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. . .bearing in mind, as always, that, in my accent, "ketchup" rhymes with "catch-up".

So, let's see. . .

I finished the story I was working on, in first draft; it's resting at the moment, titleless, and with a page of notes.  I'll get back to it, oh, early or mid-October; plenty of time for a mid-November hand-in.  I'm anticipating that the finished story will be about 10,000 words.  Including, yanno, the title.

On the mundane side of life, Steve came home from Maryland; I celebrated my 65th birthday quietly, and managed to miss yoga two weeks in a row because Reasons.  I shall endeavor to do better this week.

Fifth of Five is moving along. . .slowly.  Clean-up books are hard.

I've gotten in a couple more fountain pens -- demonstrator pens, so called, which take ink in right from the bottle via a piston mechanism -- and some fun colored ink:  Noodler's Borealis Black; Noodler's Wampum Purple; Diamine Ancient Copper; Diamine Sherwood Green.  The company I bought the demonstrators from, included a bonus eyedropper pen -- no piston, you fill the barrel via an eyedropper.

One of my new pens has a bold nib, which I'm tentatively preferring over what has been my go-to, the medium-nib Pilot Metropolitan.  The ink flow seems smoother -- granted, this may be the difference in the inks; the Metropolitan uses a cartridge.

While I was ordering things in, I also committed a new coloring book:  The Art of Cursive, which looks like a lot of fun.

Let's see. . .my new glasses arrived, so, yay! new glasses!

On Thursday, Steve and I drove three hours one way to the Burlington Mall in -- surprise! -- Burlington, Massachusetts, there to sign books at the BN (which is technically across from the Mall), and also to test drive a pair of Bose Hearphones.  Frequent auditors of this journal will recall that I'm starting to lose my hearing, as one apparently does, especially if one spent a Large-ish Chunk of one's life, earphones in, typing copy from a Dictaphone.  Anyway. . .hearing aids not required at this point, says the last person who evaluated my hearing, right before the insurance companies decided they weren't in the ear bidness.  However! More than a few studies now have indicated that people who have uncorrected hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia; and! that for the best results from hearing aids, one ought to start using an assist before the loss is so significant as to be disabling.

Thus, the Hearphones, which Bose is very careful to say are not hearing aids; they merely assist in direction hearing, and in blocking out background noise.

I did a test drive at the store with the trainer.  He asked me what I would be using them for, and we briefly discussed the fact that writers spend a lot of their time in bars, and I can no longer hear my tablemates in that setting.  So we did that scenario first -- he pulled up a recording of a 250-people restaurant, and had me adjust the gain on the Hearphones, until I could hear him speaking directly to me.  I could still hear the background noise, if I concentrated, but it was a whole lot easier just to listen to him.

One of the weird things is that you also hear yourself, sorta like using a microphone. . . which, actually, I guess you are.

The trainer then asked if there was anything else, and I said, yes -- movies, television.  I can't hear dialog any more.

So, he pulled up a clip of The Theory of Everything, where Eddie Redmayne is explaining Life, the Universe, and Everything to the nice young lady, and I heard every word, clean and clear.

When the clip ended, the trainer asked how that had worked for me, and my answer was, "I watched Fantastic Beasts and I did not understand one word that man said during the whole movie!  This -- I got everything."

So, I brought the Hearphones home.  They are not cheap, and they are getting a rigorous field testing, because they can be taken back to a Bose with no penalty within 30 days.  And the Extra Good News Is? We don't have to drive 6 hours round trip to take them back, if that proves necessary.  They can be returned to the Bose store in Kittery (which doesn't sell the item, sigh), a mere hour-and-a-half down the road.

Today's test was to be Fantastic Beasts, but, when I put on the Hearphones, I was told that the charge was dangerously low; which is a little scary because I charged them yesterday. It's certainly possible that I forgot to turn them off after my tutorial session yesterday, but a device with a two hour charge isn't going to be as useful as it might be.

In any case, after the Hearphones are charged -- Fantastic Beasts.  If we pass Mr. Redmayne, then Steve and I will take ourselves out to a noisy bar, and I'll see if I can hear him through the din.

. . .I think that about catches us up -- Oh.  No.  I am remiss in reporting that I purchased a blue Totoro at the BN.  Yes, I am weak.

Everybody have a good weekend.

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Early in the morning of Wednesday, August 2, Steve and I turned the keys and the cats over to the house-sitter, and took the show on the road.  Our first goal was Coraoplis, in Moon Township, PA, where we were scheduled to be Writer Guests of Honor at Confluence, from Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6.

This was my first Confluence (I had, way back in the Dark Ages, attended a Phlange in Pittsburgh, which was the convention preceding Confluence) and I had a blast.  Everyone was very kind, interested, and interesting, too.  Confluence is a small con, but I swear to you that the Entire Membership attends all of the panels.  All of my panels were packed, as was my reading (I read "Emancipated Child" -- an Archers Beach story -- and Steve read "Intelligent Design" -- a Liaden short story), and my rant.  The Guest of Honor speech was very well-attended, and, well -- did I say we had a blast?

