Category Archives: Personal

20240701

[As usual, three weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

And the steroids worked for a time, but failed and my arms are covered with rash. Trying to identify whatever I might be suddenly allergic to, and making some hefty changes in diet, just in case. At least it doesn’t itch too much. Can control. And going to the doctor again in a bit to see what they say.

Writing continues, but things have been difficult. Crossed 26k in the novel this morning. Past halfway, but not really sure where. This one might run short, but that’s fine, as it sets up the next one by exploring the why behind the actions of the various players. And where they go from here, as the scope of the Red Branch’s battles with the Werewolf Legion grow global in scale.

Plus, I have several other story ideas written down to expand into at a later date.

Hoping to finish Silver Eagle sometime next week. Then on to some space opera, but not sure which/what just yet. Got ideas for Javier. And Uly. And Heather. All of which I need to write.

Having options lets me explore instead of locking me into a spot. Sometimes you need that, especially when shit’s just not firing on all cylinders.

Like today.

Think I’ve said enough. Catch you next week.

And the next Scattered Tribes story will be going out Tuesday or Wednesday. Watch your inbox.

shade and sweet water

b

West of the Mountains, WA

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Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published three weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240506

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Ye Gads, what a weekend.

Drove down to Portland to see Fabulous Publisher Babe™ and give her some help with our niece (one month out from brain surgery and doing much better). It was also the niece’s birthday yesterday, so cake and quiet party.

Got up this morning and drove back to Seattle. And did all the things around here that needed doing as soon as I walked in the door. Watering plants in her house. Hydroponics. Refill the bird feeders. Get ready for a busy day tomorrow. And Wednesday. Fuck only knows what Thursday has planned, but that’s out far enough I can breathe.

LOTS of rain on the way home. Several errands between Tacoma and the house. Took five hours to finally get here.

Kinda tired. Had some coffee after I got milk at the grocery. Sun just came out here. Apple tree looks amazing (pic). Figs and grapes starting to bud. Pears and cherries bloomed two weeks ago. Looks like a lot of apples this fall. If you like fresh fruit, mark your calendar and remind me in August so you can come out and pic some. Fuji on the left. Honeycrisp on the right.

Corsac Fox percolating along nicely. Just shy of 66k words on an 80k target, so right on track. Except that 6 cliffhangars into 7 as one LONG story, so I need to write 7 over the summer.

Got two projects on my immediate next list, but not sure which I’ll pursue. Both SF. One heavy into romance tropes, but not Romance™. The other is the actual project that I think I shared with some of you several years ago, called Cloning Blues. It bubbled up to the top of my mind and wants to be written. I have another week to worry, so we’ll see. Probably about this time next week, matter of fact.

Gotta see what writer brain wants when we get there. And what is the inverse flip of what I’ve been doing to keep things sharp. Light/Dark. Fast/Slow. Opera/Adventure. SF/Thriller. Something. The key is always going back and forth so I don’t fall into a rut.

This one feels like Old/New, because both of the projects are entirely fresh, rather than Book N in some series, which is what I have been doing lately.

Summer’s coming. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ should be home in a couple more weeks, then plans to bar the door and hibernate for a few weeks, possibly leaving her phone with me to answer so she goes days without talking.

I’m freaking exhausted, but counting down to hopeful normalcy. I am still likely to be a little to bitey for another month, but shit happens. Y’all been warned.

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Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240422

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Got up and been running all over creation for the last several hours. Breakfast. Bank (which is a haul because the closest branch to deposit a check is in Kent now), post office (voted), grocery store, gas.

Busy busy busy. But good. Gonna go north and study some weapon forms with Sensei Johnson tonight. Learning new things. Anti-Stodgy. Hopefully, you are doing the same.

Gotta keep the brain as flexible as the body. Listen to new music. Learn new things. Eat new foods.

Took a quick jaunt down to Portland to see my sweetie last week. She’s taking care of the niece (doing much better) but stressed. Couple days of me around helped. Will go back in another week or so. She’ll hopefully be home after that for the long haul.

Always knew that Jan 1 to about June 1 was going to be stressful. Mostly got past it. Didn’t bite a single person so far, which I will count as a win, all things considered. Writing is coming along, just much slower than normal. At 45k for the month, or about 25k behind my usual pace. Might make it to Pulp 1 (84k). Might not. Shit happens.

