Western Interior Seaway

"You told me I was like the Dead Sea."

Another sunny, warm day. Currently, it's 65˚F.

Tomorrow we get rain.

Today was McWane, and I spent almost all of the six hours I was there working on that left quadrate bone of Winifred's. And on the subject of whether or not "Toby" and Winifred (RMM 3391) really, truly are the same specimen (see "A Toby No More," 9 October 2019), today I was able to conclusively settle the problem. The proverbial "smoking gun" has been provided. Going through the prepped and cataloged material from Winifred I found a broken section of a thoracic rib that fit perfectly with a section of broken thoracic material from the "Toby" material. I mean, it was a perfect fit. And there's only one explanation – the mosasaur skull excavated in 1990 and 1991 actually belongs to Winifred. So, in 2019, yes, I am indeed working on a mosasaur I discovered, originally, on March 14, 1983. Sometimes, it's good to be right. Winifred has a head.

I was going to say more about mine and Kathryn's collecting in the chalk this week, but I'm really too tired to say much. Kathryn's really a good fossil hunter, it turns out, which should come as no surprise, given her beach-combing skills. We were in a gully hardly five minutes when she's sound a section of mosasaur tail, and then she found a fish, and then a jaw from fairly rare species of fish, and then a baby mosasaur neck vertebra. You get the picture. In a couple of hours we collected the following taxa from an area no more than 12"x12": Clidastes sp., Cryptodira incertae sedis (two separate finds, a fragmentary skull and a limb bone), Enchodus spp., Anomoeodus sp., Cretolamna sp., Scapanorhynchus sp. Cretoxyrhina sp. along with various invertebrates and as-yet-unidentified vertebrates. This was a locality I'd not collected since about 1999, when I found part of a fossil bird skeleton there (?Ichthyornithes).

Today was Carl Sagan Day. The 9th would have been his 85th birthday.

Anyway, I'm heading back to McWane tomorrow afternoon, but first I'm going to try and finish writing the introduction for Comes a Pale Rider (and maybe have time to begin putting the ms. together). I've seen initial sketches for Ted Naifeh's interior artwork for the new stories, and they look great.

Later TyloTaters,

3:21 p.m.
Western Interior Seaway

"...so I will die with the secrets of the sea."

Utter exhaustion right now. It was a bright and sunny day, and currently the temperature is 62˚F.

Last night, my mother's older sister died. back on October 28th when I was talking about dark days, it was her illness I was alluding to. As I said on Facebook this morning:

Last night, my Aunt Joanne Cage (née Ramey) died. When I was a kid, I sorta thought she was the smartest woman in the world. She read voraciously and made me unashamed of my bookishness. She was born in 1934. I loved her dearly, and now she is at rest.

I have McWane tomorrow, but much of the rest of the week will be spent in Leeds and Dunnavant with my family.

Kathryn and I have spent the last two days collecting Upper Cretaceous fossils from the chalk in western Alabama. And I'll say more about that later. I got too much sun today (yesterday was overcast), and mostly I just want to lie down and shut my eyes. A chalk gully on November day is almost bright and hot enough to sear your eyes shut. And yet they're only about one-sixth as unpleasant in November as they are in July. We did discover, though, that Kathryn's butt has magical fossil-bone locating abilities, though they seem to work best on cloudy days.


2:12 p.m. (yesterday)

Blackholes and Revelations

A little warmer today and sunny again. Currently, it's 60˚F.

I spent an hour this morning pulling Sirenia Digest #165 together, and it has now gone out to subscribers. After the digest was done, I spent over three hours working on an introduction for Comes a Pale Horse, which was not an unpleasant endeavor until I reached the part about Dark Horse. I must have spent a thousand words trying to document and summarize that soul-destroying shitshow (late 2010-mid 2015), and I finally made myself step away from it, because my mood had grown so dark. All in all, I did about 1,770 words on the introduction. There's probably only another 500 words to go to finish it.

It was a long day.

After work, Kathryn and I watched two episodes of American Experience, "The Feud" and "The Island Murder." And then there was Chinese takeout.


1:28 p.m.

Howard Hughes and the League of Proofreaders

Cold today, but marvelously sunny. Currently, it's 59˚F.

