Grump Central: Weekly Posts Winter 2023

28 January 2023

I'm having guests for dinner tonight. I spent the week trying to decide whether or not to postpone. It had nothing to do with who my guests were; I was simply lacking the energy to be social. Ultimately I decided to have them over anyway—if nothing else, it's an opportunity to do some creative cooking. Seafood lasagna, anyone?

Otherwise, it's been an unremarkable week doing unremarkable things. Indeed, my life is now entirely unremarkable. I look at my photo album as proof: when I lived in the woods, I was perpetually taking pictures—I took more than 20,000 of them over a nine-year period (not counting the thousands more taken of my modeling), which works out to an average of six a day. Since moving here, I've barely managed one a day; the last one I took was two weeks ago. Today's image is from October, when I caught a pair of neighborhood strays giving each other the evil eye at the conclusion of a nasty fight.

I quit work on my science fiction novel. I had to be realistic: after drafting a rough outline for about one-third of the story, I got a sense of how long it would take to finish. I'd be dead long before then. Such a Sisyphean task would not be satisfying. I decided instead I'd print the cover I designed, glue it onto an old paperback, and just pretend.

So I went to work on a new website about a friend of mine that ought to be ready to go live in a couple of weeks. Writing short stories about things and people I know requires far less effort, with a much higher probability of being completed before the inevitable.

21 January 2023

Nothing to report this week. Well, that's not entirely true; I'm dealing with a few "soap operas." But I'm not at liberty to discuss them publicly, so that leaves me with nothing to say. I'm just here, like a lump of flesh.

14 January 2023

I don't understand. I'd give anything to be back in my woodland retreat, and yet it would appear my furry grandkids are happier here, especially Pris. For much of her adult life, she's over-groomed her tummy, reducing it to a bright pink patch. She's never gone so far as to irritate the skin, but she'd make sure it was as clean as a whistle, with nary a pesky hair in sight.

Now, this is not uncommon for female housecats, particularly Calicos, which are known to be more fastidious than most, so I just chalked it up to a something I'd seen many times before. Over the years I've learned from veterinarians that, aside from steroid shots that wear off in a few months, there's nothing much to be done about it; as long as the cat is otherwise healthy, it should not pose a concern.

And then, just the other day I noticed that her tummy is now almost fully-furred. Make no mistake, I'm not complaining; I couldn't be more delighted to see this. But it has me scratching my head: she eats the same food, uses the the same litter in the same litter box, has the same goofy brother, receives the same attention, and enjoys the same scratching tree, which stands right next to grampa's bed, just as before. She even hears the same music playing all day long!

The only thing that's different is the house itself, which has some different furniture and different views from the windows, but that's about it. Their new home still has a similar kitty door to a similar kitty central, and even a similar kitty cubby. Plus, the same people come to visit me, and Pris is still very shy with them, although Zack would seem to be getting even more sociable than before. I suppose that, in spite of the move having broken my heart, I should be thankful for small, furry favors.

By contrast to my kids, not only is my emotional state darkening, my physical health is likewise deteriorating ever more swiftly, and I'm increasingly disinclined to do much about it (which is no doubt distressing for friends). I find it curiously comforting to allow Nature to take its course; she is, after all, far wiser than any human. Incidentally, I've lately been taking my frustrations out on politicians.

7 January 2023

Considering that I've always been asocial (not to be confused with antisocial, although I'm probably somewhere between the two), it may seem rather surprising that I've entertained guests nearly a dozen times since moving here, three of the occasions being for New Year's alone. I suppose that my small troupe of friends are anxious to squeeze in as many visits as possible before the inevitable occurs—which could be any time. I'm not complaining; I genuinely love seeing my friends, so if it takes a terminal disease to bring us together, it's been worth it. And if there's been any benefit to my move, it's that now I'm much easier to find.

This week's image is of my future reading room, a.k.a the foyer, a.k.a the former mud room. A Thanksgiving dinner guest casually recommended that I purchase a comfy chair and a reading lamp, and turn the empty part of the foyer into a "book nook." I liked the idea enough that I plan to do exactly that. And speaking of books...

Having been more or less forced to abandon modeling, I've begun the new year by returning to an old, neglected pastime: I'm revisiting a science fiction novel I'd started writing back in the 1990s, based on a screenplay I'd penned while I was in college. All that remains of either is a bunch of dusty old ideas in the back of my head, so I'm very nearly starting from scratch—although I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the screenplay was terrible.

It's not a ray-gun shoot-em-up or an interstellar space opera; it's the story of an inhabited world encircled by massive rings. Aligned on edge with the sun, these rings cast an enormous shadow across the planet's equator, creating a turbulent, impenetrable barrier in the atmosphere that essentially cuts the planet in half. Thus the inhabitants of one hemisphere have no knowledge of who or what may inhabit the other—assuming they believe there's another hemisphere in the first place. Are there people over there, too? It's the greatest mystery of all time, although not everyone is keen to solve it.

Above right is the book cover as I've imagined it for nearly thirty years. Back when I conceived a world with giant rings, it seemed to me like the stuff of classic science fiction. But now it appears that a planet with rings two hundred times the size of Saturn's has been discovered: J1407b, a.k.a. "Super Saturn." The diagonal stripes in my rendering are the shadows of moonlets embedded in the rings, the patterns of which are never repeated. Oh, and James David Kingsley is my nom de plume.

Meanwhile, I've endured an exceptionally brutal week simply attempting to refill a prescription, thanks to our increasingly dysfunctional healthcare system. I'm quite surprised I didn't suffer a fatal heart attack as a consequence; indeed, I'm beginning to wish I had, because it's quite clear that managing my healthcare is only going to get more difficult, more frustrating, and more costly on a continuous basis—not that this should come as any surprise.

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