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A Kate Update: July 2020

In this update: cosmic foxes, roses, horrible cthulu-type monsters, kites (the bird type), a farty cat, cakes, donuts and witches. These may or may not be related to each other.

Firstly, the important news! A pile of cat paws and furBobble is sleeping, farting and ordering everyone around with happy abandon. He spent six hours on Friday asleep either on my lap or next to me, so he is one spoiled cat, and is obviously demanding cuddles at every opportunity. He is also a pile of paws and will reluctantly let us touch his toe-beans, is ridiculously fast (I may have a few small scars from trying to play with him) and has the most adorable little snore.

Then on to the second important thing: you need book recommendations, you say? I know I’m biased, but maybe try Beneath The Rising, Weave the Lightning or The Human Son? Also, we’ve got audiobooks coming out! I’d also thoroughly suggest pre-ordering Shadow in the Empire of Light, The Chimera Code and The House of Styx. Wouldn’t want to run out of books, eh? (We have so many good books at work and I just want to yell about all of them… so be thankful you’ve only had a selection!)

Also in work news, I’m reading exciting things that I can’t talk about yet…. WHEEEEEE!

I got sent a late birthday present by a wonderful friend of a voucher for roses. I have spent several hours leafing through (no pun intended) the catalogue going “SO PRETTY” and “climbers? Or a bush? What sort of soil do we have again? We’re mostly shade, so…” It’s been a lot of fun and I still haven’t decided. We think an in-person trip to the centre might be needed!

The kites have been keeeeee-kee-kee-kee from the tree behind the house; there’s two of them floating over most mornings now. They had a bit of a tough time with all the wind last week (well, I say that, but it wasn’t like they were having to flap… it was just the “getting to where they wanted to go” bit that seemed to be giving them issues) but the current sunshine is doing wonders for the thermals, and they’ve just been drifting over on the hunt for kite-sized snacks.

Cupcake with a mini skull on it!

If anyone’s in Oxford, Jericho Coffee on Osney Estate have started doing coffee & donuts on Saturday mornings… and Patron Oxford are also delivering said donuts (and brownies!) to the city! (I think this is incredibly dangerous and haven’t ordered any, because they are FANTASTIC. Once a week is dangerous enough!) And if you’re not in Oxford, they do postal coffee beans. The smell coming out of the roastery is always fantastic, so I would recommend based on that alone!

Also on a cake note, I ordered some amazing cupcakes from Happy Cakes last month (ok, no wait, May…) for one of my authors who was having a crap week – obviously skulls and gravestones helped. (They are relevant, honestly, and they did help cheer her up!)

Leaping fox with blue-stars cosmic colouring

On a pretty-things note, Lynsey Luu does amazing quirky stuff and I am still trying to decide what I want to buy! I’m somewhere between a cosmic fox, the cutest otter ever, or EVERYTHING ELSE. Currently I’m defaulting to the latter. The flower pendants are beautiful, too! Sigh.

I am currently on an Agatha-Christie kick, because it seems to be what my brain needs. Having Miss Marple sweetly pronounce that the world is horrible and evil and it just reminds her of so-and-so the butcher’s son who came to a bad end… it seems to fit the current world, somehow. Incidentally, if you like Agatha Christie, try Sexton Blake – we’re publishing collections of the best stories, and they’re the same sort of mystery and derring-do: Sherlock Holmes mixed with Poirot and Indiana Jones. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them!

Witch on a bridge by PetiteCreme
By PetiteCreme @gemsheldrake

I am sort-of writing again! I was leafing through PetiteCreme‘s sketchbook (with her permission!) and spotted a witch on a bridge… and it reminded me of Necromancer’s Charm. So I hauled it out, and – SO. MANY. NOTES. I mean, I wrote three versions of the start because I couldn’t get the voice, and two documents of other notes because Thief & Seer is sort-of related and…. ARGH. But I really enjoyed reading the start again, which felt good! I’m sending it over to Otter for them to read, as they’re my current “is this any good?!” reader, and then… well, we’ll see if anything comes back?