Mostly, it will show up in 2025, when I don’t necessarily have a full calendar of novels to deliver. Not sure what I will do instead, but I have several months to write more and maybe fill in gaps.

I have the product in the can, but it’s choppy. Two Giles. Two Heather. Two Shrike. A whole bunch of Book Ones that demand series behind them. At the same time, I have existing series I could extend. A few people have asked about more Last Stand. Ideas for more Marrakesh (it only pauses at 5. It doesn’t stop.) More Corsac Fox. Etc.

But next year might be messy. We’ll see. My job is to keep writing and keep my humor. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, as it were.

Corsac 6 is coming along nicely. Will pick it up as soon as I post this. Sitting at 23k. Target 80k. Plus this is the sixth of seven in Block One, and I am slipping in foreshadowing of how 6 and 7 will flow, then come to a resting point. Got major plans, but there will be a gap of several years in between (years for Uly and Dan, not you).

Dunno what I write after that. Been researching early jet aircraft again, so there might be the next Red Branch on deck. Those are fun because 1949 was a year of ferment, when everyone was inventing the technology of the future, and jets went from toys to war machines. And there are so many cool designs to work with, because nobody really understood the best way to do things, so they were trying lots of things to see which worked best. Faster, higher, farther, except for the part where some idiot decided that the best way for two jets to dogfight involved getting a running start at one another, and performing a jousting pass with unguided rockets. HIGHLY inaccurate, unguided rockets. 1% hit ratio style rockets.

Guided missiles would change everything, but not for another decade or two. There’s a line in the original Top Gun where the instructor discusses the shitty kill ratios in Vietnam, and the need to train pilots better. The problem was the FFAR and the AIM-4, both of which were shit. And those lovely designers removed guns from the planes. All guns.

Even today, there are guns, because you might need to dogfight. I expect that drones will end the manned combat aircraft in another 5-10 years, and I have no idea if the next generation of UAV will just be intelligent missiles, survey platforms, or flying guns. Probably one of each, plus two dozen other things as needs evolve. Ukraine is a tipping point in weapons technology, much like World War II was.

So I’m thinking about fast planes. Because why the hell not? If any of you are knowledgeable about early jets or aviation in general and want to read Red Branch 1, please yell. I know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be an expert. And I’m likely to start #2 soon.

But for now, more Uly and Dan.

Y’all have a lovely Monday.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240415

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Okay, slight break. Took some time off. Recovering.

Realized that, dating back to about July of last year, I have been the emotional rock upon which a number of my people had clung when their own lives got turned upside down. Best friend’s wife suddenly divorced him and I spent six months keeping him moving forward as he figured out how to rebuild his life. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ got cataract surgery last year, but fell into the 10% who needed follow-on work. Niece suffered a traumatic brain injury several years ago and never got it treated properly until it got BAD.

Niece had brain surgery on Wed the 3rd. Opened her head up with a can opener and dremeled off skull, then pulled the sheet tight and stapled it back in place. She was out of the hospital on Sunday and home. Recovering well.

Fabulous Publisher Babe™ got her other eye done on the 4th (three weeks after the first) and is in great shape. Down in Portland with the niece, basically sitting on her because stubborn doesn’t run in that family at all.

Had breakfast with my buddy this morning, and talked history and culture of martial arts over coffee. He likes to tell me that he doesn’t know anything, until you get him going and he starts deep-diving into the history of Okinawan Karate. And I mean DEEP.

Last week, I finally came home on Monday. My bucket was empty. I joked with a couple of people that I’d hit the fork in the road where my options were Depression, Exhaustion, and Xenocide. I picked exhaustion. Had nothing left to give. Canceled various things and just sat on the couch and read, because even writing took more brain that I had available.

Better today. Almost normal. Looking at when I might squeeze in a trip down to Portland, between some of the busy things I’ve got on my calendar as I try to put my life back together.

In 2022, I wrote 1.4 million words. In 2023, I intentionally slowed that down to 1.0, because I had other things I wanted to do and had to create space for them.

Right now, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hit 750,000 words this year. Sounds like a lot, until you realize that it’s half of what I was doing, and I still write at my normal pace. It’s having time to sit at the keyboard writing. Less of that this year. Makes me a little grumpy, but these are all things that needed to be done, and nobody else could hold the line while folks were dealing with issues.