On this day in 2004, Spooky and I decided to remain permanently on Daylight Savings Time, because I do better with longer days. We originally dubbed it "Caitlín Stabilizing Time" but have since adopted the phrase "Caitlín Standard Time." That was fifteen years ago! It was a wise decision, and I don't make too many of those.

Today, Spooky read aloud to me all of "Refugees," which took her about two hours. Then I typed in the "last" round of corrections, which took another hour, and then I mailed it away to Subterranean Press. That's three very long Dancy short stories (or *cough cough* "novelettes") since sometime in May, and, as I told Bill Schafer today, that's really one Dancy story too many in so short a time. I'm putting her away now for the foreseeable future.

Subscribers to Sirenia Digest, please note that #165 (October 2019) will be late, but the good news it will include "Refugees." I'll put the issue together tomorrow and send it to Gordon to be PDF'd, and then Spooky will get it out to you ASAP.

Today, there was email with France (foreign rights on a short story), Italy (an Italian-language collection), and Russia (the interview, to which I have agreed to do, and this will, by the way, be my first interview since January 2018). After the writing and the email, I read "Re-characterization of Tylosaurus nepaeolicus (Cope, 1974) and Tylosaurus kansasensis Everhart, 2005: Ontogeny or sympatry?" and "Allometric growth in the skull of Tylosaurus proriger (Squamata: Mosasauridae) and its taxonomic implications."

Before dinner, Spooky and I watched an episode of Nova, "Rise of the Mammals," and an episode of American Experience, "The Swamp."

That was today. And I leave you with a photograph of our belated pumpkin.


5:32 p.m. (yesterday)

Lydia and the Surrogate Effington

A cold day, after a frigid night. When I got up at 7 a.m., we were in the low thirties ˚F, with the windchill in the twenties. A few weeks ago, we were still dealing with a month-long heatwave. Tonight, we have another freeze warning, and it's currently 39˚F.

Today, I spent another two hours on the line edits for "Refugees," and I did at least manage to finish that. Tomorrow, we read through the whole story. We were going to do that today, but Spooky was still icky from the migraine, and I need to hear it. Also, email to Merrilee, Subterranean Press, and Borderlands Press. And I think I'm about to agree to give a Russian website an interview. It will be my first interview in a long time.

I read a paper on tylosaurine ontogeny.

Spooky carved our jack-o'-lantern this afternoon, because it's better late than never.

And here it is November.

Later Taters,

12:29 p.m.
Western Interior Seaway

Boo ( ! ) 2019

The cold arrived today, on the heels of heavy rain. The temperature fell all day, and it's now 37˚F, with the windchill at 33˚F. We have a freeze warning.

After only four hours sleep last night, I spent the day at McWane and managed to finish with that cervical vertebra and get started (and make some good progress) on the right quadrate of Winifred*/"Toby". Quadrates are much more exciting than are cervical vertebrae. Take my word for it. I needed another tylosaurine quadrate for reference today, and I tracked down one in the McWane collection that was found by Jada waaaaay back in March 1983**, during one of the Explorer Post 272 trips. In fact, it was found on the very same day as and not far from the same set of chalk gullies where we found Winifred. These reunions just will not stop feeling weird and bittersweet.

I came home to discover the postman had delivered my contributor's copies of The Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

We didn't make it out to Leeds, because Kathryn's migraine had her not wanting to drive after dark. So, we stayed in and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), the last episode of Season Two of Dark, and then the original Ghostbusters (1984), after an LJ entry by setsuled put me in the mood for it. We've had worse Halloweens.

Later Spooktaters,

4:05 p.m.

* RMM 3391
** RMM 1574
Western Interior Seaway

Just squeaking through....

A very, very rainy day, but warm. Cold is coming, though. Currently, it's 72˚F.

I managed to get in four hours at McWane today. But I couldn't focus on the work, and headed home early. I'm going back tomorrow, and then we're heading out to Leeds for Halloween chili at Mom's, and on Friday I am going to manage, somehow, to finally be done with "Refugees." I have spent much too long on this damn story.

Mostly today I worked on that same cervical vertebra (there's a photo, below).

