In which there is ketchup

So, we went to Boskone, and it was fun.

I had my doubts, as we drove out last Thursday morning, to catch the Downeaster to Boston.  It had snowed on the overnight, and the Amtrak lot at Brunswick is uncovered, as are most of the parking lots in Maine. Honestly, you’d think it never snowed here.

Still, it had snowed, and I had visions of us having to shovel out a parking space, if, in fact, the lot was open at all.

Now, this?  Is the upside of being a pessimist.  We get so many more nice surprises than optimists.  For instance — yes the lot was both full of snow and full of cars, but!  there were two spaces available, and a front-loader on the case clearing the snow.  The nice operator dug out one of the two available spots for us, leaving us fresh for a small tussle with the “automatic parking meter,”  which, given the snow and the temperature, and all, was a little less automatic than one might wish.  Eventually, however, Victory Was Ours, and we rolled our suitcases down to the actual train station, and boarded in good order.

We arrived in Boston to find that — surprise! — North Station was undergoing construction and the Taxi Feeding Grounds from which we have for many years claimed our ride across town was — unavailable.  In fact, there were no taxis to be seen.

Finally, we walked up Portland Street, to the Kimpton Onyx Hotel, which had done us a good turn once before, and asked the nice person on the front desk to call us a cab, which she very kindly did, and we were on our way.

Boskone was lovely.  We saw a lot of people we hadn’t seen in years, what with one thing and another; had a delightful Friends of Liad breakfast, and several stimulating panels.  We signed books; I lost my voice, and on Monday morning, in the teeth of a very pretty little snow that did very little violence to the Traffic of Boston, given that it was a holiday, we were returned to North Station, where a nice Transit Authority Person was able to give us succinct and accurate directions to Amtrak, and so to Brunswick, and thence to Waterville, where we were very glad to see the cats, and vice versa.

We had a celebratory Home Again pizza, as is our habit, and a good night’s sleep.  This morning, we slept in, and, now that my hair is dry, I will be going out to the grocery store.  After lunch, I will delve into The Taxes, and Steve will be hitting the galleys for Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four.

So, yanno:  Back to normal, until next Thursday, when Steve will be reporting to the Cardiac Unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center to have his generator replaced.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that today is Belle’s ninth birthday, which she is celebrating by sleeping in the sun, stretched full length on the cedar chest.

. . .and that?  Catches us all up.

Here, have a picture from the con.

Coon Cat Logic

Those of you who have been following along for a while, hereanthere, will possibly recall that I amuse myself from time to time telling stories about the cats, their behavior, their possible motives, and their Catly Powers. Mostly, this is whimsy, but occasionally the cats step up and prove that Real Life is stranger than whimsy.

As for instance, last night/very early today.

I have not, for various reasons been sleeping particularly well. The cats have really been throwing their weight behind the whole night-time comfort thing; it’s been rare, indeed, lately to wake out of a bad dream to find that I have less than two Coon cats holding me down. Often, all three are present.

This morning/last night, I had been asleep, and I was having a very. . .tense. . .dream, from which I was roused when Belle, who had been sleeping on my feet, strolled up to my pillow and began to knead and purr.

Now. . .in the Normal Way of Things, Belle is my go-to put-me-to-sleep expert. She just has Awesome Skillz, which I attribute to her former career as Mom Cat and on-call Aunt.

This morning, however, she stopped in mid-knead, ceased purring, spoke to me rather peevishly (“Oh, for goodness’ sake; how did you get in there, you stupid kitten?”), and jumped down. I sighed, regretfully, turned over the pillow, and was just wondering if maybe I should get up when — Belle returned. With Trooper.

Belle went back down to the bottom of the bed and settled on my feet. Trooper stared into my face for a minute, sighed, and threw himself against my chest, tucked his head firmly under my chin, wriggled until he had gotten my hand to rest on his belly, and started to produce the deep, athletic, whole-body rumblings for which he is particularly known.

. . .and I went back to sleep, with no more dreams (that I remember, anyway.)

So, that.

And now to work.

Everybody stay comfy.