Just a matter of identifying things that don’t get done this year. Maybe pushed off. Maybe removed from whatever list. At some point, I’m likely to break my publishing streak of having a novella or more monthly dating back to late 2017. Simply won’t have enough material in hand to do. Might write some shorter stuff instead. Or simply have a year of doing something every other month so I can catch up. Dunno. Don’t really care, because I keep publishing. Keep writing. Keep having fun.

Finished Science Officer #14 in there. Exile, following the Season Two scheme of letters. (You were paying attention and caught that, right? Alien, Buried, Captain, Dragoon, Exile…) H will be Homecoming, and finish off Season Two. And Exile starts an interior trilogy Zakhar describes as the War of the Pirate Clans, Volume Two. Hoping to be able to write F and G later this year, and maybe publish two next year.

Currently about 10k into Corsac Fox #6. #3 and #4 coming this summer (June and July and up for preorder now). Would like to write #6 and #7 and drop those three sequentially at some point to bring Uly and Dan to the end of Block One. Still planning Block Four, which will end when Uly is in his mid-60s. Probably about 30 novels all told, but I don’t really know. Four big blocks of emotion and lifespan, assuming people keep enjoying it.

Not every series works. I have fun writing them, or I wouldn’t, but the amount of personal abuse I suffered for writing Last Stand means that it will be a while before I circle back and touch that realm again. Plus, while it had it’s fans, not many. (Sales were pretty shitty across that series, which was a shame because…)

But it’s Monday. Been writing. Got this blog. Will throw out a newsletter later. Back on track. Chipmunks make lousy ninjas, but they’re in spring training right now. Horse poop here and there. Cherries and plums flowering. Everything else waking up.

We’ll get there.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240318

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

It’s always weird when I’m standing at my desk writing and see a deer walk by out the window behind the monitor. Just hanging out. Chilling. Moved over to the side yard and parked his butt under a tree for a few hours. Two of them, when I looked closer. Ignored me when I went out to do yard work. Ignored the Fabulous Publisher Babe™ when she went back and forth.

Chill.

Obviously, utterly terrified of us. Later, we had to go run errands, and one of the dorks was grazing in the yard. I came around the corner and said hi. He bolted all of about ten meters, then went back to eating.

Seriously.

Things getting more or less back to comfortable for now. Still in the middle of a six-month stretch where things are utterly unsettled, but most of that energy isn’t mine, and my job continues to be hanging cool like those deer.

I am, however, reminded of one of my favorite lines from “The Long Run” by Daniel Keys Moran.

If you can keep your calm while everyone around you is losing theirs, perhaps you have misunderstood the situation.” (roughly. Don’t want to flip through the book to locate it at this moment.)

Hoping I have not misunderstood. Being the rock against which storms break and tides are thwarted. It’s a living.

Mentioned that I was writing the next Science Officer. #14. Exile. Having fun. Crossed 20k this morning, with only a vague guess how long it is. Should probably go look at previous novels. (Don’t go anywhere.) Okay, somewhere between 55 and 65k, so I am likely around a third of the way done. Writer-brain understood that, because that’s about where I am at this moment in terms of story.

Will keep pounding away at that. Then circle back to Ollie 3 at some point. And get back to work on Ivette (needed to pause because I realized that I was missing critical component of plot and characters and needed to have those before I proceeded. Writer-brain, again.)

Reminder that Boundary Shock Quarterly has a shop now, where you can buy individual issues, as well as sign up for a subscription so you don’t ever miss one. Plus, subscriptions work out to $4 per instead of $5.

I have written six Beckett Fernsby stories so far, ranging from 25-32 only skipping 029 (First Contact) because I wrote the first Wardog Charlie story there. And will write more Charlie stories, because I have a pets issue coming up in a few years (I tend to run 2-3 years out in coming up with themes, then trying to write that far ahead).

Also working on Holden and Reilly some more. Need to keep pushing that out a ways to keep folks entertained. And possibly turn that into Vol 1 at some point, but I have a lot of ground to cover first. Sitting right about 90k, which feels like maybe 2/3-3/4 mark of the opening. Crazy big, but folks backing the Patreon at the $5 mark have been reading their adventures. Hope y’all been enjoying it.