Moon Township being a far more cosmopolitan area than, oh, Kennebec County, Steve was pleased to find -- and consume -- pierogies, a Food of His People which he had not had for years.  And we were amazed to discover, at the end of con dinner, the existence of Burgatory.

Our after-con first goal was North Tonawanda and the Herschell Carousel Factory.

If you're ever in North Tonawanda New York, you must go to the Herschell Carousel Museum; it's that awesome.  And? There is a fully restored Herschell Carousel on the premises -- one ride is included in the cost of admission; rides thereafter fifty cents each -- more than a bargain!

The surprise takeaway from the museum was that the Herschell Company saw carousels as a way to sell the motors that provide the motivating force.  There were, in the museum, advertisements from the papers of the day, soliciting entrepreneurs to sign into the carousel franchise.

Talk about skewing your worldview.

We spent so much time at the carousel museum that we missed lunch and had a quick, catch-up meal at Pane's restaurant, which is the sort of place that makes you want to move to wherever it is so that it can be your neighborhood restaurant.

After our belated meal, we got back on the road to our second post-con goal of. . .

Niagara Falls, New York (no, we didn't go to the Canada side; yes, we had a good time, anyway), where we claimed our suite at the Red Coach Inn (which was surely an extravagance, but, oh, my goodness, I did love that suite, with its canopied bed, and the gas fireplace -- the fainting couch! -- and the brocade curtains, all of which overlooked the rose garden, and the sidewalk, and just right over there, the flashing, roaring river.

On Tuesday, we walked over Goat Island to pay our respects to Tesla, and also to take at least a gazillion pictures.  We circumnavigated the island, then walked across the Three Sisters Islands, and in general had a very pleasant morning.  After lunch and a nap, we took another walk, down through the gardens to the various landings and overlooks, finishing up the evening with a nice dinner at the Red Coach Inn, and a viewing of the fireworks!

Wednesday, I took a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and got well and truly soaked.  I can report that my quick-drying cargo pants are, indeed, quick drying.  Not so much the red sunhat.

Thursday, we left town, bound for Binghamton, New York, and the carousel circuit -- which is a post in itself.  The short form is that, on Friday, we located and rode all five (number six, which is located in the zoo, is down for maintenance this summer), and won for ourselves the coveted Carousel Circuit rider pins.  Here's mine:

On Saturday, we left Binghamton, over-nighted at World Famous Quechee Gorge, and so to home on Sunday.

And that's the quick version.  I do intend to write a blog post about the Binghamton carousels, so -- watch the skies.  In the meantime, I need to get back to work.

 

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...that I did work today, which is notable, and now it is noted.

The work consisted of digging three holes, which isn't as easy as you might think, those of you who unaccountably do not live on two acres of glacial moraine, or at the very least two acres of shale thinly covered with what we'll call soil.

Why, you ask, was I moved to do work on a fine Maine morning when I ought to have been, um, writing?

Well, I'm glad you asked that question. Alert readers will recall that several days ago I acquired, in defiance of both the Lawn Guy's Assistant, and the neighbor's road-crossing, if not actually free-ranging chickens, plants for the Cat Garden, which has, through the direct intervention of said Forces of Nature more or less become a Weed Garden.

It had been hot and humid the last few days, not at all the sort of weather to encourage a sedentary and overweight author of more than middle years to go outside and dig holes in the garden.   So, I left the plants, in their pots, in approximately the locations I had chosen for their eventual homes.  I watered them each day, but they were looking sort of droopy and sad by this morning, so it was just very fortunate that today was gorgeously blue, and breezy, and dry, and of a temperature that someone who lives in Maine would find reasonable for July.

So! Three holes.  Not exactly in the locations previously chosen -- did I mention we live on shale?  Also there are trees, and trees have roots.  Lots of roots.  No, really; look it up.

In between the rocks and roots, then -- three holes.

One hole for the Cherry Pops Bee Balm which replaces the Murdered Bee Balm of yesteryear.  Bee balm attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and, well, bees.  This particular sort claims to be deer and mildew resistant.

One hole for the Wishing Well Plantain Lily, aka Hosta Wishing Well.  This plant attracts hummingbirds and has a mounding habit, so I envision a Mountain of Hosta in my future.

The third and final hole -- actually the first dug -- was for the White Frost Hemerocallis -- aka a day lily with a curly yellow trumpet not only bigger than my head, but damn' near bigger than Trooper.  It is two feet high.  Who can say no to a two-foot-high day lily that has flowers the size of a coon cat?  It's big enough to be sentient.  Indeed, I have some hope that it will be writing next year's book.

I will also mention here that I have received and have been testing various bug repellents.  It is in my mind to go with the least application that is still effective.  To that end, I began today with the bug repellent bracelet, fully expecting that I would need to come inside and upgrade.

In this, I was disappointed.  I did hear one rather insistent buzz, but closer inspection revealed the author to be a hummingbird, who was apparently under the impression that he was paying me for these plantings, and I could pick the pace up a bit, if I didn't mind.  Or, given hummingbirds, even if I did mind.

So, having now made the record complete, I believe I'll. . .

. . .do some work.

