Where I’ve been

Where have I been? As it turns out, all over the place.

  • Visiting zoos and museums and at least one arboretum. Apes and elephants and boars are on my mind. Crocodilians, too, but that’s not new for me.
  • Writing this beast of a middle-grade fantasy novel. It’s proving increasingly unwieldy, as the wood around the path (to pull from an essay in Philip Pullman’s Dæmon Voices) grows exponentially more vast and layered. The path is currently a little under eight thousand words; the wood is at about twenty-five thousand.
  • Having a lot of vivid dreams lately. A lot of recurring motifs, locations, characters, etc., including the famous donkey lady ghost of San Antonio legend and a number of mastodons and mammoths. Also a recurring dank grotto filled with columns of slots for lushly-planted interdimensional aquariums. Newts and sharks and squids have appeared so far, as have snails and axolotls.
  • Thinking a lot about abalones and sea urchins.
  • Restarting my podcast Trolley Handle. Unsure if my current episodes will remain up, as they’re just unscripted recordings of my freestyle rambling on various subjects. I’m hoping to interview some people soon, including the fiction writers Scott Edelman and Rachel Neumeier. The former has an excellent science-fiction podcast called Eating the Fantastic.
  • I intend to visit the UK in the future and see the Horniman Walrus. I’d also like to witness a wassailing Mari Lwyd.
  • I’ve been really getting into cooking lately, especially quiche Lorraine. Also beef roasts with various vegetables and tubers. I’m hoping to teach myself to make Indian food soon.
  • Saw Nope and enjoyed it immensely.
  • Looking forward to seeing all the trick-or-treaters tomorrow. The current neighborhood has a lot of people of all ages, including plenty of kids. So I’ve stocked up on chocolates and other candies to hand out to them. (I haven’t been trick-or-treating myself since I was… fifteen, maybe? I’m looking forward to doing it again eventually. Maybe as a mother, though that’s a ways off still.)
  • Just started watching Sinister for the first time. Still watching American Gods and The Terror. I also need to get back to The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance soon.
  • Listening to the following audiobooks: Dawnshard, Moby Dick, Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault, Redwall (again), Inkspell, Invisible Cities, and the complete Oz series.
  • Might return to reading the Dark Tower series again soon.
  • Hopefully I’ll be able to start up a home aquarium soon. I’m thinking maybe a 20-gallon long with some tetras.

Alligators and Elk, Bison and Bears

Written yesterday:

I’ve just passed from the North America segment of a huge zoo to its neighboring African counterpart. This is a very, very old part of the world. The low, heavily forested hills of this region were once Magnificent mountains, islands which rose from the seas half a billion turn-cycles ago when vertebrates hadn’t yet come to be.
I read a sign that around 6000-1500 BCE, early Native Americans left the rocks unfit to be weapons and tools, and these rejected flakes of lithic discard litter the site still. I immediately thought back on a stone I had indeed actually noted earlier in passing that it had looked like a malformed arrowhead. I decided some things are better left to lie unperturbed.
I’ve just gotten to the gorilla exhibit, and I’m thinking of a story idea: that of forgotten apes of eld in protoAmerica.

DREAMSEER excerpt #3. “The Alaskan Mammoth Encounter”

A herd of woolly mammoths arrived at Nome, trudging across the desert tundras and muddy lands and flowering prairies to attend the Oceanic Worm Councils that summer. A local guy had just been raving about the glories of casting authoritarian restaurant staff hurtling screaming into the blazes of the sun when he happened to look👀 over his shoulders and came face-to-face with a pack of enormous shaggy elephantid proboscideans.
“Well, hello there,” he drawled, bowing his head slightly for a moment. “I didn’t think youse was due here until the autumnfall.”
“Indeed!” the closest beast exclaimed. “We are present in your stronghold at the current juncture and seek to land our crafts upon a ghostly platform which rivals the frosts of the air and the wind.”
“And here I thought I was more likely to encounter Himalayan tiger crabs in the Australian Bush this past winter,” said the man. That did not happen.” He extended his hand, and the same forefront mammoth raised his trunk; they shook. “My name is John Bellflower.”
“I am Edlynn Vmashij,” the mammoth replied. “It means Silvertooth the Grand and Bold in one of our more recent tongues.”
“It sounds like Late High Wolklyum Dynasty Period,” John Bellflower said. “Early during the Second Reconstruction of the early Cenozoic, all compressed into a handful of centuries.”
“I see you know our cultures well.”
“Well,” he said. “I am a professor at the Grand Rapids Library of Science, where I have a Keep with a bawn and an ossicled Ossuary. It contains many beautiful knowledges of knot-tying and sailing, anemone anatomy and sun tamarins in a tree of green crystals and metal bars hanging with dozens of ghostly transparent bats.”

DREAMSEER excerpt #2. “The Llyrd”

“How fare things, my good old colleague and friend?”