Not a lot past that. Quiet week around here if I’m lucky. Spring, so a lot of yard work to do as things wake up. Still figuring I’ll end up selling the place in another 5-8 years and moving into the city someplace, where the walk score is at least 88. Start saving your nickles if the old farmstead appeals to you.

Chat more later.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240115

20240108

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Don’t wanna say it’s cold out here, but I’m pretty sure I just saw a moose migrating south for the winter.

Saturday, it was 9F and 50mph. FUCK.

Sunday was calm.

This morning was 22F and windy again.

Had a live tree come down across my neighbor’s driveway. Since it is an easement across my property, and she’s close to 90 these days, I was just about to go out Sunday morning after breakfast to chop it up when her son arrived. The Fabulous Publisher Babe™ had put my car at the bottom of the driveway, and I’d blocked it at the top, so he came up my side, wondering if someone had abandoned a car. Since he had his chainsaw (as usual) we chopped the tree up pretty quick, loaded the good wood in his truck to dry, and he spent the day up at the top of the hill fixing her well pump.

I spent the day goofing off.

Got a busy day today, but the words are flowing well, so we’re good. Holiday in the states, but the restaurant wasn’t crowded until I left. Clear roads, just cold and blustery.

Writing side is good. I’m not sure how close I am to finishing Maddox, but we’re at 34k right now and the first of two finishing movements is starting. Having read Trial By Leviathan, you finally know who Maddox Nevin is. He’s the star of the new A’Zedi Survey Corps series, along with a cast of fun new folks.

And I have more Marrakesh books planned. Plus more Survey Corps. This is the one where I asked if anyone wanted to be Tuckerized, and got a LOT of responses, so a goodly portion of the crew will recognize themselves when the book comes out. And if you wanted to, and didn’t send me back the form, you aren’t in. But you still could be. Gotta have your signature on the form first, because this one is so many people.

Nuff said?

Not sure what next project is. Probably some shorts, because I need to keep up there. More Holden. More Beckett. More Harper. More fun.

Got several series partially completed, so my goal in 2024 is to get those all wrapped up so they can come out in 2025+. Heather. Giles. Ollie. Peter Najjar. Flight Officer Brannon. Whoever else.

I’m likely to be writing less in 2024, having already slowed down from 2023. She wants to travel, and that will involve not taking computers a few places. And driving long distances, so there will be days or even weeks I don’t write. That will show up later when I don’t have as much to publish. Or end up writing serialized shorts as monthly things. Dunno. I think that’s 2026 at this point, so I have time to sort it out.

If you live somewhere other than Seattle, let me know, because we’ve got long trips planned to various places. Vegas, Mexico, and Minneapolis already, with more options as we think of things.

Past that, never mind the moose.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240108

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Oh, hell, there is a lot of snow in the forecast. Maybe a foot coming, without getting above freezing for several days. Not so bad if I lived in town or on flat terrain, but we’re out just past the first ridge of the Cascades going east. (Literally, when I drive to Enumclaw, there is a humpback of hill that separates the two roads for a good stretch.)

And I was talking to L* at the restaurant this morning about the various horizontal weather zones between Enumclaw and Ravensdale: Enumclaw. Birch. Veazie. Deep Lake. Cumberland. Bayne. Kanascat. Reaver. Ravensdale. Landsburg. Hobart. Etc.

I drive to Enumclaw enough to watch each zone hit. Winds and storms coming and going off the nearby mountains, which tend to be escarpments with sheer sides and valleys.

Got home safe. Going out later to do a bunch of errands. Might not leave again for a week after Wednesday, depending. Got better things to do than drive around with a bunch of yahoos who bought Jersey tractors and have no idea how to drive them.

She bought too much minivan, didn’t she?”

Writing. Took the weekend off. Not feeling well, so slept in a bunch both days instead of Tai Chi. Feeling better. Getting back into the swing.

If you remember the story I did called “The Deeps” I have dug that universe back out and have been taking notes on something in there, but well off to one side. At least I think so. Expanding the universe and the denizens. Mostly deep-diving (literally) into megapredators of the ocean, from sperm whales to sharks to rays to whatever. Things you might find if you go too deep into hyperspace.

Plus, the lighthouses. I was inspired to create this universe from something the Fabulous Publisher Babe™ wrote, about lighthouses visible in various aspects of hyperspace. My world isn’t hers, I don’t think, but got some of the same concepts to explore, and I am looking at exploring it with a series of short stories. At least for now. Stuff you folks will see before anyone else, obviously.

Speaking of short fiction, I started cataloging all my shorts, and realized that I have a shit-ton, so I have been organizing character collections. All the stories about one character, under one title. The Gunderson Case Files, Vol 2 is with first readers, because only you have read 9 and 10. Similarly, Eva & Nik, Trevor, Harper, and Pizzafarmer have all been assembled, so those will go out over the next however long.

And I have more. Maybe short collections (20-30k). Maybe actual collections, where I only ever wrote one story.

Peter Najjar, Flight Officer Brannon, and Oleg Chilikov all turned into Book Ones, so I have to write more of those before I publish them. Got a lot of books in the can to come out as we go. The Maddox Nevin novel I’m working on right now happens to be novel #100. Going to throw a Haydn Party when I finish #105, for all the obvious reasons.

Maddox is at 12k, so really towards the start. Been going slow because I’m feeling my way into a whole new everything. Derived from Operation Marrakesh, but also radically different in tone, location, setting, and concept, so I have to identify those differences and make sure everything is recognizable while changed.

Having fun with it.

Also got by comments from the editor on Thrill Ride Magazine and he’s loved all four of the stories I submitted for Year Two. There should be a kickstarter for them in February, followed by issue #5 (Sisters In Arms) in March. Then three issues where I think I have put Chace Haig stories. The first of those will come out in June, which is when I aim to drop the first Chace novel as well. Hopefully.

Not much past that. Need more coffee to get my Monday in gear.

How’s your 2024 holding up so far?

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240101

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Looked it up this morning and realized that we’ve been at this for four years and change now, with the first Patreon blog dated 20190923. Been blogging for much longer than that, but I prefer only having one spot to think in public. Less need to come up with something to talk about, when I can just dive into a review and a prognostication.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. I stayed home. Stayed in. Went to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late. Slept in a bit, then got up and got to work.

Not entirely with it, but that might be lack of second coffee. Or lack of giving a shit. Been working straight through instead of taking days off.

On the writing side, I finished Red Branch last week. 1949. Exiled Soviet pilot turned mercenary captain. Look back at the old Blackhawk comics, with some twists thrown in because I get to play with early jet era aircraft and global politics.

Started the first Maddox Nevin novel, spun off from the Marrakesh series (you’ll understand a lot better when you read Crossroads, which is #5 in that series.)

Over the weekend, I built a catalog, and realized just how many individual short stories and short fiction characters I have. Lots. Had been working on assembling Agent Kiesler’s Secret War for publication (first five stories, with a promise of more later). Also been working on the Gunderson Case Files, Volume 2. Realized I have a half-dozen more. Plus a lot of other things to push out at some point.

Expect a lot of new short fiction in collections in 2024. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ suggested a series name for them that I find attractive. And lets me just assemble them and not worry about it.

I have been doing the monthly Patreon for that many years. And more years of short fiction prior to that. Plus twenty-four issues of Boundary Shock Quarterly and seven issues of Blaze Ward Presents. Plus other things.

That adds up to a lot of fiction. Most of it stuff only a handful of you have ever read, if that. A few never published anywhere before they come out now.

Gonna fix that.

Additionally, I finished the year at 1,074,484 words, down from the previous average of 1.4 million for several years. Intentionally slowing down. In 2024, I might slow down even more, because we’re looking at several long trips. Camping/Driving type, plus a few international trips where we don’t take computers with us, so no writing. Or longhand, then scanning and putting through an OCR to see how much it can pick up.

No idea how many words I will hit this year. Fewer. Still have a lot of stuff in the can to publish over the next several, so not at risk of running out any time soon. And a lot of series where I need to complete them. Or add more to the end.

Enough to keep me going. Patreon readers will also see some of the new extensions as they go, though maybe not with the full 6-12 month lag. Dunno.

New Year. New goals. Don’t do the resolutions thing, because that’s not me. And I rearrange my life in June anyway.

But changes are coming. Good ones, I hope.

What do you have on tap?

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

She Refused To Use Her Words But Her Interpretive Dance Was Always On Point

That was how we always described her, because it fit.

Kiera The Cat.