 

Gang aft a-gley

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 07:57 pm
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Ah, my dear friends, I have a terrible dilemma before me.  Both Olga and Natalia wish to be my wife; each has written several times to me of their passion. They are equally attractive; both are looking for love, but neither appears to be able to do laundry.

Well.  That's really not a dilemma at all, is it?

So, today was an odd day.  One of those days where Things Got Done, but they were Entirely the Wrong Things.  On the other hand, a day that includes a milkshake and an unexpected ride in the country can't be too far awry.

At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I did make it to gym and waked for miles.  My "gym book" this go is a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, and a buncha other awards, soon, I'm told to be  Major Motion Picture.  Again.

AWIT was published when I was 10 years old.  Despite this, I didn't read it (the first time) until I was an adult.  It was sitting on a table in EJ Korvette's in...damned if I remember -- Towson, probably.  Anyhow, remainder table, one among many of its own kind, and many others, not necessary of its kind.  I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to finish up doing something or another, and started to read AWIT, as the most interesting looking book on the table, and by the time he re-appeared, I'd tessered once already and wasn't about to miss the rest of the story.  It was a buck I never regretted spending.

I read AWIT a couple times since then, but not for 20 years or so -- found the sequels, but none of them held my interest beyond the first two pages. . .  So, yanno, life goes on; so many books, so little time; and all like that.

But AWIT is going to be coming out as a movie next year; this time, so the hype goes, done right, which means that lots of people who read it as kids, and who imprinted on it, are re-reading.  And some are being disappointed, and blogging about their disappointment (one more time from the choir: What an age we live in).  Now, by the time I'd read AWIT, I'd read. . .a buncha books, many of them science fiction/fantasy (Back when I started reading sf/f, you could easily read the monthly titles, and still have room left over for others kinds of books.  It just wasn't possible, if you were any shakes of a reader at all, to read only science fiction.).  I thought AWIT was a good enough book.  Certainly, the Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which have pleasantly improved my inner life.  Meg irritated me -- but Meg was supposed to irritate me.  Partly, after all, this was a story about Meg coming to terms with Meg, and if she could stand it, so could I.

I did have some reservations about the sudden appearance and utter acceptance of Calvin, especially the part where he liked Meg straight off.  Otherwise, he seemed like good enough kid.

Charles Wallace was being set up either as John the Baptist, or the new Christ figure, but I'd already read Perelandra, and Out of the Silent Planet and whassis -- That Hideous Strength.  Plus, I'd been raised Roman Catholic.  All of which meant I was pretty good at ignoring the God-stuff and following the story along.

So, anyhow.  I read it back then; liked it well enough.  Read it a couple times more and liked it on rereads.

This time, I'm still liking it.  Meg perhaps annoys me less, but, then I know how the story goes, more or less.  I find that I misplaced a couple things on the timeline, but no big surprises so far. . .The Happy Medium, surprisingly or not, irritates me more than Meg does this time.  Hmm.

One of the reviewers I read was saddened by the fact that AWIT didn't sing for them anymore, and blamed -- the 60s (given a 1962 pub date, and its long history of rejection, AWIT was probably written in the late 50s).  The 60s, said the reviewer are just too unbelievable to a person of modern sensibility, and the story therefore suffers from its setting.

I will go on record here as saying that the 60s setting doesn't detract from the story  at all, for this reviewer.  OTOH, I lived through the 60s.

So, that.

After gym, I ran the rest of the errands on my list -- sadly, neither CVS nor Agway had any of the bug repellents I had pinned my hopes upon, so I wound up ordering from the internet, rather than shopping locally.

Agway did provide me with a ginormous lacy yellow day lily, a hug pot of bee balm and a Jimmy hosta with white bells (the hosta on the other end of the property have blue/purple bells).  I have probably under-bought, but the wallet gets a vote, and this will at least start a Cat Garden Renaissance.

For those keeping score at home, I remain Utterly Delighted with my new fountain pen, which has scarcely been out of my hand since I bought it.  So delighted am I, that I have purchased another Pilot Metropolitan, this is the formal White Tiger color scheme, and blue ink, so I will have a fine signing pen at Confluence.

And that?  Really is all the news that's fit to print.

Everybody stay cool, or warm, as appropriate.

If it's Sunday...

Sunday, July 16th, 2017 12:26 pm
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...Steve must've made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  Aaaaaah.  I do so love blueberry pancakes and so seldom have them.  Can't order them when we're having breakfast out, because I go right to sleep, after.  Too many carbs-and-sugars, and not enough coffee and protein in the universe to balance it out, and, since we're usually On The Road when we eat breakfast out...not a good combo.

So, anyway -- blueberry pancakes at home to start the day, then some on-line ordering -- I have committed to a so-called "beginner's" fountain pen, on the theory that it will be easier on my wrists, and more forgiving of the Obscenely Uneven Pressure which is my best effort at writing with a pen nowadays.

Why do I want a pen that's easy on the wrists?  Well. . .it's come to my attention that this book wants to be written first-draft-by-hand.  I can either sit at my desk and stare at the screen for hours at a time, sweating blood for five hundred grudging words, or!  I can sit in my nice chair over there in the reading corner, with a yellow pad and a pen and zip out 2,000 words in an hour.

