THE VANDERMEER HOLIDAY REPORT
Ann's put together a little report on the year for relatives. I thought I'd reproduce it here since it's getting a little late to actually snail mail it to friends.
Anyway, happy holidays everyone. Yeah, I know it's Christmas. Still, Happy Holidays, since I'm not a big fan of Fox News.
Have a great holiday!
The year started inauspiciously with our Uncle Alfred surreptitiously drowning in a huge vat of pickles at his old-fashioned food store in Lexington, Kentucky. We surely will miss Alfred, as much for his elaborate shadow puppet plays put on in the backroom as for his witty banter. February and March we traveled a lot, mostly to bookstores and whatnot. Jeff met a lot of bookstore managers and talked to them about his books. One guy in Montana had actually read Veniss Underground, although he didn’t like it much. It was during March that we had the squirrel problem. They kept coming in through the attic and before we knew it, we had a baby squirrel problem, as several newborns entered the world at that time. They made quite a racket and we were loathe to have them captured or killed, so we just put up with it through July or so. I think the worst part of spring, though, was the bizarre problem with the walls of the house. Through most of April, our walls bled a kind of transparent goop in a thin layer that tended to dry up whenever we had a building expert over. No one could find the cause of this goop. We ran it by a chemist and he told us that it was a kind of industrial glue. Eventually it went away.
Worst still, also in April, our cat Jango sprained his neck and we had to get him a head crutch. Basically, this contraption ascended from his shoulders and held his head up, because otherwise it would have lolled, which the vet said would not be good. For some reason, over the years, Jango’s head has gotten bigger and bigger while his body has stayed the same size. The vet says this is genetic and occurs in something like one percent of the population of cats. It’s most noticeable at birth and then after the cat is about two years old. In the intervening years, body growth tends to match head growth. The vet showed us a picture of a litter of these monster-head kittens, looking like furry bowling balls with tiny bodies attached. The gene is dominant, but most females won’t mate with a monster-head male, so they remain rare. Most days now, we spent our time rolling Jango around by his head using a special cart, as the head crutch no longer appears to be working.
Well, so that was the first half of the year. As you may know, we went to Europe over the summer. Paris and Lisbon and Berlin and Prague and Romania and Helsinki were all great and I know if you read Jeff's blog you’ve already heard about our adventures there. A couple of details we left out because we weren't quite sure how to write about them. We’re still not sure. Let us just say that whips, chains, and masks now make us much more uncomfortable than in the past. Anyway, the summer was mostly lovely despite poor Jeff getting trapped in a mascot costume for several hours the day in Brussels when I went shopping and left Jeff to his own devices.
When we returned home, we found that my daughter Erin had successfully driven out the squirrels, young and all, and had a carpenter seal up the holes in the attic roof that had caused the problem in the first place. However, in so doing they had somehow managed to seal in a green fungus that began to shadow the walls rather severely. We were living outside for about a month while that was dealt with. During this time also, Jeff's cousin Joshua went on his killing spree, which was embarrassing for both sides of the family, to be honest. At least it was relatively brief. In other news, Jeff sold another of my mosaic fictions as the collection Autonomous Rose the Krithling to several foreign publishers, under the new pseudonym of Chrysanthemum Jones. The pen name necessary after the disastrous repercussions of including several multi-denominational religious jokes in the remixed version of Secret Life, most of which I was responsible for. I also took the fall and winter to learn an obscure but deadly martial art. Unfortunately, I began to sleepwalk around the same time and I put Jeff in the hospital for about a week when he went to get a drink of water and found himself felled by, as he put it later, "my tiny yet fierce wife." This was certainly unexpected, but his back and nether-regions healed relatively quickly. At about this time, too, my nephew Jake “Malmute” Johansen made an ill-advised attempt to rob a bank using numchucks, which put some strain on the family during November.
Not to mention Jeff running afoul of a writer at the university here, which led to a fist fight in a bagel shop and unexpected nakedness, which at least the police found humorous rather than chargeable.
All through December, we’ve tried to take it easy and to relax, and we hope you have as well. Have a great holiday season!
Oh--and Erin had a baby. Riley. We've found in the last week that he can shoot flames from his one appraising open eye and has a weird defense mechanism involving bad smells.
Love, Ann (and Jeff)