“For Though Ill Winds Blow, You Are Not Alone…”

This month has been a Very Long Century.  I was originally planning to share the long-lost “Annotated Excerpt from the Book of Lemminations”, that I excavated from the caverns of my writing past but realized, to my horror, that it’s depressingly prescient of the current situation (it was written in 2007) and just, ugh.  Not right now.  Maybe later, when we aren’t in the middle of an apocalypse.

So, how are you all holding up?  Everyone staying home (or at least avoiding humans), hydrating, and keeping up on their self-care?

I’m more or less sticking home, and I am absolutely climbing the walls.  I did go for a drive last Friday that ended up being just a wee little bit longer than I was intending it to be.  I sort of got kidnapped by a highway and accidentally ended up out in the Berkshires of Way Western Massachusetts.  It turns out that there’s a 30 mile stretch of nothing after Exit 3 on the Mass. ‘Pike, which I had been unaware of.  Oops?  In retrospect, I should have known the drive was not going to go according to plan when I wasn’t able to stop and visit the old hospitality god’s shrine to leave a small offering as I meant to.  There was someone there, and in these complicated times I didn’t wish to disturb them, and so passed by, whispering a greeting to the god as I went.

The roads are an odd place to be these days.  It’s still early in the year here in New England, so a warm, sunny day would normally have a fair amount of traffic and the sidewalks should be crowded with people, and they really aren’t.  This is both good and terrifying.  Places like Sturbridge are usually crowded with people visiting the living history museum of Old Sturbridge Village or exploring the dozens of antique shops, and being terrible, rubber-necking tourist drivers, but instead, they are nearly ghost towns.  It’s heartbreaking and I found myself almost wishing for a damned tourist driving 5 miles an hour.  Almost.  I grew up in a town where the roads to the ocean and the White Mountains intersect, and so I have a special dislike of that, but still…it’s a familiar aggravation and I found myself missing them. Who knew the things one would find unexpectedly comforting?

It’s easy these days, looking at the news, and seeing all of the people who aren’t following social distancing and self-quarantining protocols, and feeling angry and defeated. Myself, I’m choosing to “look for the helpers”, as it were.  The empty streets that speak of how many are taking things seriously and taking precautions for themselves, and for others.  The rainbows drawn on sidewalks in chalk, or with markers and taped to windows that whisper of people wanting to brighten each others lives.  The signs, both on business billboards and handwritten on cardboard on people’s lawns, that share encouragement or silly jokes or just a reminder that “We are here.  You are not alone. We love you.”.

I drove through towns where I have passed before where I had seen flags and signs that broke my heart at the hatred they vomited into the world, that have been removed or replaced with encouragements.  I don’t have illusions that they have magically changed their ways, but still I have hope that this has changed their hearts and when we have moved on down the road from here that they will be better than they were.  It’s a small hope, but it’s one I’m clinging to.  Stranger things, after all, have been known to happen.

To be honest, I really don’t want the world to go back to the way it was before this.  The way things were were so badly broken and this is just highlighting how dysfunctional “normal” was.  This is as bad as it is, because of how bad things were before.  No, I do not want to go back to that.  I want us, instead, to build a new normal.  A better normal.  One that doesn’t leave people behind.  One that makes sure that everyone has what they need to not just merely survive, but to thrive.  I think we have an opportunity to do it right now, to completely change course and go down a different, better road, and I want us to do it.  I know I’m working for it.

I’ve been painting a bunch of smol monsters and sharing them on social media this past week.  I’m trying to get to a point where I can share one a day, to give people at least a brief moment of cuteness.  I haven’t exactly succeeded on that goal, because anxiety disorders are eating my brain, but I’m trying at any rate. (Side note:  if there’s a monster you’ve seen me share and you do want it, all of them are $25, plus $5 for shipping. I’m working on getting them up in the shop, but you don’t have to wait for that…just ping me and we’ll work it out.)  I should probably create a hashtag for them to make them easier to track down, now that I think of it.  That would be smart, or something.

That’s it for now.  Time to go get dinner started and then work on painting more monsters or maybe a nice Foxentree.  Hope that all is well with you and yours.  Be well, my loves.

In parting, please enjoy this moment of feline harmony…

A Slice of Life With Cats: The Infamous Window Kitty Incident

Since we nearly had a reprise of the Window Kitty Incident earlier this evening, and it occurs to me that we could also use silly stories, I give to you the Infamous Window Kitty Incident.

Torin, my ancient tabby cat, is a window cat (or he was, until he turned out to be somewhat allergic to direct sunlight, because he is gigantic and also a wee, delicate flower with all sorts of interesting health issues…secondhand pets, I tell ya).  Given his druthers he would happily spend his entire day sleeping in a window in the sun.  A number of years ago, shortly before we found out about the sun issue, we lived in a place that had a big bay window that he loved to loaf in and spent most of his time there.