In general Kate news: I’m on my third week into changing medication, and it’s… not really fun. I had one week of complete exhaustion as one withdrew, and then a week of complete ups and downs as the new one kicked in, and I’m currently in the fine-for-three-days-crash-for-a-day cycle that’s still underlaid by grey. I’m just trying to do as much as I can while manic, and then take the crashes as they come, and trying to ignore the weasels. Animal Crossing and re-reading books are getting me through, plus Bobble cuddles and chocolate. I know I’m in the best position possible to be going through all of this, and I’m just trying to keep stepping forward. If anyone spots the shops getting restocked with new brains, though, let me know. I might be in the market for one.

Also!  In happier news, if anyone’s near Fairford in the Cotswolds, or can get there, the 7a Coffee Shop do SERIOUSLY GOOD BROWNIES. Sam dropped some off for me and oh my goodness. SO GOOD. Collection only, but so worth it.

…I feel like I am fixated on food and books at the moment, which… is fair, I think.

And on a final food – and cat – note, I have been watching Jun’s Kitchen: the most adorable cats, and really nice-looking food!

 

A Kate Update: May 2020

Still here, still going. Still grey. I have lots of posts I want to write but get halfway through and can’t get the words right. (Also, my hands won’t do what I want – I keep typing words wrong. It’s made emails a lot of fun.)

I just made almond & orange cake, and chocolate & orange cake (I had oranges to use up, ok?) The taste test hasn’t yet happened, but they smell good!

Bobble is asleep in his veggie box; his second-favourite place is on a different box, and his third is on his piece of packaging paper on the floor (maybe it’s cooler?). He’s still shouty, opinionated, loves cuddles and loves his new food. We aren’t so keen on the farts from said food, but hopefully they’ll decrease over time.

(Note the pigeon in the window above… we had a nest for a month! We got to see two chicks grow from fluff to pigeons, and then learn to fly. Bobble was Distinctly Unimpressed, and I think the pigeon was also Unimpressed. They mostly interacted nicely though.)

I’ve given up on the garden. The Otter has taken over it for me, as I have deemed it too large a use of spoons and just generally too much stress. However, we have finished painting the fence! At the moment I’m just letting everything grow – the irises in particular look gorgeous.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is my current go-to for brain-turn-off.

I have managed to read a couple of books – reviews to come, I hope! I’m also managing to get through full days at work, and not (always) needing a nap at lunchtime. I’m still sleeping badly, though, or at least waking up feeling exhausted even though I’ve slept.

Haven’t got the spoons to do a Happy Things post, but there have been happy things. I got some great card games for my birthday, and ate cake; I’ve been for some good cycle rides, and chatted to friends, and read some good books, and had plenty of Bobble cuddles. Work’s been going well – I get to reference Avatar The Last Airbender! – and I’m enjoying cooking.

On the downside, the grey has been getting worse, in some ways – I’m definitely not as bad in terms of emotion as I was, and I haven’t been breaking as much. But everything is still very flat and has now become more dream-like; I’ve been wondering where I am, or forgetting what the view outside the window looks like, or trying to remember what I did yesterday. (The last is a bit more of a problem for everyone with days all being the same, I suspect, but it’s still frustrating.) Grey and fluffy, maybe, rather than just grey? But I am being hit with random memories at odd times, which I think is a good thing; hopefully it means my brain is slowly healing. I’ve got another six months minimum on the anti-depressants anyhow, so it’ll be interesting to see how the summer goes.

So: still here, still going, still got Bobble snorkles!

Random Things from Kate Life

Still here, just trundlin’. I don’t really feel like I’ve got anything big to say right now, so I haven’t been posting – I just don’t know what to write. But have some mini-Kate updates, because I have managed to collect a small amount of interesting stuff.

