Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Blogging Challenge: Staycations

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews. I have not been following along as reliably this year as I did in previous years, but I'm still participating! Mostly.)

Prompt: How I Feel About Staycations

I love them. 

Seriously, travel can be stressful and expensive and exhausting. Don't get me wrong, it can also be enormous fun. But a staycation is low-key, easy, actually cheaper in some ways than going to work[1], and frequently feels like the only time I really get caught up on things around the house. Sometimes they feel like the only time I get caught up on sleep, too. 

On the other hand, the last two times I've tried to take a few days off for my birthday (a short but very definite staycation) we've had ice storms and the boys have been stuck at home.[2] That part didn't go so well; "quiet and relaxed" for me generally means having the house more or less to myself.

But as a general thing? I love staycations. I would be the perfect retiree. I would literally just, y'know, start cleaning and getting back to my hobbies.

[1] That would be less true if I packed lunch more often. 

[2] Not that they saw it that way. Not at all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Driving Needs, Part One

"We're going into town," Antoinette said, and Elyssa nodded in a way that made Chris think they'd talked this over in advance.

Chris shrugged. "Okay."

"And," Antoinette added, "you're driving us."

Chris frowned at her, puzzled. "You don't know how to drive?"

"I actually do," Antoinette told him, "but I also know you grumble every time you have a lesson on it. You need to get comfortable with it."

"The fact that I despise automobiles--" Chris stopped, then swallowed and started again. "Fine. I'll drive us."

"Really?" Antoinette asked. "No objections?"

Chris didn't answer; he just turned to look at the car. It was a Honda Accord, a gray sedan, parked not far from the gate. The Ministry didn't forbid its Registered Outsiders from interacting with the human world, it just made very sure that they knew how to pass in mundane society first. Driving a car was part of that.

Antoinette tapped his shoulder and handed him the keys, and he touched the fob to unlock the doors. They climbed inside, Antoinette in the passenger seat and Elyssa in the back, and Chris waited until they were all buckled in before he started the car. "Okay," he said. "Where to?"

"Downtown Tulsa. I'll give you something more specific when we get there."

Chris resisted the urge to shrug again, and instead put the car in gear and drove them out through the gates.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Lithos: At The Square

"I can't believe you put a sleep spell on your bed," Kalkin said, for about the seventh time. They were walking back to the small market square where the tinkers had set their wagons. Once Lithos had finished his lecture, it hadn't been all that hard to convince the other to cut the kobold loose.

"You didn't have to find out," Lithos reminded him. "Now most of my siblings think we're sleeping together."

"Not even if you were a kobold," Kalkin assured him."Not even if you were an incredibly sexy female kobold."

"Kalkin!" a voice called from overhead. Lithos glanced up as Syscylla circled once and then descended, folding her wings behind her as she landed. "Where have you--?" She glanced at Lithos. "Oh. You."

Lithos nodded. "Yes. Oh, me." He actually kind of liked Syscylla; she was Kalkin's sister, younger by about a year, and where her brother's draconic bloodline had manifested as sorcery, hers had manifested as leathery red wings. 

Wings were cool. He wouldn't mind having wings. 

Scylla turned her attention to Kalkin. "Look, whatever you've been getting up to with the goblin--"

Kalkin tried to interrupt, but Scylla kept talking. 

"--you need to get back to the families now. Mom's been worried sick that you'd been arrested and the peacekeepers were about to descend on us, and Dad's been insisting that you were probably right there in the room and laughing your invisible ass off. They had a whole big fight about it. Nobody asked me, of course." She looked at Lithos again. "Um. You should go back to your den now. Pretty sure Uncle Padirog and most of the rest of the elders are going to try to murder you if my idiot brother tries to bring his goblin boyfriend back home."

"We're not--" said Kalkin, just as Lithos protested, "It's not a den--" They stopped, looked at each other, and Lithos finished with, "It's a perfectly respectable inn. And I'm officially a dwarven citizen now." 

"...And we are not," Kalkin added, "any sort of item."

Syscylla frowned doubtfully. "If you say so. You still need to get back to the wagons. And you need to get back to your perfectly respectable inn."

Lithos eyed Kalkin for a long moment. "Find another hobby," he suggested, and turned to start walking away. 

"What," asked Kalkin, "and miss out on all this fun?"

Friday, May 17, 2024

Music: Thunder Rolls

Okay, so the song was originally by Garth Brooks, and you probably remember it. But when I added it to the Country Music Road Trip mix, it turned out that... it wasn't the whole song. There's a whole verse missing. The dude comes home, she smells strange perfume on her husband and knows that he's having an affair, and... 

...nothing. The song winds down, and that's it. 

This was deeply weird to me, because I distinctly recall her shooting the cheating sonofabitch. So I started pulling up versions of it on YouTube and... nope, it's just not there. I was seriously starting to think I'd imagined it. 

...And then somebody pulled the lyrics for me, and yeah: that really was part of the song. I wasn't hallucinating, and it wasn't some sort of weird Berenstain Bears split-multiverse event. Armed with that knowledge, I went looking again, and found this version, which I rather like:

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Debriefing, part one

"Ah, Chris." Magus Frummelt looked up as Chris entered his office. "Do close the door, if you please."

Chris closed the door, then turned back and waited until the magus motioned for him to take a seat. He was learning. 

"How would you say that your last assignment went?"

