Today, sunny and 75˚F.

We had thunderstorms last night. Nothing severe, no tornadoes. It's nice falling asleep to the sound of thunder rolling back and forth between Red Mountain and Shades Mountain, rumbling through the valley.

“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
~ Marie Curie

Yeah, that quote might seem sorta random, but being who I am tonight, who I am likely to be for a long time to come, given we live in a time of plague and divisive ignorance, it seems less random the more I look at it. Your mileage may vary.

Aunt Beast

2:38 p.m. (Armadillidium vulgare, courtesy Spooky)
Cordon C3

Naked Horses

The high today was 75˚F.

I had a nice walk around the property late today, trying to rebuild this meatsack after thirteen months in quarantine. Thirteen months in this chair, at this keyboard, and little else. I was hoping we'd see some lizards today – skinks or anoles or maybe an invasive gecko – but no dice. Lots of birds though, including a certain mourning dove.

If you haven't seen Ricky Staub's Concrete Cowboy (Netflix), starring Idris Elba, you really owe it to yourself to take the time to do so. We saw it tonight, and it's just wonderful. I was pleased to see that the director drew from Philadelphia's Black cowboy community for the cast.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

5:56 p.m.

Normal Dogs (2)

Today we made it to 81˚F.

The end of my self isolation is in site. We are breaking down the grocery and mail quarantine areas of the house. And yet the smear that time has become seems to be getting smearier as we near the day that I can worry 90% less about one of us catching the foul bug. Some peculiar time dilation. The relativity of lockdown as it nears the event horizon. I don't fucking know. I just want the world back.

I know that's a lot to ask for.

But that's never stopped me before.

Later, Quarantaters,
Aunt Beast

6:41 p.m.
Cordon C3

No Sleep Demons (on and on and on)

Asleep at 1 a.m. Awake at 5:30 a.m. Up at 6:30. I've been like this for days.

Spooky made it to the Botanical Gardens today. I ought to have gone with her, but I didn't. I've got to get past this fear. At this point, it has been over almost two weeks since I got Shot 1 and my body ought to be 80% immune to COVID-19. It's time to rejoin the world.

I have begun reading Jeff VanderMeer's marvelous new novel, Hummingbird Salamander. Jeff is, hands down, my favorite living science fiction/weird fiction author, and if you have not yet read him, you need to fix that now. I'm also reading Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago. And, in non-fiction, Rüdiger Barth and Hauke Friederichs' The Last Winter of the Weimar Republic: The Rise of the Third Reich, Björn Kurtén and Elaine Anderson's classic Pleistocene Mammals of North America, and Schubert, Mead, and Graham's (eds) Ice Age Cave Faunas of North America. There was a time, long ago, I read one book at a time. There was a time I could read without Mr. Magoo glasses.

Anyway, here's an adorable little skink (probably Plestiodon inexpectatus), courtesy Spooky's camera:

2:12 p.m.

"...even if we're just dancing in the dark."

A beautiful, sunny spring day. We made it to 80˚F, when you factor in the heat index.

So, during the long silence, there were books. See the photo below. There was the new Dancy collection, Comes a Pale Rider (with the "Refugees" chapbook), and there was the hardback reprint of Alabaster, and there was The Tindalos Asset, and the ARC for the forthcoming The Variegated Alphabet. You can see them stacked up, below. Well, except for The Tindalos Asset, which I forgot to include, but you can see a photograph of me holding it in my December 31st entry. Even in what might be the most unproductive year of my 29+ year career, when I can still boast a stack of fucking books. Oh, and a bunch of my short story collections were released as audiobooks, and there are more of those in production, all available through Audible. You can hear Bronson Pinchot read "A Mountain Walked" (and others). Fucking Elliot Blitzer. How cool is that?

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

3:05 p.m.

Just a Monday

Sunny and warm today. We reached 78˚F.

The thing about going back to this journal, the inevitability of days when I simply have nothing to say here.

Black beans and rice and chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs for dinner. If there isn't a word for processed meat that is shaped to look like what it was in life, there ought to be.

Our annoying upstairs neighbor, whose girlfriend was a QAnon loon and Trumpite, is moving out and taking his noisy dogs with him. A truck with Motivated Movers emblazoned on the side came today to take all their crap away. And yeah, he's a Trumpite, too, but she's the one yanked her Facebook page down the day on the insurrection.


1:45 p.m.

Normal Dogs (1)

Really, it's a lot harder than it seems, coming back here day after day. That I did it from April 2005 until this past October, with very few gaps leaves me a bit in awe of my perseverance. And trying to remember the trick.

I'm trying to get a new story started, "I Could Not Shift My Shadow."

Watermelon Red Bull is very good, but peach Red Bull is better; it might be best.

During the lockdown, I have found myself worrying a great deal about the folks I left behind in New England – Sonya and Geoffrey and Spooky's parents and the people at Lovecraft Arts and Sciences and...others. We were supposed to visit this past September, and now we're planning to make the drive as soon as we're both fully vaccinated and we can take the time. But maybe as soon as Spooky's birthday in late June. Anyway, I miss you guys.

It's a beautiful spring evening here. The world is green again.

Oh, and Spooky put together a big wickerbomb of candy and silliness for Basketday (aka Easter). Someday, I'll tell you about the Sloth Poop.