Cat asleep in a box

First update: Bobble has found A Box. It’s always a little disconcerting when your vegetable box sprouts a small black hole, and even more disconcerting when it starts snoring… but it is now His Box, so we’re resigned to having a fuzzy, snoring void at regular intervals.

As you may have spotted on my social media, I’m still buying all the books for work. We’ve announced five and we’ve got *checks notes* two more to announce, and then I’ll do a round-up! I did start the process at different times with all of them, they just ended up coinciding… much to my contract-fuddled-brain’s dismay… but they are all AWESOME and I love them. I am currently in the middle of Cover Hell and will shortly be diving into Editing Hell – meant affectionately! I do like editing, especially when they’re amazing books – but it’s a lot of work!

On which note, if you want a good book to read that is now actually out and I can talk about, try Beneath the Rising from Premee Mohamed – it’s the sort of book that you root for the characters, and then you think you know what’s going on, and then it hits you with everything and you’re yelling at the author on Twitter because HOW VERY DARE THEY. You’ll love it.

Otter has been reading GreenSky, and is now onto the unpublished ones… squee! They’re enjoying them, and I think they’re enjoying access to the author – they keep asking me random questions and picking up on little things, which has been really fun. I’m getting flashes of the world opening up again, as if everything’s lifted off my shoulders, just for a second – unfortunately it isn’t any more than a second, but it’s bittersweet when it happens.

Bobble-cat in the garden

We took a Bobble out into the garden over the weekend – he was a little freaked out (I think partly from the fact someone was following him constantly thanks to the lead, and partly just NEW SPACE WAT DIS) but he ate grass and stepped in fox poo and mostly enjoyed himself. (We didn’t enjoy the fox poo. Luckily the smell wore off by the next day.)

I’ve had a stack of freelance work so most of my time has been spent doing that, but in between that, work and naps, I’ve been re-reading The Goblin Emperor, playing Sagrada and Carcassonne, and trying to stop my laptop falling off my lap because Bobble has decided that he wants to sit there. I’m remembering all my little life-with-cat tricks (slide your feet backwards because you don’t know if there’s suddenly a tail there; get tea and toast BEFORE you sit down; make sure everything is within reach; accept that you will have cat hair EVERYWHERE) and enjoying the snuggles.

Excuse me?In general terms, I’m not great, but still trundling along; physically I’m very up and down, either with all the energy or with none whatsoever. Mentally I’m going through bad points, but just fighting them off as best I can – they’re mostly unexpected and with no obvious triggers, which is very frustrating! The medication change is kicking in but with no major effects so far, so I’m mostly just plodding on as best I can and fighting weasels on the way. My partner has been looking after me, which is great, and so far *crosses fingers* we’re fine and my loved ones are fine, so I’m just hoping everyone stays safe.

On which note, Bobble is insisting that naps are the solution to all of life’s problems, but has also declared that our technique needs work. He’s always very happy to demonstrate correct technique, and remind us that we need to practise. He is a very dilligent teacher!

Foxes in Love - task failed

Image via Foxes in Love.

5 Happy Things: April 2020

I’m not ok – and that’s ok. I’m coping, basically. Nesting in duvet when I need to, answering the emails I can, doing the work I can. Trying to keep my head above water and just let myself have my limits.

I’m still raging, though. I hate being ill. I hate my head. I hate not being capable and able to work as much as I want to; I hate letting people down. BAH.

But it is what it is, and I’m grateful that I am safe, and healthy, and in the best position that I can be. I’m making a few changes to try to help (coming off a medication, trying to make sure I eat and exercise, being open about my limits) but mostly I’m just getting through each day – and that’s fine.

So, happy things!

1.New games

I’ve been playing a game called Sagrada – I’ve got the Android version, but there is a physical board game too! You choose dice to make up a pattern, and it’s so pretty – as well as involving enough thought to make it quite complex at times.

I’ve also been playing a silly set called Gnomes Garden on PS4 – it’s all timing of tasks and it’s quite fun!

