I’ve sort of started getting into a schedule. Most of March was a complete wash, to exactly nobody’s surprise, but I’ve been working on a book since the end of March, and early in April I started (*shudder*) exercising. We’ve got an exercise bike in the shed, and–

–see, so, like, 6 years ago I’d given up on Supernatural, but then I was CONVINCED it was gonna wrap up with season 10 and I wanted to watch the end of the series with everybody else, right? So I started catching up, but just as I finished watching s9, they announced s11 and I threw the towel in. And of course when they announced s15 was gonna be the last, I had a moment of “Oh, too bad I won’t be caught up,” because I’d still like to, y’know, like, Be There At The End Of The Road, right?

Only know what’s happened now?

Like everything else, production on Supernatural has been shut down…with 2 episodes left to film. And I thought, “Well, if I start watching RIGHT NOW, I might be able to catch up and STILL BE THERE FOR THE END WITH EVERYBODY ELSE AFTER ALL.”

So on the 6th I started with s10, an episode a day while I use the exercise bike. I’m up to 60 minutes now, which is 1.5 episodes, so at the end of this first week I’ve watched 8 episodes, which…I’m pretty pleased about, actually. It’s proving to be entertaining enough to get me out to the bike so I can find out what happens, anyway.

Ultimately I hope to be watching 2 episodes a day, because my ambition right now is to get through the seasons available on Amazon Prime by my birthday, and that’s, uh, well, I had like 92 episodes and 55 days to watch them in. So. Yeah.

Anyway, the whole thing is like, this is both a very concrete goal (catch up before the last 2 episodes are aired) & a very nebulous one (because WHO KNOWS when they’ll film them, much less have them aired!), so…yeah, it’s like a thing. Of some kind.

And now, at the end of April, I’ve cycled 19 of the past 25 days, which is…pretty good, actually, isn’t it? I’ve just finished s10, having earned 2 non-exercise-bike episodes by cycling on a REAL bike, so I’m got to sit around like an actual lump and eat cookies and finish season 10 tonight. And I was VERY BRAVE and didn’t start s11 despite the cliffhanger, ’cause I HAVEN’T EARNED IT.

Which leaves me with 3 seasons to go by my birthday, EXCEPT s14 dropped on Amazon a couple days ago so now I have FOUR seasons to go by my birthday, which is 100% Not Happening. I’d have to watch a season a week, which would be…oh. hrm. well. hrm.

Ok, I’d been thinking THREE HOURS A DAY, NO WAY, but they’re 42 minute episodes so it’s actually just a smidge over 2 hours a day, which is UNLIKELY, but not IMPOSSIBLE. I mean, it might render me dead and unable to do anything else, but it wouldn’t be IMPOSSIBLE.

(I do not realistically expect to get through 4 seasons in 1 month. )

Anyway, this is the most consistently I’ve exercised in years. Granted, it’s a very, very low-key workout, bc the settings on the bike are something like the equivalent of
1=peddling on a flat surface
2=peddling up kilimanjaro
5=peddling thru granite

so i’m using 1.

But it makes me sweat &unlike a real bike, I’m peddling almost constantly bc there are no downhills to coast on. I have A Dream that eventually I’ll set it on Kilimanjaro instead of flat surface, but I thought I’d try to get to where I could get thru 2 episodes without dying, first.

(tbh, i could 100% do 2 eps without dying right now, as i’m not dying at 1.5 episodes. i’d probably even remain conscious the rest of the day. But that extra 20 minutes seems like A Lot, somehow. It’d probably seem like less if I was getting to the bike a little earlier, say, AT 7 instead of getting out of bed around 7. But…bird by bird, right? Right.)

I’ve been mucking about with chili recipes for ages trying to come up with one that I particularly liked, and I think I’ve finally nailed it.

Catie’s Chili
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
2 bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 c vegetable stock
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed
1 c frozen corn
1 lb (500gm) stew meat, if desired

Heat the oil a bit while you chop the onions into whatever size bits most suits you. Throw the onions into the oil, turn the temperature up to pretty high, and stir occasionally while you’re chopping up the bell peppers into whatever size most suits you. (I like red & yellow ones, which has no bearing on how they’re chopped.) Throw the peppers in with the onions. Stir whenever you remember to. Let them get nice and soft. This takes more than 5 minutes, no matter what other recipes want you to believe.

Put all the spices into a small bowl together. Stir, if you’re feeling really into it. Chop up the meat into smaller bits, if you’re having a chili con carne. Smash the garlic, toss it in, & stir for a minute or so while it browns. You actually have to do this particular bit of stirring or it’ll burn, and burned garlic is nobody’s fave.