The ACb-2/ACb-3 Pleistocene faunas I mentioned, this stuff well outside my Late Cretaceous wheelhouse (as they say), but it's become a secondary paleo' obsession. Microvertebrates from two different cave sites in North Alabama. Both are Rancholabrean and consist mostly of bats and rodents (all manner of rodents, from mice to squirrels, voles to porcupines), shrews, rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs, salamanders, fish (the caves occasionally flooded), and armadillos, along with fragments of larger animals, especially deer and carnivores.

Anyway, that's four days running. Go me.

Aunt Beast

1:34 p.m.

In the saddle again? Possibly?

It's a lot harder than I imagined it would be, getting the LJ working again as a going, day-to-day concern. I almost let it lay fallow too long, I think.

I have let me lay fallow too long.

If you're wondering what I have in the pipe with Subterranean Press (and that seems as relevant as anything), they will soon be releasing all seven of my primers collected in a single volume, titled The Variegated Alphabet and illustrated by the magnificent John Kenn Mortensen. Unfortunately for anyone reading this who has not preordered to book, it is now 100% sold out. Sorry. But there's also my next short-story collection in the pipe, Vile Affections, which I think will be out later this year. It will be illustrated by Vince Locke, with a cover by Ray Troll, and SubPress has not yet begun taking preorders for it, but I'll let you know when they do. Also, and I think it's okay for me to mention this, SubPress will be releasing a new edition of From Weird and Distant Shores, which was originally published in 2002. I have precious few details on that one so far. In fact, the contract has not yet been signed. And there's other stuff, but that's good for now, right?

Just before I got Shot 1 on March 27th, I calculated how much time I'd spent Outside since my self-isolation began on or about March 16th. The best I could come up with was ~20 hours all told in more than a year. And about 70% of that has consisted of visits to my doctor's office, which is only a couple of miles away. Other than that, there was a short trip to my mom's in Leeds on July 9th. I rarely step foot out the door. And now I have to turn that around and push back my fear of open space and people and the wide carnivorous sky and become a functional human being again.

During self-isolation, I have lost more than twenty pounds, and I was skinny to start with.

But Kathryn and I had saved a lot of money on food, because we cut out all takeout and fast food and deli and whatever, any food prepared by anyone but us. I really, really, really miss fast food.

My work on Winifred the tylosaur continues, along with work on Cretaceous turtles and a couple of Pleistocene cave faunas, thanks to Jun at McWane making sure I had everything (mostly) that I've need brought to me at home.

You know, that's enough for now. Here, have a squirrel.

Aunt Beast

4:07 p.m. (by Spooky)
Cordon C3

Two in a Row!

And, just so you know, the last time I did two LJ entries on two consecutive days was October 18th and 19th.

What happened? I went into COVID-19 self-isolation about March 15th and within a couple of months, between one thing and the other, I wasn't writing. Sirenia Digest, my bread and butter, stopped going out. Indeed, though I managed some editing, I wrote virtually nothing worth mentioning until December 15th, when I began a story titled "The Woman Who Blew Down Houses." And suddenly I was writing again. In three months I wrote a total of eight stories, all for Sirenia Digest, and new and back issues began to go out to subscribers. Between mid December and March 14th, I wrote:

"Untitled 45" (Sirenia Digest #175, August 2021)
"L'hommes et la femme terribles" (Sirenia Digest #176, September 2020)
"Untitled Psychiatrist #5" (Sirenia Digest #177, October 2020)
"The Woman Who Blew Down Houses" (Sirenia Digest #178, November 2020)
"Threnody for Those Who Die December Deaths" (Sirenia Digest #179, December 2020)
"Blackwater" (Sirenia Digest #180, January 2021)
"Heart-Shaped Hole" (Sirenia Digest #181, February 2021)
"The Jar" (Sirenia Digest #182, March 2021)

April (#183) and July (#174) should be along soonish.

And I've been working with Subterranean Press on new books and with Blackstone Publishing, who are producing all my audiobooks (which are really piling up), and there's been a LOT of paleontology, but...I think I'm gonna save that stuff for tomorrow.

I am going to talk some about my experience during the year of lockdown (and, for me, it was near absolute), but I'm going to try to avoid attempting any sort of lengthy recap of all that missed time. Like much of the world, I lost a year, and, also like much of the work and like many authors, a lamentably large portion of that lost year was entirely unproductive. There's not much to say about it.

On Saturday, March 27th, Spooky and I got Shot 1 of the Pfizer vaccine, at the Wal-greens on Clairmont Avenue, which was my first trip over the mountain into Birmingham proper since May. I get Shot 2 on April 24th.

I've been reading a lot (more on this later), and we've been watching a lot of television, of course. Right now, we're working our way through Superstore (NBC), which is generally fucking hilarious. The last season of Vikings was very good. We've been watching Debris, from J.H. Wyman, who was a writer and co-executive producer on the brilliant and much-missed Fringe, but, so far, what made Fringe great is absent from Debris.

I got back to work at McWane Science Center on (or about) May 10th, once I am fully vaccinated and immune, after an absence of about 14 months. That's been one of the hardest parts of all this.

I have wasted gigantic junks of the lockdown in the time-such of Second Life. But thank you, Chris, all at the same.

And that's enough for now. It's full-on spring here and Joe Biden is President, so have a fucking flower.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

4:23 p.m. (by Spooky)

Let's Try This Again

The journal is coming back, really. The long months of utter and complete inactivity have passed, and there are things to say again. I just have to remember how to get back on the horse, but, that said, all you get today is an underexposed photograph.

Once More,
Aunt Beast

9:31 a.m.