Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Demon-Squirrel is Back

Last night, I come home, take a gander out our balcony window, and notice two mouse-traps on our deck.

Mouse-traps baited with paper towel.

Apparently the Demon Squirrel of Seville came back. Hence the mouse-traps.

She didn't chew up our plants this time, but she did rip the paper towels off the makeshift solarium El Husbando built around his hibernating Venus Flytrap (it's a long story.) Hence, mouse-traps baited with paper towels.

Have I mentioned El Husbando can be pretty obsessive about his plants? I mean, he's no match for me when it comes to weirdness, but still. Paper towels. As bait. For a squirrel.

What brought on this malevolence, you ask? What caused my mild-mannered, vegetarian husband to break out the weapons of mass destruction? Well, the perceived threat to his Venus Flytrap was certainly part of it, but the real military provocation came in the form of bioterrorism: he discovered not one, not two, but three (relatively) large piles of squirrel poo on our balcony. I admit, that's a fairly high poo-to-balcony ratio.

Groovin' peace-nik that I am, I squawked as soon as I saw the traps. El Husbando is of the opinion the mouse-traps would only scare the squirrel, not hurt it, while I think they could break her paw or wind up permanently attached to her tail, hampering the animal for life. So I poked his traps and promised to find a more humane way to drive off Our Furry Nemesis.

Having given the great god Google its favourite sacrifice (my free time), I am now equipped with my own weapon of mass destruction:

A spritzer bottle full of extra-spicy hot sauce. Apparently, demon squirrels don't like their nesting materials Cajun style.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


There. Are. No. Words.

Well, except for "Extreme Shepherding".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our Furry Arch-Nemesis

It's interesting how perspectives can shift with the addition of one small piece of information. I just finished reading Jim Butcher's Princeps' Fury, and one of the series' principal villains just turned out to be not such a nasty character after all--or rather his motivations are abruptly more understandable, even if the reader doesn't approve of his actions. Mr. Butcher has been doing this intermittedly throughout the series.

As in fiction, so in life! Yesterday, the cutest little cuddle-bunny you ever saw abruptly turned into Our Furry Arch-Nemesis. The one tiny thing that changed my perception of aforementioned beastie? Lilac.

Let me explain. We're city dwellers right in the heart of downtown Concreteum-Urbania, and when you live in a weensy 12th floor apartment like we do, if a squirrel runs up the side of the building and hops onto your balcony, that's freakin' adorable, right?

And she was; she had a teddy bear body and bright shiny eyes. Her mouth had that grave, groundhog-earnestness to it. She was black and agile and her tail fluffed endearingly.

I'm a bit lazy about pruning my plants, and so there's a popcorn bucket full of dead clippings sitting on the deck. It's been there, in various degrees of brimmingness, for several years.

The cuddle bunny starts grabbing handfuls of this material, tucking it into her mouth, and dashing out of sight behind our juniper tree, presumably to scamper back down the building. Still adorable, right?

But wait--we discover she's not running down the building; she's building a nest behind the juniper tree.

El Husbando starts being a bit concerned at this point, but I start cheering. "Baby squirrels! We're going to have baby squirrels running around on our deck this summer!"

"They're going to poop all over it. It'll be worse than the pigeons."

"Baby squirrels! Yay!"

"Hey--there's a lot of green material in that nest..."

El Husbando steps outside. Squirrel runs away down the building. E. H. inspects the nest, then returns with his lips pressed thin. "She's completely chewed up the back of the juniper."

So what? thinks I. That's the back; we don't see that part anyway. And baby squirrels! How cute would that be?

"I'm going to poke her with a stick so she doesn't come up anymore," says El Husbando.

Now this comment shocks me. El Husbando is a vegetarian because he doesn't believe a living creature should have to die just so he can eat. However, he's also a bit of a fuss-pot regarding his plants, and apparently those two instincts were at war. I, of course, decided to help out the side I agreed with more.

"Don't do that! If she falls off the building, she'll die. Besides, she's just looking for a place to have her babies."

I would have said more, but at that point, El Husbando casually dropped the bomb."She's bitten a huge chunk off your tree, too."