Catching up, Sunday Edition

Yesterday, was Trooper’s ninth birthday.  Here he is at Opening Ceremonies, ignoring the camera:

I am remiss in reporting here that I ordered in a steam mop.  Today I used it for the first time, on the ceramic tile in the entryway, the kitchen floor, and the floor of the master bathroom.  I can report that it does the job, and it’s easy.  The whole contraption weighs less than the bucket of water I needed to tote around to clean the floors with a regular wet mop, so I’m sold.  Will try it a little later on the wood floors, but I don’t foresee any problems.

This particular unit has a core unit that detaches, so you can steam-clean, say, the bath tub!  Really looking forward to trying that out.

We have had deliveries, including the Dr. Who Barbie, Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming, a case of paper, my new Linux desktop, Steve’s new Linux laptop, and cable-wrap, because Sprite keeps getting tangled in the computer wires on her way to the side of the desk where the adding machine lives, because she loves to sleep with her head on the adding machine keyboard.  Yes, I know, but she’s a cat; we don’t question, we adjust.  Monkeys are good at adjusting.

We have received in the mail our countersigned contracts for our stories in Release the Virgins!  Steve’s story is “Command Decision,” mine is “The Vestals of Midnight.”  The publisher lets us know that …Virgins will be available from the the Usual Suspects in early January.

What else?

We’ve been working.  Accepting the Lance is due on Madame the Editor’s desk at Baen by the end of January, if not sooner, and there are still a number of bridges to be built.  Steve read through the entire manuscript to date yesterday, and today we’re talking Story Stuff.  For those who are curious, here’s what the manuscript looks like.

. . .and I do think that catches us up.

Everybody be well.

That could have been worse, actually

There is a Tall Bookshelf in the bedroom, that overlooks the bed. Historically, this is a favorite cat napping spot, even unto the Old Digs. Often, it’s Scrabble up there, though Belle also enjoys the aspect. Trooper seems to have given it over in favor of the new chest of drawers, where it’s just him and my jewelry box; and Sprite prefers the bed itself.
 
As may be.
 
Now, this morning,  I was napping in the bed, with Sprite on my stomach; Trooper on the chest; Belle atop the bookcase. Scrabble came into the room, jumped to the headboard (a wide ledge, also, perhaps, meant to be a bookshelf, but which is in reality the Path to the Tall Bookshelf), and made for the Tall Bookshelf with businesslike little steps, which echoed into the bed, and roused me.
 
I saw Scrabble about to leap to the top of the Tall Bookshelf. I saw Belle asleep, o! so asleep, on the Tall Bookshelf, and I said to Scrabble — “Don’t do it!”
 
She’s a cat. Did she listen to me?
She makes her jump, I hold my breath, anticipating Screams of Outrage, and cat bodies tumbling from on high.
 
And Scrabble lands — on top of Belle, there being no other place TO land.
Belle wakes up, blinking. And for a few seconds they just. . .looked. . .at each other, kind of like, Wait! What’re we supposed to do now?
Belle recovered herself first; she opened her mouth, and — made a noise. Not even a hiss, just a kind of loud poof!
 
This got Scrabble back on script, and she jumped down to the headboard, stomped away, jumped to the floor, and exited the room.
 
All remaining in the bedroom when back to sleep.

In which we have arrived

So, here we are at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, having been ably shifted by the efficient and good-natured crew from J. Goodwin Enterprises, who exclaimed over and over again about what a pretty house and yellow!  Yellow looked so nice, and bright (does no one have yellow rooms in Maine?)  The crew having got us out of the old digs and into the new in record time, we were in good time to pick the cats up from their day at the spa.

We got all four carriers into the living room at the same time, and opened the gates so that the cats could emerge together and commence exploring their exciting! new! environs!

Belle and Sprite immediately dove under the sofa.  Trooper made a run for the cellar door, which is in approximately the same location in this house as the last.  Scrabble. . .Scrabble glanced about her, muttered something and proceeded to  take the Grand Tour — over and over again, as if memorizing the Location of Everything  (which is going to keep her busy for a while, as the Location of Everything is in a state so fluid it puts fluids to the blush).

A little later in the evening, Belle joined Scrabble in her walking about (this house is in the shape of a lopsided U, with Steve’s office at the upper end of the tall arm, and my office at the upper end of the shorter arm, so there’s plenty of hallway to cover, not to mention the rooms themselves).