Chris settled into the lone chair in front of Magus Frummelt's desk and considered that for a long moment. "Successful, obviously. The young lady Carterhaugh is back with the Hargraves, and no harm appears to have been done. There were things that we could have done better, but for a first outing in dealing with one of the old families and a venture into the Grey..." He hesitated. "Well, it wasn't a disaster."

"No," said magus Frummelt. "It wasn't. Antoinette and Elyssa conducted themselves quite well, and Peter and Morrigan... well, they aren't your concern except perhaps in how they report your actions." He paused, studying Chris for a long moment; Chris, curious, returned his study. "RO Morrigan recommended that we make more use of magus Gillespie and her team, and magus Saldivar largely supports that recommendation. They both think that you're more... assertive than is strictly proper for one of our ROs, but neither of them seemed to think it was a problem."

"Assertive, sir?" Chris thought he had a pretty good idea of what they meant -- that he was stubborn and prone to trying to do what he thought was best -- but this was an area where he didn't trust his own impressions of the situation. 

"Materfamilias Amelie Hargrave made sure to express her concerns that you didn't 'know your place', though she didn't specify any particular events or circumstances. Coming from her, that sort of complaint could mean anything..." Frummelt put on an inquisitive expression and raised his eyes to meet Chris'.

"I'm not sure, Sir," Chris told him, which was honest enough. "She seemed worried that I might be intending to form some sort of attachment with Tammy Carterhaugh; she also said I wasn't afraid of her the way I should be."

Magus Frummelt chuckled. "She would think that, and by her lights she'd be right. Still, you must have done something right, or I'd be looking at a much more specific complaint-- or a demand for action. The old families need to be handled very carefully, even -- or especially -- when they're wrong."

"I do know how to shut up, Sir."

Frummelt's smile widened, so that had been a good answer. "That's an excellent skill, and I recommend you cultivate it around the families. Let your magus do the talking; even if she's uncouth, it'll be more acceptable to them."

"I understand," Chris told him. He really did; it was just that he was still, despite his best efforts, having trouble adjusting from what he'd been to what he was now. "Antoinette and I talked about it too, and she plans to start us training to work as a group. It's her decision, of course, but for whatever it's worth I support it."

"She mentioned that, and I approved it." Magus Frummelt sat back and relaxed. "You'll see it reflected in your training schedule in the coming weeks. I take it you aren't looking for a transfer, or unwilling to continue venturing into the Grey as needed?"

"That's correct, Sir."

"Then that's all for now. If you have any questions or concerns, you know where to find me."

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Lithos: The Rival in Repose

"Um... Lithos?" asked James, stepping aside so he could see. "Why is there a kobold sleeping in your blankets? Is there something you need to tell us?"

"Darkstabber's sacred vulva," Lithos muttered, and Archibald shot him a look. "That little shit."

Lithos wasn't usually so vehement, so he immediately had the others' attention. "You know them?" Whisper signed. 

Lithos sighed and then nodded. "Lissorkalkin. Kalkin for short. He's... His family are tinkers. They come into town in their wagon train maybe once a year, looking for work. Kalkin's different, though. He's got dragon blood. He's a sorcerer." Lithos sighed again. "And he's been trying to prove that he's better at magic than I am ever since we met."

"Okay," said Amergin slowly, "but why's he sleeping in your bed?"

"He was probably trying to steal my grimoire," Lithos admitted. "Like I said, he wants to prove that his way of doing magic is better than mine. That's one of his arguments: he doesn't need a book to do magic."

"Okay," said Archibald, even more slowly, "but why is he sleeping in your bed?"

"Because I trapped it," Lithos admitted. 

"You what?" asked James, looking at him. 

"Magical trap," said Lithos. "I'm a wizard, I can do that. Master Flyleaf showed me how." 

Whisper was scribbling on his slate, and they all waited for him to finish. When he turned it to Lithos, it said: You can set magical traps? 

"Sure," said Lithos. "It's not hard. Kalkin could too, except his magics don't include the right spells. Which is why my way of doing magic is better."

"Should we report him?" asked Archibald. 

"Or kill him?" asked James. She was smiling the sort of calm, imperturbable smile that had always made their classmates take a long, involuntary step back.

Lithos shook his head. "No, we'll do something worse."

Amergin, almost reluctantly, asked: "...Worse?"

Lithos nodded. "Yeah. Muzzle him and tie his hands. Then I'm going to make him listen while I explain how much his sorcery sucks compared to my wizardry. Dumbass thought I'd keep my grimoire hidden in my bed, and that he could sneak in here invisibly and take it. Instead, he gets to listen to me lecture."

"Diabolical," Archibald said, in a tone of soft awe.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Writer's Block

So yeah, writing -- even low-stakes writing for the Blog o' Doom here -- hasn't been going well lately. This is not a huge surprise; I've mentioned before that May is basically the worst month of the year for me. Sometime I cope with that by writing more, but I've been trying to take a sensible, low-stress approach this year and...

...Well, frankly I think I'm just extremely burned-out. I think I have been for some time, and when I finally made a real effort to slow down it all caught up with me. And there's not much to be done about that except keep trying to take things slow and sensible until I get back to feeling like myself. 

Things are going to be a little slow around here, is what I'm saying. They should get better -- I should get better -- once we're done with May, but in the meantime I'm just going to try to get through without burning out completely the way I usually do. 

See you on the other side, friends.