Even I can understand a message that clear.  The various daily pens -- Sarsa gel-clicks, and a nice Levenger's rollerball -- are good in rotation, but I'm thinking one more would be a nice increase my range, so to speak, and so the Pilot Metropolitan Animal (oooh) will be with me on Tuesday.

In other news, I'm going to try to publish Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® No. 23 as a paper edition today, in between the Rest of It, and then -- we'll see what we see.  This is, as I've probably already mentioned, very much an experiment.

I am aware that we have fallen behind in updating our Patreon page.  There are Reasons, mostly having to do with that army of ducks I mentioned the other day, but I won't bore you with them, and in fact, the reasons don't matter, except insofar as they demonstrate that we're apparently trying to eat something very much bigger than our heads.  We hope to resume the readings, on a less-ambitious schedule, soon, and we thank you for your patience.

I think that's all the news from the Cat Farm today.  I hope everyone has a pleasant day.

 

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So, it's been an odd couple of days, with all the simple things going awry, but, thank goodness, none of the big things.

This morning, we got to Charlie's Subaru before the crew did -- 15 minutes early for a 7:30 am appointment. Skylark, which has 4,600 miles on it, got his 6,000 miles/6 month oil change, tire rotation and systems checks.  All good, which was a relief, if not particularly a surprise, and we're on for driving to Pittsburgh, Niagara Falls, Binghamton, and points wherever else in a couple weeks' time.

After Charlie's got done with us, we went crosstown for breakfast at Lisa's, and then, reasoning that the coast was going to be a Total Zoo, set off up-country (which would be north, to you) on the Big Road, so as to (1) get me some practice driving the Big Roads (my default is the mid-road, if there is one), and (2) not go home immediately.  We stopped at the overlook and tried to say hello to Mount Katahdin, but it was being shy today, hiding under a mantle of clouds.

We continued north and got off at Benedicta (town motto, To Work is to Pray; population 314), drove through town to Sherman, where we found the ramp to the expressway going south, and took advantage of it.

A stop for lunch and home again, to wage war on the ants, and also to dust and vacuum the inside of the car.  Car wash is on the list, and we need more bug juice for the windshield cleaner.

While we were on the road the blue striped Russian sailor shirt arrived from Peterman, and it's gorgeous.  I'm torn between being sorry I waited so very long to buy it, and being delighted that, when I did buy it, it did prove to be splendid.

Speaking of clothes, I found my red hat, which was covered in cat fur (strange).  I have brushed it off, and it, too, is ready for a road trip.

I was going to work this evening, but that kind of got kicked sideways, so tomorrow is a no-internet, all work, all day, sorta day.

And I think that catches us up. Everybody have a terrific weekend.

Today's blog post brought to you by Bruce Springsteen, "4th of July, Asbury Park".  Here's your link.

 

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So this is Rockin' Chair Day for those of us here in the US; the "regular day" sandwiched between a Sunday and a Major Holiday.  Rockin' Chair Day is difficult for those of us who as a rule work on most Sundays and Major Holidays, because we are Free From the Constraints of a Day-Job. (And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have most of the things they're calling "day-jobs" nowadays, since they mostly seem to embrace all of the working on Sundays and Major Holidays of the freelance life without the freedom to tell your boss what you think of them.  But I digress.)

So, anyway, here we are, on the one day with mail delivery out of three, and we're waiting for two checks. Spoiler: neither one arrived.  However, we did receive, by way of a pleasant surprise, our authors' copies of The Year's Best Military and Adventure SF, Volume 3.

In other news, Liaden Universe® short "Due Diligence" is completed in, um, fourth draft and has passed from being a long novelette (at 17,400 words) to a mid-weight novella (at 22,000 words)*.  It will now sit for a week to cool before the last pass.  If all goes well, it will be published as an eChapbook before Steve and I head out to Confluence at the end of July.

The story being off my case means I can return my whole attention to Fifth of Five, and --

What's that?  Why did I stop to write a short story (well, it was supposed to have been a short story) when I should have been writing a novel?

Short answer:  It was in the way.

Slightly longer answer: Sometimes writers forget how to write, and they need to take up a short -- note that I do not say easy -- project in order to relearn the skill.

The ants made a follow-up excursion into the kitchen this afternoon, but their hearts weren't really in it.  It was a short, victorious battle for our side.  We remain vigilant.

And I think that's it for the day.

If you celebrate Independence Day, enjoy!

______
The progression of works, according to SFWA is this:
Novel: 40,000 words +
Novella: 17,500 - 39,999 words
Novelette: 7,500 - 17,499 words
Short Story: less than 7,500 words

Today's blog post title brought to you by CW McCall, "Convoy."  Here's your link.

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There was a coin show in Augusta (Maine) today.  I have an occasional interest in coins, so Steve and I made the plan to get up "early", go to Augusta, have breakfast at IHOP, go to the coin show, then come home.

Well.

We took Route 201 from Winslow to Augusta.  As we were motoring along, some little distance in front of us, on the left shoulder, a bald eagle spread it's mighty wings, lifted about three feet off the ground, and -- fell to the tarmac about two feet into the right lane.  He tried again, getting to the center line this time, and we could see that he had in his talons the limp body of woodchuck.

I had slowed considerably by this time, as one does, and the eagle, who had by this time attracted the interested attention of raven, tried it again.  This time he made it to the middle of the right-hand lane, about eight feet in front of the car, and there he made the Management Decision to leave breakfast where it was and come back when the damn nosy tourists had gone past.

I inched along, being careful not to run over breakfast, and slowly picked up speed.  A glance in the mirror showed breakfast still in the middle of the lane, and no sign of the eagle.  Happily, I suppose -- at least for the eagle, and possibly the raven -- it was early morning on Sunday, so there was a good chance of the eagle reclaiming his breakfast and hauling it to the trees on the right side of the road to eat in peace.

"Well," said Steve, "there's something you don't see everyday."

We eventually raised IHOP, where I ordered the spinach-mushroom-tomato-and-onion omelette, which turned out to be WAAAAAY bigger than my head, and, heeding the well-known warning, I ate about half, which was plenty enough, and set the rest aside.

Our waitress came by soon after, and, with a look of horror on her face, lowered her voice to ask, "Are you done?  Really?  Was it --" a furtive glance over her shoulder -- "Was it gross?"

I assured her that it had been delicious, just much too much for me to eat, which seemed to puzzle her.  She was further saddened by I refused a box, by reason of the fact that we were going to be some hours away from refrigeration.

Sigh.

I need to figure out a better breakfast, if we're going to eat often at IHOP, which appears to lack a senior menu.  Maybe ordering off the sides menu is the way to go. . .

Anyhow, breakfast eaten, we descended upon the coin show, where a vendor asked me what I collected.  I admitted to silver rounds, and he gave me a look of disdain.  "Silver rounds ain't collectin'; it's hoarding."  Live and learn.  I came away with a copy of the 2017 Red Book, which I bought from the club table, to support the effort, and -- despite my Mighty Vow that I would be buy nothing, I --

Let us backtrack a bit.

Those who have known me well -- and, let's face it, even fleetingly -- know that I admire with great admiration the Connecticut quarter.  The one with the tree on the reverse.  Friends started to save them for me out of their pocket change; one of the vendors in Old Orchard Beach saved them for me; scant acquaintances, upon learning of my partiality, would drag their change out of their pockets to see if they had any "Tree Quarters."

This all resulted in a rather embarrassing number of Connecticut quarters resident at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  I laughingly told Steve that I had cornered the market on Connecticut quarters in order to drive the price up.

I thought I was kidding, but one of the things I learned today is that (according to two vendors, at least) most state quarters in Good condition are "worth" 50 cents.

The Connecticut quarter?  Is "worth" 90 cents.

So there you have it.

Oh.  And my purchase in addition to the Red Book?  A proof 1999 S Connecticut quarter.

I honestly didn't think Steve was going to stop laughing.

Well.

After that, we stopped by Barnes and Noble, and then we went for a ride, coming home via Fairfield and the justly famous Belangers Drive-In, where we bought one haddock basket, one order of fried mushrooms, and brought it home to eat.  And it was plenty.  Then, we took a nap.

In all, a very satisfying day off.

How was your Sunday?

All Summer in a Day

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 10:21 am
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Late Spring has arrived here at the Cat Farm, which is a little surprising, given that, last week this time it was snowing.  Monday had been sunny and 70F/21C, and the weatherbeans were calling for more of the same for Tuesday.

So, Steve and I played hookey.  We left early, stopped in Lewiston to have breakfast at Fran's, and hit Old Orchard Beach just at high tide.  We walked the beach a little, I picked up a few empty shells, and tossed one snail back into the surf (the door was still on, and I supposed it was still alive).  We left the beach eventually and walked uptown to the Amtrak station, and Memorial Park.  While Steve waited for a train to photograph, I wandered over to the garden, and admired the places where flowers would be, in another six weeks.

When we finished with OOB, we went into Saco to scope out a townhouse/condo.  It was about as big as the first place we lived together, and not, perhaps, possible with three Very Large, and one Not Small cat in the household.

After our tour of Saco, we headed up to Freeport, and Shopped LLBean before continuing up-state.  We stopped in Augusta to have lunch at Lisa's, and so to home.

Nice day, and good to visit places that were neither doctor's offices nor grocery stores.

I must say, too, that we chose our day well.  Yesterday, it was sullen and cloudy all day until it finally rained like heck for an hour or two.  Today, it's partly cloudy, but the high temp will only be around 54F/12C.  We're under an active flood warning for the Kennebec River until Friday midday, which is always exciting.  Flood stage for the Kennebec at Augusta is 12 feet/3.5 meters, and the 'beans are expecting it to crest at 14 feet/4 meters.  There are a several miles and many hills between us and the Kennebec, and we have no business in Augusta for the next few days.  The local streams and wetlands are somewhat overfull, but nothing at all dangerous to us.


Steve at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017

The Atlantic Ocean from the end of Brown Street at Old Orchard Beach April 11 2017

Memorial Park gazebo and Old Orchard Beach Library April 11 2017
rolanni: (Phoenix from Little Shinies)

Yesterday, we finally, finally achieved the correct alignment of Good Weather, Clear Calendar, and Good Health, so Steve and I lit out for the coast in the still-new Subaru.

It was snowing very lightly as we headed down Route 201 toward Augusta, and we had Classic Rewind cranked on Sirius, which turned out to be brilliant, as we were able to sing along, loudly, with Blue Oyster Cult through "Godzilla."

In Augusta, we stopped to take on breakfast the IHOP, Which. Was. Packed.  I can testify that the German lemon crepes are to die for, in case, yanno, you're near an IHOP and in the mood for German lemon crepes.

After breakfast, we motored across the street to the BN, signed books and got the contact information for the new Events Manager (note to self: get card out of wallet).  Then, we hit the road in earnest, heading straight for Belfast.  It was, I will repeat, a fine day, partly cloudy, temps a thread about 40F/4C, but very windy on the water, even the nice enclosed water of Belfast Bay.  I stood out and breathed in as much salt air as I could before the wind pushed me back into the car, and off we went down Route 1 through Lincolnville, and Rockport, and Camden, and Rockland, Damariscotta, Nobleboro, Waldoboro. . .

In Waldoboro, we stopped at Spacestation Circle K to use the services, and take on coffee.  While we were there a young man came in, looked around and said to the clerk behind the counter, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, "Are they are the gloves you have?"

The clerk gave him a Look, and said, "Clamming gloves over there."  and pointed with her chin.

You know you live in Maine, I guess, when the gas station on the main road carries clamming gloves.

So, anyway, we turned off Route 1 to 27 and headed back to Augusta eventually, and as Fate would Have It, wound up at the IHOP again for a late lunch.  (I had the Senior Tilapia-on-a-bed-of-spinach-with-a-stoopy-white-bread-garlic-slice.  It was good.  Except for the white bread part, which could've used more garlic.)

We then wended our way home via Sidney and Oakland, stopping once more to take on pizza for dinner.  I read for a couple hours while Steve puttered and it was very nice and relaxing, and I. Regret. Nothing.  Nothing.

Today, of course, there's the rest of the laundry to finish, the dishes to wash, the cat bowl to clean, vacuuming to be done, and the prologue of Fifth of Five to write.

I suppose, therefore, that I'd better get busy.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Here's your link to "Godzilla," Blue Oyster Cult.  Sing LOUD.

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Alert readers will recall that Steve and I turned Neogenesis in to Madame the Publisher on January 28, thereby entering that magical and too-fleeting time known as, I Never Have to Write Again.

During that time, we went to Minneapolis as Writer Guests of Honor at MarsCon 2017, turned "Cutting Corners" in to Baen.com; reworked "Dawn's Early Light," for All Hail Our Robot Conquerors!; fixed up an outtake from Neogenesis into short story "Street Cred" (now available as eChapbook Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23).  We also sold a reprint story, and have a big, crunchy interview to finish this week. I want to write one more short, for eChapbook Number 24, but I can't quite get a handle on it, and the window is getting narrower, as I start laying the groundwork (which involves a lot of staring at nothing, and flipping through the notes in the story file) for Fifth of Five.

In addition to Not Ever Writing Again, Life has continued to happen, including doctor appointments, and the coming home to roost of the bills from Steve's Marvelous Medical Adventure back in November. Bread has been baked, laundry washed, worn, and washed again; cats have been brushed; clocks -- most notably including the clock in the car, and the clock on the coffeemaker -- have been set one hour ahead.

We viewed two movies -- our first on the new television set -- "Arrival," and "The Fifth Element."  I find myself a little. . .put off by the picture, which lacks what I think of as "movie texture,"  and feels very much like "soap opera texture."  Well.  I guess I'll get used to it.

Today. . .today, includes some Life:  grocery shopping; a go at the gym, now that the knee's been cleared; and back home to do some laundry, which is getting done as can be this week; and getting down with the big, crunchy interview.

So!  That's what's been going on, here.  How's by you?










This is what my office looked like in the aftermath of Neogenesis.



Post-book non-news

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 10:16 am
rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Well, let's see. . .

I was going to get down to finishing the post-book office clean-up, the taxes, gearing up the files for 2017, and All The Other Stuff that I ignored during the last month of writing Neogenesis, but!

Monday, The Hanging Tree arrived in the mail, so I read it instead of doing any adulting.  Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment, in which several plans were made for health monitoring, including the borked knee.  I'm back to gym, but this time on the recumbent bike, which is apparently less stressful on knee-joints than the treadmill.  Hopefully, I'll be able to strengthen the knee enough that I'll actually be able to walk around Niagara Falls in August.  If it's not significantly better, there's a cortisone shot in my future, so here's hoping bike therapy works.

Yesterday, was Steve's first appointment at the rehab gym, where goal-setting and measurements and other cool things were done.  A three-day-a-week schedule has been put together, which will start next week and continue 'til we leave for MarsCon.  After we come back, re-evaluation will happen.

Today in the mundane world, I'll get back on putting my office back together, and all the other catch-up.  I'm sure there are people out there who manage to keep all of the chores done and the house clean while on deadline, but it's a trick I've never managed.

I think this catches us up. What're y'all doing that's fun?