Leah adopted her in March of 2006, and the shelter thought she was about a year old at that point, so we always celebrated her Gotcha Day as her birthday. I didn’t come along until 2013 (the second time around), so she knew the kitty way longer than me. (By now, I’ve outlasted her first two husbands, but they were dumbshits for letter her get away in the first place. In eight years, we’ll celebrate again.)

Cats talk to other cats at a frequency that humans can’t hear. Thus, when your cat makes a sound, they are talking to you. Many people don’t listen. Those that listen don’t pay attention.

We always tried to understand what she was telling us. And she was incredibly communicative.

Kiera was a rescue. Her first people had moved out of their apartment and left her behind (there is a special place in hell for folks like that), so she was always a little nervous about being abandoned again. Leah was a good person to adopt her, because she worked from home, so Kiera could always wander in and find her. Or sit where she could see her person.

When I came along, it took some time for her to warm to me, but I remember Leah telling me about Kiera hearing my truck outside. I couldn’t find a spot, so pulled by the house, then had to wander around the back of Capital Hill until I did.

Kiera had recognized the sound and hopped up on the back of the couch. She knew it was me. Eventually, she came to even like me, but initially I was just this guy.

Leah and I met the second time in 2013 and were engaged in 9 weeks. It worked. I had a place in the mountains when we got married in 2015, while she kept her house in town. I’d spend a night during the week sometimes, then we’d generally alternate weekends here and there, with kitty riding out in the carrier and going bumpety-bumpety-bump up my long gravel driveway.

Leah built herself a tiny house here in 2018 and moved permanently. Kitty would spend the week with her, then come over to the main house on Thursday so Leah had a night to herself, then both of them were over for the weekend and would head back on Monday morning.

So Kiera got used to me. Got used to the three of us sitting on the couch together.

She was not a lap kitty until 2018. (Mind you, a 13-year-old cat suddenly becoming a lap kitty.) She preferred Leah, but would settle for my lap on Thursday nights. Helped that I ran warmer.

And she communicated. If she yarped and hopped on the couch, she wanted lap. If she called from the towel, she would flop as soon as I got there for scritches. (She preferred my nails, for whatever reason.)

Her interpretive dance was always on point, because we’d talk to her and she would answer. Headbutts when she wanted head scritches from me. That’s a single finger, right in the middle of her forehead, while she moved around to the right spot.

When she was done, she would move her head slightly away and I stopped. Because I listened. If scratching her back, there would come a point where she would squirm away and put her paw on my hand, popping all of her claws out exactly enough to touch, but not scratching. Just telling you she was done.

The only time she ever drew blood, Kiera was jumping up onto the couch and I was wearing shorts. She missed her length, landed on me, and sank in to grab, because usually I had on jeans or maybe a blanket.

And she felt terrible later when she realized what she’d done, because she curled up next to me and purred a lot that night, to make it all better.

She talked. We listened.

This has been a hard week.

Monday night, she stopped eating. Threw up, then peed on the bed, but it wasn’t because she was angry. She was in pain. We didn’t know that. Laid in her butt warmer in pain and gasping, but settled after twenty minutes or so.

Tuesday morning, she missed the litter box (tried, but losing muscle control. Again, we found out later.) and was lethargic, so we took her to the vet. They ran some tests. 10.5 pound three weeks ago at her mid-year appointment had dropped to 8.3 pounds in two weeks. They gave her an IV and she perked right up for several hours. They were good hours.

Wednesday morning, she was in bad shape. Lethargic. Weak. Not eating. Not drinking. Doctor called in the morning with the blood work and her kidneys had shut down. Acute Renal Failure. Humans can do dialysis to stay alive. I’ve had friends on it for years.

It is not an option with a cat. All we could do was make her comfortable. Wednesday night, I took some pictures, because she seemed to be okay in her butt warmer. Not talking much, but not in pain.

Thursday morning when I get up, Leah lets me know that it won’t be long, so I got dressed and went over to spend a final morning with the kitty.

She’d lost control of her back legs at that point, so she was on her favorite towel. A few times, she tried to crawl away so she could die in privacy, but she’s an indoor kitty, so all she could to was turn her back on us, but eventually, she turned back.

We let her know that we were there, and it was okay for her to go. That she’d had a good life with lots of laps, and purrs, and treats, and bunnies, and squirrels, and those goofball chipmunks. That we loved her and were there for her. And that it was okay to leave, because I’d take care of Leah.