My tree? Wait--you mean my lilac tree?

The squirrel might as well have grown horns and mandibles. I've loved the scent of lilacs since I was a child, and before Sepiru Chris, his wife Regina, and their feline overlord Pommes went galivanting off to Switzerland, they dug a lilac bush up from their backyard and gave it to me in a pot. Last year, it had recovered from the transplant enough to put out a single spray of flowers. I have high hopes for it this year.

And there was indeed a big chunk of it chewed off. Well, then. Time to show Our Furry Nemesis just who's got the opposable thumbs.

We broke up and threw away her nesting material. We propped some metal slats behind the juniper. We drizzled Pine Sol in the same area, just to make sure it didn't seem hospitable (although I'm not sure the scent of pine would bother a squirrel...) We lashed planks of wood to our balcony to make it difficult for her to get off the wall and onto our deck.

I think the commotion itself scared her away, more than our physical deterrents, since we didn't see her after that.

One small revelation, and everything changes. This is part of why backstory in a book can be a bad thing, and it's also why we give our characters secrets--every secret can become a turning point for your story.

Or every lilac branch.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lame Goblin: The Haiku

Italian rum cake
With whipped cream, chocolate, nuts
Sherry custard and

A mocha filling
Is very filling indeed.
Especially if

You team it with a
Triple batch of lemon loaf
And Nouli's dip. Yum.

Let us not forget
The chicken broiled for lunches.
A storm: it was cooked.

Today, Goblin was
Queen of the kitchen, full of
Zip and energy.

Tonight, Goblin is
A sad lump of lethargy
Tired and over-full.

Please forgive Goblin's
Lack of blog post; her belly
Doth block the keyboard.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Bashful Exhibitionist

I wrote a book. I sent it to an agent who read it and offered to represent it. She sent it to a variety of editors who have read it.

No problems, there.

My husband has asked to read this book. My brother has asked to read it. A good friend has asked to read it.

*Kermit-flail of terror*

The thing is, I'm terribly bashful about letting anyone I know read my work. Publishing professionals? Sure. Fellow writers willing to critique? You bet. But loved ones? Eek!

I even squawk and flail at El Husbando when he wanders by the computer while I'm writing. I have this horror of him reading something over my shoulder and laughing (which could totally happen, despite him being a supportive sweetheart. He only reads non-fiction, and jokingly demeans my reading tastes as "dragon books" or even "snakes-with-wings books".)

I know this is weird. On one leg o' the chicken, I want to see my book on store shelves; I want everyone to read it. On the other, I'm leery of letting anyone I care about see it until publishing professionals have deemed it Worthy™. I think I crave the mental safety net of being able to keep it all secret if it turns out I'm not talented enough to be a published writer.

A friend once asked me why I wanted to publish my writing, and I gave an answer that must have sounded mercenary. I said I wanted to get paid. It sounds distasteful, but I think that answer actually represents progress for me.

Why? Because there are three common reasons why a person decides to seek publication:

1) They're unimpressed with the level of adulation they receive from the world and have recognized writing as a way to exhibit their awesomeness, thus facilitating the populace's worship of them.

2) They believe their accomplishments don't count unless other people deem them worthy, i.e. they are not talented until someone else says so.

3) They would like to make a living at writing.

That last option is the only healthy one on the list; the other two stem from self-esteem issues.

I started out in category 2; I think I've (mostly) moved into category 3 now. Being neurotic about anyone I know reading my work is just a vestige of the bad ol' days.

Note those reasons for wanting to be published have nothing to do with wanting to write--you should write because it purges your poisons and animates your fantasies, because it lets you stretch and enjoy your natural talents. You can even write chiefly to please others, but the best reason to write is because you love it.

The best reason to seek publication, however, is because you want to be paid. It isn't a good thing for your ego to be involved.


If you're a writer (or creator of content of any sort other than pure exhibitionism blogging), what category do you fall into, 1, 2, or 3? Why are you trying to be published?

And why do you create at all? Why are you a writer?

I'd love to hear your motivations.

Pageloads since 01/01/2009: