It doesn’t get easier, but it does get familiar, so there’s that, at least.

May he herd all the things in heaven.

The Single Most Horrifying Text I Have Ever Received In My Entire Life

Author’s Note: Told with permission. Nay, with encouragement. And it probably needs a trigger warning for horrible…medical…um…good god, I don’t even know.

So I have been having the week that will not die. Kevin had food poisoning, then I put him on a plane, then I had mega food poisoning, then I laid around for a day or two recuperating and by the time I could stay upright without lunging for the bathroom, Brandon the border collie was ill and I had to maneuver an elderly 75lb dog with bad hips into a car, a feat made (just barely) possible by all that mulch I throw around, and then I got home with Brandon and maneuvered him into the house to discover that the beagle had a limp, which meant I spent all day at the vet today.*

But this pales. Pales, I say! In comparison to what happened some days ago.

I received a text from my mother.

It said—I have it before me now—

“Still blizzards and extreme windchill and today my uterus fell out.”

No, go back and re-read it.

I did.

Several times.

It is worth noting that this tells you a lot about my mother, and also about the weather in Upper Peninsula Michigan, which is so dire that it gets mentioned first. (Or maybe that’s just my mother. The windchill would need to be measured in Kelvin before I mentioned that first.)

My reply was…well…honestly, I gotta say, there’s only so many things you can say to this statement.

MOM: Also have been walking around with another infection for months
MOM: Yep. It’s still attached, but now I know what it looks like.
ME: …please tell me you’re messing with me and this is not a thing that happens.
MOM: Went to the doctor who was somewhat shocked. Says I need surgery.
ME: Get the surgery! I will pay for it! Oh god!
MOM: It does actually happen. If you google it  you will be totally grossed out.**
ME: Excuse me, I have to go get a total hysterectomy right now.

Mom informed me that she was going to pick up my kid brother, and suddenly a thought occurred to me. It was a bad thought. It was a bad thought that became what is, possibly, the most unfortunate string of words I have ever had to type together in one place.


MOM: I shoved it back it. It seems to be staying put for now.
MOM: It’s really much more inconvenient than painful.

There is another gap here, where I seem to recall wandering the kitchen making mewling noises like a baby raccoon that has fallen out of a tree and then perhaps been forced to read the collected works of the Nihilist philosophers

Eventually I rallied.

ME: I really want to be supportive right now, but I also need to drink until I do not remember this conversation, so I am conflicted.
MOM: Haha

At this point, I sought the comfort of several female friends, who largely reacted by going into the shower and sobbing and scrubbing themselves with steel wool, but my buddy Otter looked it up for me in between rocking and sobbing and determined that yes, this is actually a thing that happens.

(I am so sorry, readers, to inform you of this. Truly. But also glad that I am not suffering this knowledge alone.)

It is also–har har–hereditary.

Childbirth is the major contributing factor, thankfully, so I am probably in the clear. (Otter suggests I also avoid coughing for the rest of my natural life, and probably sneezing if I can help it.)

MOM: Also, if you are of Northern European descent, that makes it more likely.
ME: Excuse me while my cervix builds a moat and puts bars on the windows.

And then…

MOM: Thank you for making me laugh! Although I don’t want to laugh too hard…
MOM: Nooo, too much laughing NOOOOO!
MOM: Plop
ME: Go watch Dr. Zhivago or something! Don’t laugh!
MOM: Just kidding. Well, about that bit, not about the rest of it.

Yes, dear reader, that bit was my mother trolling me. Very successfully, might I add.

Anyway. If you don’t want to google “uterine prolapse” (and Jesus, why would you?) it happens. It just sort of…falls forward and outward. There are a couple of methods of fixing it, most involving hysterectomy and a few involving silicone inserts. My mother goes in for surgery when her insurance okays things.

She is also in no pain, thinks it’s funny–now–and adds that uteruses are astonishingly small. And was happy to have me blog about it. So. Um. Picture the “More You Know” rainbow going behind this post.

It’s been a rough week, I won’t lie, but this is arguably the single most wildly bizarre thing in it.

2015. Off to a helluva start. For everybody in the family.

*Official diagnosis: The beagle was so upset that Brandon got to ride in the car and he didn’t that he tore around having hysterics, popped his patella out, and then popped it back in. He got his car ride, and also a nail trim and painkillers. Brandon got lots and lots of painkillers. I? Did not get painkillers. I got Pepto-Bismol. The universe is deeply flawed.

**She is not lying.

Everything Happens At Once!

First of all, I have a new short story up at Apex Magazine!

Apex # 68

It’s called Pocosin and has a possum god. You can read it for free, though I hope you’ll consider subscribing to one of the best little SF magazines around! (There’s also an interview with me.)

Also, Dragonbreath #10 : Knight-Napped! hits the shelves today! Even if you don’t buy a copy, totally go look at it in the store just to boggle at SOLID FOIL COVER!

(There are like mondo huge advertising things coming, none of which are quite done yet, but I will link when they go live, because they’re just kinda neat and impressive.)

And I’m on the very last Hamster Princess 2 illustration, and if I can finish it today, this will be like Triple Threat Day.

It’s January And The New Me Looks A Lot Like The Old Me

Honestly, I didn’t so much want a new me as to find the DLC for the old me that has the extra energy packs. I like me, but nobody warned me at character creation that life was basically an ammo conservation game with very few vending machines.

Some years I do indeed feel the rush of “It’s the next year! Let’s rock this!” and some years (like this one) I mostly just go…”Linear time. There’s a thing. It’s like next week, except I’m supposed to be excited.”

Maybe this is a function of age.

Anyway, my writing output is pretty down these last few weeks, barring podcasts. All I have been doing is putzing around with the Ren’Py game engine and finishing up the last of the 300+ hamster illos for the first two hamster princess books. And I downloaded the Zombies Run 5K trainer.

So far–I’ve done two episodes–the first was fun, the second rather dull. It gets another shot–I think they had to establish a baseline or something–and if it doesn’t get more engaging, I’m switching to the actual Zombies Run app, which is apparently a blast and has Margaret Atwood as a mad DJ or something.

(Although I must point out at this point that I do not run. There is no mere app that will cause me to do so. The only things that I will run for these days are connecting flights and maybe serial killers, and only if they have chainsaws.* There are sports bras that enable women of my topographic upper dimensions–or, as I prefer to be called, “F-class Destroyers”–to run, but they require specialty engineering. I have a sports bra that is slightly less specialized and I can speed walk, and that’s as good as we’re going to get. Also I get shin splints. The zombies will simply have to accept these limitations.)

And I made an image map in Ren’Py and I was super proud and it worked and everything and then I realized it was completely wrong for my game design, but still. I’M PROUD, DAMNIT.

Anyway, 2015, so far, so good, although I don’t really feel like it will start until tomorrow, when it will be A Real Work Day With Real Work On A Real Schedule, and then we’ll see how it goes.

*If it’s just a knife, I’ll take the hit.