“As well as you know, the usual being plagued by antlered worms and attacking earth-eaters? Things are merry and even nearing Magnificent at times.”

Hopefully wizards and bats and lizards and rats can compete with that, with Carnival Jack.

Though the Architect seems friendly, which is probably just swell.

Alan continued. “Beyond the Architect are the cave spiders, crawling around one another within a great cylindrical star-cavern and paying no heed to the small crab between their feet holding one Dreamsphere (ours). Upon the outside surface of the cylinder trods a great elk, and between the icy-white and ivy-draped peaks of its antlers lies a great network of cobwebs, of silken strings, upon which dances a great Remipede, playing out the Song of Reality on the strings of the great harp, which hums in the ear of the narwhal-squids which pull the chariot of the Hand of Time around the circumference of the great celestial Clown Clock, which crawls with ogres and goblins and spiders and trolls and dragons and squid and emerald crabs and hermit crabs and octopus-belugas, all hanging about in the tide-pools between its infinitely-stretching axial spars.”


“Indeed so. All of this is in turn imagined by the velociraptor-monkey with a spear which lives in a tree and hides from snapping packs of weevil-aardvark-aardwolf-wolves, cougar crabs and angry lobster-tigers snapping for a denied dinner. In a hidden compartment in its tree, the velociraptor-monkey protects a hidden tankful of Architects on a reef, which hold memories via Dreamspheres. Butterflies and moths made of jewels flit lazily above it all, more heedless than the vultures and bustards and buzzards which are starting to crowd in the sky and blot out the sun and descend on the land to relieve its remaining carnage that following day. ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, Yesterday Holds Memories In Time,’ screams Carnival Jack’s enabler with a great cruel sneer and pulls out your heart and demands that you yield. You cannot decrypt it, no matter how you scream. We all emerge as particles of unfiltered light from the eyes at the tips of an anemone’s waving fronds.”

“Have you seen the Llyrd?”

“No, but I’ve heard about it. The Llyrd is a genius and a massive worm with antlers. The devotees on Earth-world there will gather before it and declare their religion to be the Truth in the name of the great Eye on the tor-peak of the Llyrd. They devoted themselves to this creature as willing slaves. Baffled and unsure of what to do next, the Llyrd guided the nuns to erect great cities and enact great justice, but in doing so they found themselves at war, and every time the Llyrd tried to intervene, things fell further. Now, the Lurd has abandoned its post as leader but lingers to lurk and observe.”

Old Carnival Jack

While on the attack

Will give you a whack

A crack to the back

Add you to his stack.

DREAMSEER excerpt #1. “Under Jack’s Bigtop”

As the boy sat in the chair, cheesecloth in mouth, arms tied behind him, spotlights lit the Bigtop’s upper interior, and clowns wielding knives whirled about on platforms and leapt past one another through the air off trapezes, clanging blades together ceremonially as they traded places on the ropes. These turned and swung again, this time doing multiple cartwheels through the air while cackling and juggling knives.
A flamingo wearing an iron mask did an Irish jig on a tightrope, despite having no feet.

The camel-sized Harbinger ants clacked furiously against the barrier, but this was fruitless. Their formic mandibles had begun to tremble, though from what Alan couldn’t be certain.
The Big Wizard was unusually silent in her birdcage now; Alan knew she wept, however, as he knew his family well. The birdcage had to be quite tall, of course, to imprison a four-meter-high Mari Lwyd with branching ossicones. But the Bigtop was a generously towering and looming place underground.
At least they’re not playing “Entry of the Gladiators,” Alan mused in spite of his dire lot. To do so, he reasoned, would have been cliché—not to mention on-the-nose. Perhaps I shouldn’t be crediting this insane poltergeist too much, even so.
The Llyrd and other present elkworms watched solemnly from beyond the fissure of helplessness; they, along with a crowd of writhing gargantuan centipedes, all imprisoned here under the Bigtop, would be forced to witness the execution.
A loud crashing resounded as alarmingly bright lights fell on the Jester King, whose slender knives glinted playfully with malevolent promise in his lightly dancing and shifting grips.
“Tonight,” he declared in a voice which drowned out all else, “I will at long last end the lineage of another Wizard Magnificent. For once, Jill will pay for leaving me to die on that mountain. After tonight’s grand event, my abilities in goblinSpace will increase manifold!”
As if to spite Alan’s earlier thought, Fučík’s “Entry of the Gladiators” began to echo throughout the cavernous canvases of the colossal towering tent.
Oh well, at least it’s not “Pomp and Circumstance.” As an unschooler, I hope I’m never subjected to that crap. It’s decent enough, but it’s such a cliché for graduations.
And maybe now he wouldn’t be, as Jack had begun his dance and was acrobatically advancing toward the bound boy.
This cheesecloth sucks, Alan thought. Not good for my lips, gums, or face, surely.
Jack was getting closer.