2.Bobble

He’s been enjoying morning snuggles while I read a book… he’s not quite doing laps yet, but will put his front paws on you while the back end stays firmly on the sofa. That assists with requesting scritches, of course.

And he has the tiniest blep!

3.Easter Eggs

I’m not doing chocolate very well at the moment, but we got some lovely Easter eggs from Wicked Chocolate (who were doing delivery over Easter! Not sure about currently though…) and they were small and perfect and nommable. Om nom nom.

I also got a whole bag of extras, and delivered them round our close – I was trying to be sneaky, but at least two of our neighbours saw me (the problem of a cul-de-sac!) but hey ho, it still resulted in chocolate for everyone!

4.The garden

Progress! More fence, a garden bench and some makeshift decking.

 

 

5.Friends and Neighbours

The kindness of a neighbour letting us borrow tools. A far-away friend sending a silly gif. A parcel with a wonderful teacup and teas arriving. A ridiculous pun from a terrible person. Check-ins from work colleagues and friends. Cute animal videos from a work friend. Dog and yoga updates from my aunt. Daily life updates from my best friends.

I am finding it hard to send things back out, but everything is received and read and appreciated. Thank you <3

Out In The Garden – April 2020

I must confess that I am a somewhat indifferent gardener; despite having a huge garden as a child (I managed to grown honeysuckle, mostly by dint of letting it do its own thing), an Aunt who is a fantastic professional gardener and a Mother who is very enthusiastic and grows All The Things, it somehow didn’t rub off onto me. I’m not as bad as my father, who Doesn’t Like Worms and therefore isn’t very keen on the whole “dirt” thing, but I also have a tendency to kill house plants, forget to trim anything and then be surprised when there’s a jungle, and mistake useful plants for weeds.

In short, for most of my life I have accepted that my talents lie elsewhere.

I’m pretty good at the practical bit of gardens – I can put up a fence, lay a path, turn over a flowerbed, haul a bramble out by its thorny neck… and I’m actually fairly good at the physical planting bit, that knowledge having somehow rubbed off and stuck. It’s just the actual details of growing stuff that escape me.

However! Otter and I have banded together, and we are going to Grow Stuff. Partly this is down to having an actual garden space, and partly the fact that having our own fruit & veg would actually be quite nice.

We are, however, sanguine about failure. Otter has declared that their definition of success is One Carrot, even if we have to surround it with snail-proof fences and targeted lasers, and keep a 24-hour watch on it. They’ve also threatened to wing any slugs found over the nearest fence, which I think is a little unfair to the neighbours. (That said, our neighbourhood gardening expert votes on feeding slugs beer, and then they drown happy. I haven’t yet suggested that to Otter.) And my definition of success is “some growing things that don’t all get eaten by slugs.” High hopes!

I have previously obtained seeds, so we spent a chunk of yesterday in the garden, taking stock and planting things. The previous owners had planted fruit, and we have gooseberries, raspberries, brambles that I assume may produce blackberries (here’s hoping) and for some unknown reason, an apple tree right in the middle of all of the above. Who the heck plants an apple tree in the middle of other things? Do you know how big those things get?! (Said as someone who had to cope with multiple bumper crops of apples while at the Spa.) That may be getting moved as soon as I can get my hands on compost and/or manure.

But we have one free raised bed (I don’t know if what I cleared out were weeds. I didn’t recognise them, anyhow, and I vaguely recognise some useful plants.) and I’ve put in peas, beets, beans, sweetcorn and… something else that I forgot. I’ll have to go look at the packets. We’ve also put in pumpkins and sunflowers, and I’m going to have a go with onions and leeks on the windowsill in the flat. And there’s tomatoes, peppers and courgettes to go into a hanging grow-bag as soon as I can steal compost from our neighbour.

So it’s a good start, I think… even if it’s going to be a surprise to see what comes up!

Now to go research slug laser-targeting.