I forgot to mention seeing Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes in Craig Brewer's very funny and very (oddly) charming Dolemite Is My Name (2019), and that was days and days ago.


1:29 p.m.

"..and I served on the Danville train."

The rain and clouds are back. Currently, it's 54˚F, with a windchill of 52˚F.

I'm going to try to do a quick catch-up entry, because in years to come, I might be sorry for the gap. But, mostly, it comes down to TV and movies and such. There has been precious little else. I've fallen back into that old trap of rarely leaving the house, except for my days at McWane. Anyway...we're watching the German series Dark (2017, 2019), which is, for the most part, really, really good, and I recommend it almost without reservation. And last night was the series finale of HBO's The Deuce (2017-2019). It was just absolutely perfect, that last episode, down to the final frame, and it captured the sensation of constant haunting that I feel these days whenever we drive through Birmingham, the bleeding together of now and then until it's hard to tell where the one begins and the other lets off. Oh, and Blondie's cover of "Sidewalks of New York." If you have not begun watching The Deuce, you need to try and watch it as you would a movie. Wait until you can spend several consecutive nights on it, and watch the episodes as close together as possible. Because it really is a very long film, not a TV series in an traditional sense.

I'm still fighting my way through the edits on "Refugees."

But, truthfully, I'm having trouble focusing on much of anything that requires mental clarity. I'll leave you with a photograph of the sky.

Oh, and please have a look at the current eBay auctions.


12:02 p.m. (yesterday)

"Ships sway, rivers shift, oceans form, and mountains drift."

Finally a sunny morning. Currently, it's 56˚F.

Dark days here, and I'm not going to try to do much with the LJ right now. I just do not presently have it in me. I'll try to get back on the horse sometime in the next few days. I feel like I'll be doing good to manage photographs.

I will repost this: Dark Regions Press is now taking preorders for La Belle Fleur Sauvage, my "womb plague" novella. Please note that while there are four novellas in this series, I'm only writing the first of them. I think the page might be a little vague on that point.

And please have a look at the current eBay auctions.


1:09 p.m. (yesterday)

"I don't feel it till it hurts sometimes."

A rainy autumn day, though if I didn't know it was only 59˚F out, I'd swear, from the green, that it's still summer.

I am struggling, lately, and really for the last few years, against a tremendous absence of forward momentum. I should write a lot more about this, as it affects everything around me, and perhaps I will try to do that soon.

No McWane yesterday, because I woke with a pounding headache, and the last thing I can do with a migraine is handle fragile fossil bones. Instead, I tried to work on "Refugees," because, apparently, it's smart to try and edit a story I'm already having trouble with when I have a migraine. I only made it through two sections, though before the pain won (there are currently eight sections). I hope to at least finish this second read through today. Then I have to make the first round of line edits before Spooky reads it aloud to me again, before the second round of line edits. I have to finish with this story this weekend, if only because I am growing weary of the thing, and my weariness will hurt it.

After I gave up on proofreading, we picked up two boxes from the post office. Jada is sending me a lot of her spare copies of my books and comics, for eBay and the Brown collection, and there are a few gems in the mix. Yesterday's two boxes yielded such rarities as an ARC of Wrong Things (2001), and one copy each of the horrid second edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder (Meisha Merlin, 2002) with the cover* that looks like something painted on the side of a '70s shaggin' wagon (children, ask your grandparents), Candles for Elizabeth (1998), and Aberrations (No. 27, March 1995, my first published story). My hatred for that edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder is famous. I would only agree to sign copies at conventions if I was allowed to first tear off the cover. I apparently threw out all my contributors copies. I was amazed to discover Jada had kept one. Anyway, it may be one of my rarest books. There's not one with my papers at the John Hay Library (and they have pretty much everything). It's hard to decide whether they should get this one, or if I should hang onto it, or if we should auction it for an absurd price on eBay.

I am not well this morning, though at least it's not a headache.

Last night, we rewatched all but one episode of Season One of Fleabag (2016), before watching Season Two. The show is every bit as brilliant and hilarious as I remember.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.

Later Taters,

11:27 a.m.

* Cover art by Naoto Hattori (who's actually a good artist, so I don't know what went so very fucking wrong here).