Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online


(This art? visible relic of a secret bunker? is from yesterday’s walk on the KU campus, less than a mile from my house. I saw two people power-walking, and a man trying to tire out his Australian Shepherd with a tennis ball.) 

So, this was the first week teaching from home. I went for walks to strengthen my knee, but only went shopping twice, to the hardware store and the grocery store. Things are going to get worse before they get better, and I have friends in quarantine; but here, now, me in this moment, is (perhaps eerily) calm. Here’s my latest: 

  • I have a new patron! THANK YOU. Thank you all, actually, If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be posting about life — and I might not be writing.
  • I have been writing an hour a day, but it is sooooo sloooow. I’ll let you know what I am working on once I feel I am truly in the groove. 
  • I saved a woolybear caterpillar on my walk yesterday. It was hunching slowly across the sidewalk, toward nothing in particular, so I picked it up on a credit card and dropped it into the dirt it was aiming for. I am a woolybear hero, and I am sure they will build temples to me in future generations. 
  • I have been cutting back the Japanese hemlock around my house and deck, which is an invasive species and very aggressive; but it’s hard right now. The hemlocks are the first new leaves; how can I kill the first signs that spring is coming? The woods beyond my second-story deck are now in two clear layers — a fizz of delicate spring green up to about ten feet, and then winter-drab in all the trees taller than that. But if I look carefully, I can see buds everywhere, tiny black polyps against the (currently) gray sky. 
  • Because there’s no foliage yet, I can also see the squirrels doing their thing back there. I’ll be typing (this paragraph, for example) and my eye will be caught by a branch moving jerkily, in a way that’s very different from the usual dipping and bowing of the wind. If I watch for a moment, I see a squirrel, usually as gray as the bark, sometimes the bright red of cedars, bounding up and off. 
  • The trees are full of birdsong which is all audible, because there’s no traffic  and no tree frogs. 
  • I can’t concentrate long enough to finish reading a book right now, but I have begun many. The latest is from 1900, A Prince of Swindlers, by Guy Boothby. Why A prince? Are there others? Is there a king, or a regent of swindlers at least? But it’s entertaining and transparently written, and I might actually get through this one. Other books I am picking my way through: Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis, the outpourings of a vers libre cockroach; Crotchet Castle from Thomas Love Peacock, a frothy, snarky, Gothic from 1831; and the complete short stories of Fredric Brown.

Stay safe, everyone.