If you’re having chili con carne, throw the meat in now & brown it up. If you’re not having chili con carne, skip this paragraph.

Stir the spices in, likewise stirring so they blend and don’t burn. Turn the heat down a bit.

Add the rest of the stuff. Tomatoes first. Maybe you like quite dry chili. Put the first can’s worth in, decide if it looks wet enough. (I didn’t think it did.) Put the second one in. Oh, wait, the tomato paste, put that in. When we say “1 heaping tablespoon” what we mean is “2 tablespoons but who could possibly be bothered to measure two tablespoons of tomato paste.” Maybe you don’t need vegetable stock. Probably you do, though. It’s got all those flavoids. Add the stock. Yeah, that looks about right, now. Oh shit, don’t forget the corn! Okay, the corn is in. Hey, that smells pretty good and it looks nice. Whew, that’s a relief.

Put a lid on it. Set to simmer and come back to stir occasionally. Worry that probably that’s too much liquid after all. Try to set the lid on an angle to let some more of the heat escape. The lid falls back down to fitting properly, but it turns out that’s okay because the amount of liquid when it’s done, after about an hour of simmering and then another hour of sitting on the stove with the heat off while you Skype with family, ends up being exactly perfect.

Eat with cornbread muffins.

(This is definitely good chili, but I also have a cold and may need to tweak it some when I can taste things more, uh, better. Still, it’s a good place to start.)

So a little bit ago my dad, who is notorious for leaving his glasses lying around, was looking for them. We looked in the kitchen. We looked in the library, and I checked the bathroom while he went up to check his room.

Then I went into the living room and called, “I found your glasses, Dad!”

And I HAD found them.

On MY FACE.

*MY* glasses were lying on the coffee table, because I, too, have developed a terrible habit of leaving my glasses lying around (only since my eyes got to be about 45 years old, mind you, and Dad’s been doing it since at least his mid-thirties). I’d picked up Dad’s, which were on the kitchen table, after I’d eaten lunch.

I’d put them on. I’d thought, “Wow, God, how did my glasses get SO DIRTY since I last wore them?”

I took them off. I cleaned them. I thought, “Ugh, I didn’t do a good job, my right eye’s vision is poor.” I took them off again to check, but the lenses looked quite clean. I put them on and, no, my vision was still funny.

I took the glasses off AGAIN and tried to clean out the corner of my eye, in case that was where the vision problem was. Put them back on, nope, still fuzzy. “Christ,” I thought, “I only got a new prescription last July or something, has my vision changed again that much already?”

No. No, it hadn’t. Dad’s prescription and mine have always been quite close to interchangeable, but my right eye has always been worse than his, so while I was fine with the left lens, the right just wasn’t quite strong enough, BUT I DIDN’T REALIZE THE PROBLEM.

And NEITHER DID THE TWO PEOPLE WHO HAD _LOOKED AT ME_ WHILE I WAS WEARING DAD’S GLASSES!

It turns out that our glasses are shaped quite a lot alike, as well as being similar in prescription. Mine are purple, but dark enough, apparently, to be mistaken for Dad’s very similar black-rimmed glasses.

We’ve been laughing about it for about fifteen minutes now. :) :) :)

Last year I decided I want to re-read Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra (more widely known as “the Cast books”) because I’d fallen a couple of books behind and while they’re not quite Big Fat Epic Fantasy, they’re big enough books that I kinda wanted a refresher before reading what I’d missed.

Now, I’d enjoyed them the first time through, obviously, or I wouldn’t have been re-reading them to begin with, but OMG I LOVED THEM EVEN MORE the second time through.
I think a huge reason I liked them even more is because there are a lot of characters and unusual names and complicated relationships, and reading the books originally was at least partially a challenge in just straight-up keeping track of who was who. But in the re-read, I absolutely, definitely knew who everybody was, and so every time someone ‘new’ would show up I’d be like “YAY! HERE’S HOW THEY FIT IN!” instead of “oh god okay and they are, um, who?” and that was just ENORMOUSLY enjoyable.

Anyway, so there I was charging along through the books and then I hit CAST IN PERIL, which is like book 8, and it turned out…I hadn’t read it. I thought I had, but also in reading the later books there’s a character I didn’t know exactly how they’d shown up and thought I must have just kind of forgotten, but…no, it turns out they show up in PERIL and I’d just totally missed reading it somehow (where ‘somehow’ is ‘I had a 2 year old the year the book came out, that’s excuse enough’). So then I started wondering if I had missed OTHER BOOKS…but I hadn’t, as it turned out. Not, at least, before the point where I *knew* I hadn’t read them yet.