Kiera eventually rolled onto her side and we tried to get her to sleep, but she wanted to watch mom, so Leah and I changed places.

At one point, she tried to scratch her ear, but didn’t have control, so she could only thrash a little. But I listened. And reached over and scritched it for her. She settled. Gasped a few times.

And died.

And I’m a hot mess this morning, because I came out of the bathroom and she wasn’t there in her buttwarmer, gargoyling and waiting for her breakfast. That was our Friday routine. She could see into the bathroom, and had the entire process timed.

She knew. And knew she would be fed as soon as I got dressed. Always. First.

<long pause>

She was a good kitty.

Bestest kitty girl ever. We told her that we loved her. And spoiled her, though the minioning was always not up to a kitty’s standards. As if anything ever could be.

Because she talked, and we listened. Communicated. Understood.

And now she’s gone.

I built a cairn for her yesterday so she could always be where Leah could see her. Always see the birds she loved, and the critters hopping by.

Always be right there. Hopefully at peace, because she was an amazing friend.

And I miss her miaowing at me.

March 2005 – November 2023.

Kiera.

20231030

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Got a mild case of Mondays. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ came down with something and has the yucks, so I slept on the couch to let her have a quiet night. Need more coffee.

I will not say that I’m back, but I’m getting better. Wrote on Heather 2 last week, then took a side quest to write a silly story for the (way-distant) ‘First Contact’ issue of Boundary Shock Quarterly (out like a year and change).

Wardog Charlie and His Eminence Daniel, Duke of Los Angeles in Exile, make an appearance, though only across the parking lot of the burger stand. Had so much fun that I’m planning a small series of such tales. Just gotta figure out the overarching theme. And whether the Duke will actually send ninjas after me when he finds out.

Past that, I spent a lot of time thinking about the game for the first time in a while. Been mapbuilding as a driver to all other things, then history-building and letting that establish a context into which this setting will run.

D&D is basically an idealized 12th Century Anglo/French context, taking all of JRRT’s work from LotR and filing off enough serial numbers that his estate couldn’t actually sue them. (They reportedly tried.) Initially, I considered doing something East Asian (Fantasy China) in nature, and it has many of those elements to the rules and engine, but I settled on a geography vaguely like modern Poland, with swamps moved north and Plague Dragons running around.

Along the way, I occasionally encounter “things that need to be in the game” or “that’s a supplement” and I’m adding notes. Talking to a few artists about commissioning some basic line art to go in when it gets published. Probably grab Junior this week and actually build some characters and monsters and finally do some playtesting.

Was going to do it this summer, but the main gaming group disintegrated and we’ve only recently sort of put it back together. Still looking for 1-2 players. In person. Enumclaw, WA. 420 unwelcome (that was what broke it up before). If you know folks or are folks, reach out and we’ll have coffee.

Music: Got the first two Ward & Rogers songs up on the store. And English Paul has sent me a couple of versions of the latest instrumental track to review and comment on.

Backstory: I did a vocal solo in Junior High. Call it forty years ago. And about a year ago, the damned memory popped up and demanded I add it. So I found various versions, synthesized the lyrics I wanted (there are a LOT of versions) and we’ll release Skye when I can record final vocals (hopefully this week) and get everything produced.

Then, because Paul, he wants to lean in to something “sounding like” “Irish/Scottish/Celtic” music, without necessarily being the traditional folk, which tends to be a woman lamenting about a man that’s gone off to war and never coming back. Both of us are English by origin, so traditionalists will look down their noses at us, but that just makes the whole thing punker as far as I’m concerned, so I’m all in. Doing research on songs that we might record. Or write.

It’s nice when the mind kinda comes back, you know? Got time to actually do things. Think thinky thoughts.

Create, outside of the writing that is my livelihood. We’re never* going to get rich from the music (* – every time you hit publish, roll 10d6, target number 58.) but we have fun. It’s driven him to buy a violin and begin learning how to play. ANTI-STODGY!

Past that, end of the month and I’ve hit my word count, so I can goof off a bit today and tomorrow. Should be close to finishing Heather 2 by this time next week and moving on to…something. Not entirely sure. Don’t gotta know. Corsac Fox 5 maybe. Or more Holden and Riley.

Whatever, it will be fun. And that’s the difference. I’m having fun these days, instead of trudging and grinding.

Hope your Monday is a skip.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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