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

In our last Thrilling Installment, it was Trooper's Birthday, known in some less enlightened parts of the world as December 15.

On Thursday, as per The Plan, we did indeed motor into Waterville to pick up the mail, and also to view Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I adored, despite not being able to hear much of the dialog*. This is possibly telling, but then, I don't expect much from movies except that they look pretty and hang together as a tale at least until the credits roll.

After the movie, we hit Governor's for breakfast (yes, breakfast; don't judge), and so to home.

Friday was a writing day.

Saturday, it snowed, thus becoming a writing day with interludes of snow removal.  In-between, I finished moving my files from the old computer to the new computer, and upgrading the OS on my Asus Android tablet from Lollipop to Marshmallow, which, because of Something Technical, had to be done manually.  This was a case of an operation sounding much scarier than it actually was.  The upgrade went beautifully, and now I have an up-to-date OS, just in time for Google to release the next in series.

Yesterday, also, Steve took point on hooking up my classy new 7-port USB hub and the new multi-size card reader, as both of these required climbing around under the desk, which I'm presently not up for because...

I borked my knee.  No, I don't know how I did it.  I tried ignoring it for a week, which worked about as well as you might think, and babying it with ice and elevation and all like that.  We've reached the point where I'm probably going to call the doctor, though part of me insists that if I don't hear words like "meniscus tear," all will be well.  More or less.

That brings us to what?  Today.  Sunday.

Yesterday, as reported it snowed, and the temps didn't get much higher than 15F/-9C.  Today! It's raining, and the high temp is predicted to be 44F/6C.  Right now, everything is encased in ice, which is my least-favorite winter scenario.

The Plan for the rest of the day is to retire to the comfy reclining chair with the laptop, and work from there.

I had briefly thought that we'd go see Arrival tomorrow before it leaves town, but I'm doubting that's going to be happening.

. . .and I think that catches us all up.

Everybody stay safe.

_________

*I am informed that there are such things as "caption glasses" available at some theaters. Sadly, they are not available at the Waterville Flagship Cinemas.  They are available at the Regal Cinemas, in Augusta, but that makes a 50-mile round trip to see a movie.

rolanni: (Coffee with Rolanni)

Audible lets us know that!

There's a free excerpt available of the audiobook edition of Alliance of EqualsHere's your link.  Enjoy -- and tell your friends!

I had planned to go to the ocean today, but that wasn't possible, because Reasons.  Steve and I did go cat-shopping (as opposed to shopping for cats), because one of the sisal-bound (you notice I say "one of") scratchers has gone to that great sisal forest in the sky. So, naturally we need to replace it.

We knew what we wanted, we had found what we wanted on the web last night, but -- we wanted to take a look at it before committing.  According to the web, the item was available at PetSmart, so off to Augusta we went, to discover that --

You see where this is going, right?

Right.  Plenty of devices made for the grooming of cat claws, but of the perfect scratcher there was no sign.

Since we were in Augusta, where there are two pet supply emporiums, we went down to the other one, but -- no luck.

So, after stopping for lunch, we came home and ordered the dern thing off of the internet, anyway.

Neogenesis. . .stands at about 85,000ish words.  Maybe.  You know what I'm going to wind up doing, and so do I, and I might as well just make my bow, and Do It, instead of wasting energy trying to do it the other, more comfortable, way.  But -- old habits.  Anyway.  Back to writing scenes with an eye toward building bridges after I've written enough to know where everybody is, and when.

Next book -- one character who sits in a room and pets his cat for 100,000 words.

Oh, no. . .wait.

About today's blog title:  AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" has long occupied a Special Place in my Heart, which pretty much proves that I am Not a Nice Person.  And the rendition that I know best includes, at the end of the third stanza, where our narrator is listing the services offered, he says:

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high mountains!
Done dirt cheap

Google Lyrics renders "high mountains" as "high voltage," which just isn't the same.  And what does Google know, anyway?

So, I have used that line as I know it, for the blog title. And now?  I'm going to send you to Joan Jett's cover, which she ends at the bottom of the third stanza.  Here's your link.

#

"Indeed not!" Bechimo sounded scandalized. "It is the captain's place to order for ship and crew."

family-shot-november-3-2016
rolanni: (view from space by rainbow graphics)

So, most of you won't know -- or care -- that the World Science Fiction Society, which administers the Hugo Awards, decided at the business meetings in Seattle and KC (which all WorldCon members may attend, and may also vote on proposals) that they'd give a Hugo for Best Series (written) a whirl and see what happens.

For those who haven't already run away screaming, here's the nut of the definition, from the WFCS:

An eligible work for this special award is a multi-volume science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, which has appeared in at least three volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the calendar year 2016, at least one volume of which was published in 2016.

There's never been a Hugo for Best Series, which might strike some as odd, seeing as series is, and has always been, the backbone of science fiction and fantasy literature.  The thought, for many years, was that A Good Book Will Out, no matter if it was part of a series, or a standalone, and, indeed, many books which were parts of series have won the Novel Hugo (The most puzzling being the "second" book in the "Cyteen Trilogy" -- which really wasn't a trilogy, but a single novel broken into three when it was published in mass market.  But I digress.*).  In any case, the system kinda sorta worked most of the time, for most of the works involved.