Re-reading them all at once (well, okay, over about 6 months, because there are 15 of them and I did a lot of work last year) really emphasized the themes of found family and (in Frozen 2 terms) “do the next right thing”, which…I don’t know, in the world as it is today, those things were heartening to me. I think I actually liked Kaylin (our heroine) more in the re-read than in the initial reading, although *laughs* I gotta say:

There are readers and reviewers who were really annoyed with me for the amount of time it took Joanne Walker to face up to the fact that she had powers and she was gonna have to learn to use them properly because people were getting hurt because she couldn’t*. But it took THREE BOOKS–two, really, because by the end of THUNDERBIRD she’d accepted she needed to–and here’s Kaylin out there sliding into BOOK FIFTEEN and only just now resolving to actually LEARN TO USE her damn powers! So I’m like: really!? Like, they all were mad at ME for Jo’s slow learning curve which took place over like 2.5 books and 4 months when Kaylin’s been refusing lessons on her power for over a year of book time and for 9 or so years of having them?!

Which is neither here nor there, really. I just thought it was funny. :)

Anyway, Kaylin came off really well in a re-read of the series, and my already-considerable love for the supporting cast, particularly the Dragons, was multiplied. I kept laughing out loud at character interactions, and honestly, Michelle says she can’t write romance but these books have a MURDEROUSLY good slow burn with LAYERS of complication and I am here for until the end of damn TIME.

So if you’re looking for a solid, long-running fantasy series with an urban fantasy feel but set in an entirely secondary world, the Chronicles of Elantra are a good choice. The 15th book (16th if you count the novella CAST IN MOONLIGHT) is out later this month, and I’m super-duper looking forward to it now that I’m all caught up.

* I still maintain “putting my head in the sand and hoping REALLY HARD that this will all just GO AWAY” is an extremely common and natural human reaction, but holy shit people got upset about it. My editor, at some point, said to me, “I think maybe you like a little too much reality in your fantasy,” AND MAYBE I DO, BUT DAMN, PEOPLE! Like! Have you not met *people*!? And like! I know “omg i have magic powers YAY SO COOL!” is the more common fantasy book response to, y’know, omg, you have magic powers, BUT THAT’S PART OF WHY JOANNE DIDN’T THINK IT WAS GREAT! The whole idea was to have a character for whom this was problematic! A struggle! I was trying, right from the start, to make her different from Harry Dresden & Anita Blake (which were really the only two urban fantasy series out, when I wrote URBAN SHAMAN, altho by the time it got published it was a whole different story) both of whom were all in for their magic, so her trying to nope on out of there was BY DESIGN! And yet it really got up peoples’ noses. :)

Among many other things available at my Patreon, I’ve been writing a fic for the past several months. Someone there asked for a REDEEMER/Golden-Age-superhero crossover, and since Captain America is mentioned twice in REDEEMER, it seemed like the obvious choice.

Here’s a teaser chunk of what’s available on Patreon! Enjoy, and if you want more, you know where to find it. :)

***

Two years on, Rosie knew what a Redeemed soul looked like, how all the darkness separated and spilled way until only gold and light were left. She knew what pure and good and true and untainted felt like, like a breath of fresh cool air on a muggy morning, pushing away all the day’s troubles.

The boy sitting next to her in art class felt like that all the time.

She couldn’t hardly look at him for the shining of his soul, and maybe a little bit because he was about the prettiest person she’d ever laid eyes on, with yellow hair and blue eyes and shoulders God Himself must have made to carry the weight of the world. He mostly wore white t-shirts tucked into Levis, and Rosie usually lingered in the hall beside class until he’d gone by, so she could follow him in and admire the triangle his shirt made on its way to his waistband. And he could draw, too, way better than Rosie could herself, so she looked at his drawing pad a lot, and only peeked at him out of the corner of her eye.

It took about three days for him to wink at her when he caught her in the act. Rosie clapped her hands to her blushing cheeks, getting ink from her pen all over her face. Her classmate took a handkerchief from the back pocket of his jeans, and when she accepted it, said, “Steve Rogers.”

“Rosie Ransom, nice to mee–” Rosie, wiping up, broke off with a startled laugh. “Steve Rogers, for real? Like Ca–”

Steve Rogers took the smallest breath, just enough to hush Rosie’s exclamation, and in the silence, in the brightness of his soul, she knew for a fact, for the first time, that superheroes were real.

***
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