Now, the folks next door had a pair of cats, who looked rather unnervingly like my two boys, Torin and his big brother, Ajah, who was a big, black cat with gorgeous green eyes and the personality of an extremely melodramatic 13-year old girl.  Since neither Torin nor Ajah went outside, it pretty regularly gave me a heart attack to see one of them wander by.

One afternoon, the tabby decided to hop up on the low concrete wall under the bay window, which came up just high enough that he was able to stand on his hind legs and peer in.  Torin was, as usual, napping in the window, and woke up to see a cat that looked exactly like his mirror image staring at him, practically in his nose.  He panicked, bolted under the bed (timid does not come close to how nervous he was in his youth), and did not come out for several hours.

Later that night, my then-boyfriend and I were watching tv in the living room, when Torin hopped back up onto the window platform.  All of a sudden I hear him start growling.  I look up to see him fluffed up, ears flattened against his skull, tail lashing, and he is snarling and hissing and clearly Very Pissed Off.  I jumped up to grab him and get him away from whatever it was that had him actually freaking out, and nearly got bitten.  He was completely target locked on the window, where there was a tabby face looking at him, snarling and- 

Reader, I lost it.  I sat straight down on the floor, laughing my ass off, because my gigantic wimp of cat, who needed to be taught that any new toys were not going to kill him and had once run away in fear from a piece of kielbasa, was attempting to straight up murder his own reflection.  Mind you, this is a cat who normally passes the mirror test, but he was utterly convinced that the Window Kitty was the cat next door, and Window Kitty Needed Killin’.  Window Kitty needed killin’ so much that I eventually had to herd 17 pounds of snarling, angry cat it into the bedroom and lock him in for a while, and for the next few weeks, he was not allowed near the window at night at all because he was itching for a rematch.

I still have to keep an eye on him sometimes, because every now and then he gets a look in his eye that clearly says he’s still looking for Window Kitty and wants to settle the score once and for all…

Silk Ribbons and Story Bones: Traveling In Times Of Pandemic.

I’ve deleted and rewritten this post from the blank page up at least three times in the last 2 days, because every time I blink, things have changed again.  I’m just going to give in and go for a debrief of where things stand and what I’m going to be up to now that we live in the time of pandemic and everything just got an order of magnitude more stressful and complicated.

The situation:  I live in Massachusetts, which was officially declared under a state of emergency on the 10th, since we’ve got a few cases of Covid-19 here. 95 as of yesterday, most related to some jackass having contracted it in Italy, who decided not to self-quarantine and go to a conference in Boston (I have Opinions on them, and they are *deeply* unkind).  Mostly what that means right now is that the state can do things like tell people to work from home, cancel events, and request federal aid to deal with the situation more effectively.  (Not getting into my opinions on the fed. response because jfc…)  The good news is that I am pretty low risk for exposure, between my un/self-employment and Himself having already been between job sites (he’s a Union electrician, so this is normal in the winter) before anything got started, plus we’re somewhat hermitish, as a general rule.  This is also good, because I am uninsured and have bad lungs (birth defect), which means that if I do get it, I’m basically fucked and it’s been nice knowing y’all.  I’m not going to sugar-coat that one; I am one of the folks that’s high risk for ending up being written into the lists of the dead, and I freely admit to being more than a little scared of that prospect.

However, I’m holding onto the fact that I *am* very low risk for exposure, I am trained in how to avoid contact contagions, and for once, my agoraphobia and mild neuroses about germs is a useful thing.  The household plan is to hermit as much as possible for the next few weeks and go from there. 

What does that mean for my travel writing?  Well, it does put a massive roadblock across on my plans for the spring, that’s for sure.  I had been planning to start checking out some of the local touristy type places as well, now that the weather’s getting nicer, but those will have to wait for now.  Instead I’ll be focusing on finding story bones out on the road to sing tales from, because I can do that without actually having to interact with people beyond putting gas in the truck. So more stories of myth and memory.

I’ve also been starting to reacquire jewelry-making supplies, and while I’m going to have to figure out a workaround for not having all of the beads I was hoping to have, I do have an assortment of wires and strings, and am waiting impatiently for a package of sari silk ribbons to arrive, to make necklaces out of.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll return to my earliest jewelry-making habits and see what I can make use of from twigs and seeds and stones collected from the woods nearby.

More artwork and getting artwork posted.  Working on talismans and trying to get caught up on stuff I should have sent people a while ago.  That sort of thing.

So…Interesting Times, y’all, eh?  I don’t know about you, but I *really* want some boring for a bit.  Also, a nap.

Speaking of a nap, it’s past 2 in the morning and I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.  Good night, all.  Here’s to things getting boring really soon.