Later in the evening, as we were sharing our first glass of wine in the New Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, Princess Jasmine Sprite joined us and mounted the Cat Castle, from whence she frowningly surveyed her new domain.

Trooper did not join us.  A short trip down to the basement discovered him under the stair, which didn’t seem alarming, so we left him to it, and retired.

He and Belle both joined us in bed sometime during the night, and Scrabble checked in a couple times.  Sprite was not in evidence.  This morning, we found out why.

Short form is that she had found an ingress from the Goblin Kingdom in! our! basement!  Behind! the! chimney! And! the! water! heater! And. . .AND?

She’d gotten stuck.

Steve and I (by which I of course mean Steve) took down a plywood wall in the new house today instead of unpacking, and then we gave the valiant princess a bath to get (some) of the ashes out of her fur.  She is now resting in what has become known as The Boy’s Bathroom, and we hope she’ll be feeling more the thing tomorrow.

In the meantime, we placed a call to our former neighbor, a contractor, and he will be walling off the road to the Goblin Kingdom, and also the chimney and the water heater.  A paw-proof door will be involved.

Promoting home improvements already.  What workers these cats are!

Mother told me, yes, she told me, I’d meet girls like you

So, of course Monday was Belle’s birthday.  Her eighth birthday, so you see that she is, indeed, a Cat of Substance.  Festivities were scheduled, and everyone made merry, but not too merry, as it would have been a terrible thing indeed to wake the Birthday Girl.

The new remote starter has been installed in the car, and has already been useful, so that.

And!  Steve and I have discovered that Fifth of Five is rather more broken than we had thought, which would be why it just lies there, like a unrisen lump of dough, no matter how much we poke at it.  And this means that — we need to start over.  This is not a step that we take lightly, and it’s certainly not the news I wanted to take to Madame, but sometimes, there are no fixes.  So, we’re taking a small breather, and wading in again.

In other news, Maine is melting.  It was 60 degrees today, on February 21, and the streets ran with mud.  Tomorrow, it will be cooler, and again on Friday, with the difference being that Friday, it will rain.

I think winter may be over.

Here’s a photo from Belle’s Birthday Festivities:

Today’s blog post title brought to you by Cheap Trick, “Surrender.”  Here’s your link.

 

Oh, I’m in love with the janitor’s boy; and the janitor’s boy loves me

So, it’s been an exciting couple of days here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

Yesterday, of course, was Sprite’s visit to the vet; always an energizing time.  Sprite had previously been able to call in enough bad weather to twice call for a cancellation of this annual event, but yesterday, her luck ran out.  She was outfitted in her harness and glittery leash, and her ladybug-print bib and off we went.  After a first, obligatory shout-out to the neighborhood that she was being kidnapped, and a few energetic curses as we started up, she settled down on my lap, and seemed to resign herself to her fate.  Steve had turned on the classic rock station — Sprite being partial to classic rock — and that seemed to soothe her somewhat.

The vet pronounced her in good health, and good fur, delivered the required shots and home we came, where Sprite retired to the so-called “medium dog bed” under Steve’s desk for a long and restorative nap.

This morning, she’s still a little subdued, and, after a mouthful of breakfast, has again retired under Steve’s desk for another nap.

I did get together the paperwork, and mailed my check and registration form to the National Carousel Association’s annual convention.  I also tried to call the convention hotel to reserve a room, the information in the packet being that rooms are limited and go fast — well, there was no try about it — I did call, as instructed.  Predictably, all operators were busy, and I spent about eight minutes on hold, listening to the robot telling me that I really could do all necessary business on the website or through the Marriott app.  I held on, though, and finally got a click, and the tail end of an answering machine message which stated that it could not accept any more messages — whereupon, the call was disconnected.

Um, yeah.

So, I’ll try to call again today, though the Main Adventure on today’s schedule is for me to go down to Charlie’s Subaru and have them install a remote starter in the Forester.  This operation will take approximately 2 hours, so I guess I’ll have the courtesy van take me over to Barnes and Noble, which is far more entertaining than Charlie’s waiting room.

What else?  I’m sure there was — Oh.  There are two additional events in motion at the moment, which created much excitement for Steve and me. But!

I can’t talk about them yet.

Oh, but I can tell you that the Dyson — remember the Dyson? that had to be sent away via UPS for repair last Friday? — the Dyson, it says here, has been repaired and will be home today!

And if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.

Everybody have a good day.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by Nathalia Crane, “The Janitor’s Boy.”  Here’s a link.  Oh, and here’s another — from Natalie Merchant.

Today’s the big day

Today, December 15, is the eighth birthday of Kelimcoons Sooper Trooper. We usually call him Trooper, but for his birthday, he gets the Whole Formal, at least once.  Festivities are planned throughout the day.  The sun has obligingly come out, and is puddling nicely in the napping spots.  We also have a Flying Mouse Competition planned for later in the day, and a grooming session.  We will also have Jazz on Pandora.  Trooper is partial to Jazz.

Today, December 15, is also the day that “Block Party” (collaborative effort number 82 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) will be published to Baen.com, around noonish US Eastern Time.

We’ll obviously be very busy here with the Natal Day Festivities, so feel free to sing out when you see the story come up.

Here’s a picture of the Birthday Cat, wondering what all the fuss is about.

Oh, baby you’re the only thing in this whole world that’s pure and good and right

So, last night, just as we were going to bed, we had a bat invasion.  Followed a fun-filled 45 minutes while we convinced the coon cats that it was not their bat, but our bat; got Scrabble back from the Big Dark Outside, when she strolled while we were holding the door open for the bat to exit; and last but not least, I executed a net-throw that would have won applause in any gladiatorial display, and brought the bat down mid-flight, into the shopping bag that Steve was holding ready.

Yes, sometimes we really are that good.  The “net” by the way, was a mosquito net meant to be worn over a hat.  Here’s a picture.

The bat was taken outside and released, whereupon we went to bed, but the coon cats did not, choosing instead to prowl the house, looking for their bat.

Well.

As of this morning, Sleeping with the Enemy: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 22, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is available in paper from Amazon only.  Here’s your link.

I will be converting the rest of the chapbooks as I have time and energy.  Nothing like a firm schedule, am I right?

As of this writing, in addition to Sleeping. . .  Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23and Due Diligence: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 24 are also available in digital and paper editions.

And, now, having goofed off much of the morning; it’s time to go to work.

See you on the flip-side.

Today’s blog post title brought to you by — of course! — Meatloaf, “Bat out of Hell.”  Here’s your link.

The Power of Purr

Today, with the exception of needing to go to the doctor for a follow-up exam this afternoon, is a Work Day, and I will be shutting down the internets very soon.
 
I do want to mention, for the people who are here for the cats…the marvelous healing power of purrs.
 
At the ER Monday night, I was given a shot of high-test ibuprofen, and given a muscle-relaxant in pill form to take before I went to bed. In theory, this was to help me sleep through the night.
 
In fact, it helped me sleep for about four hours, when the pain woke me again and I lay in bed counting the hours until CVS opened and I — well, actually, Steve — could go into town and get the prescriptions filled. I twisted and turned and couldn’t find any position that provided relief — for an hour or so by the clock on the ceiling.
 
About 4 am, I decided that, if I started walking, I could be in Waterville when CVS opened, Belle jumped up to the foot of the bed, STOMPED up until she was next to me, sat down and HUFFED. It really was very clearly, “What on earth is the matter with you, stupid kitten?” — and she started to purr.
 
“It won’t work,” I told her. Whereupon she blinked at me, threw herself against my chest (I was laying on my side) and brought up the Big, Deep, Rough purrs from ‘way down at the bottom of the Purr Box. I closed my eyes, still convinced that it wasn’t going to work. . .
 
And woke up at 9 am with my back hurting, but somewhat less.
 
The rest of Tuesday was spent with heating pad on/heating pad off, listening to Pandora and dozing. Trooper took day-shift, with Sprite filling in for necessary breaks. Yesterday, all was very nearly back to normal, though Trooper and Belle still hung close, and today, as previously suggested is a work day.
 
As I type, Belle is in the wooden basket on my desk, and Trooper is sitting next to the keyboard, purring and aiming head-butts at my chin.
 
Everybody have a good day.