Sort of like Ankh-Morpork under the Patrician's rule, really.

However, the idea of a Series Hugo had been kicked around for a number of years, and the Collected Wisdom of the Business Meetings decided to go for it, despite the very real difficulties in administering -- or even voting on -- such an award.

What difficulties, you may ask?

Well, the sheer volume of works written in series is one difficulty (remembering that series are the backbone of sf/f, despite the sudden numbers of people who are now shocked, shocked! to learn that there have ever been any series books published in SF/F before, oh, last week).  For instance, here's a list of the series which are eligible for award consideration for the 2016 Hugos.

Scary, right?  The amount of reading facing a conscientious voter is just. . .horrifying.  Nobody can read that much, even if you (as said conscientious voter) decide to "only" read the qualifying novel for each series, and allow it to be representative of the whole.

The series definition as given by the Society strongly favors trilogies.  Longer series, such as the Discworld, or, oh, the Liaden Universe® -- while employing repeating characters and a consistent setting, and which, in simple numbers, far exceed a paltry 240,000 words -- do not tell a single story, but many, many stories.  (To put that 240,000 words into perspective, Steve and I have published over 300,000 words of short stories just in the Liaden Universe®.)

This suggests a way to thin the herd, and make it (a little) easier for conscientious voters to actually read the field -- rename the Series Hugo the Trilogy Hugo, and keep all else the same.

Of course, that puts the rest of us -- and according to the File 770 list, there are many of us -- kind of back out into the Outer Darkness; and I can hear the screams and the gnashing of teeth from here.

Let me say here that I applaud the effort to acknowledge the form that has been (she repeats tiresomely) the backbone of our field.  And I appreciate the work and thought that the drafting committee obviously put into the project.

But I think that, in the search for a nice, simple, compact award, much nuance has been lost, and real world complexity ignored.

How do we produce an award for long works that's more reflective of the actual world of publishing?  Heck if I know.

One thing that I do think would help the Hugo Awards overall is One and Out.  This would allow room for more works to be considered, rather than allowing entropy to rule, as it has in the past.  I believe that there is a difficulty when the same publication can reliably win a Hugo Award for 30 years.  And there is strong evidence that the winners cannot be counted upon to recuse themselves.

This would, of course, take some of the fun out of the collection and display of multiple Hugo Nominee pins, but I'm sure another game will arise that will be just as much fun for the participants.

So. . .a rant without a solution for your Sunday morning.

Time for me to go to work.

hanky-panky-in-the-hallway-october-1-2016

____________
*Faulty memory department.  Thanks to Melita66 for straightening me out.
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

So, Steve needed to be in Gardiner early this morning for Reasons, and I went with him.  For this outing, I for the first time, loaded All The Things into the Scott eJacket, including tablet, phone, camera, ID, money (forgot to try the water bottle pocket), pens.

The jacket worked pretty well, but I was surprised to find that my camera weighs more than my tablet.  Or, as Steve suggests, the tablet, being flat and thin, spreads its weight more cunningly than the little rock that is the camera.  In any case, the right side of the jacket was noticeably heavier than the left side, so I'll need to work on balancing my load, so to speak.

While we were in Gardiner, and after Steve's Mission was completed, we went over to Bridge Street and had a late breakfast at the justly famous A1 Diner, which has been serving at the same location -- not only on Bridge Street, but on the bridge -- for 70 years, this month.

After breakfast, we drove the long way to Rockland, and so to home.

Here's a picture of me at breakfast.  Photo by Steve Miller.

coffee-at-the-a1-sept-27-2016

Sweet

Saturday, September 24th, 2016 02:04 pm
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

So, y'all are probably anxious for news of the raisin bread.

The bread came out pretty well, though, next time I'm going to put in more raisins.  The recipe I had was light on raisins, and couldn't seem to be able to decide if it wanted to be cinnamon swirl or raisin bread.  Because the recipe made two loaves, I did the cinnamon filling for one, and just baked the other free-form, so to speak.  Both sorts baked and tasted just fine, except, like I said, they needed more raisins.

Where it went off the rails was at the icing stage.  The recipe for the icing told me to use two cups of confectioner's sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and "enough milk to make a thick paste."  I did not understand this to mean, "start with a half-teaspoon of milk, and if that's not enough, go for another half-teaspoon," so what I got was sugar glaze.  Which is fine.  But next time I'll know.

Many thanks to everyone who sent me a recipe, or a link to a recipe, for smearcase!  I'll be trying that some while down the road.

In other news, a kind friend gave me a Scott eVest jacket for a belated birthday present.  I'm still studying on how it works, but, wow, isn't it just like a pilot's jacket, with public pockets, and hidden pockets, and a special place for your license, and a pocket that holds a water bottle?  I'm impressed; and I'm going to get a lot of use out it, too.

Work on Book the Next goes forth, for those of you who are of a nervous disposition.  Also coon cats are being brushed and cuddled, though not as often as they would like.  Last night, the low temperature here at the Confusion Factory was 33F/0C, and the high temp today is set to top out at 61F/16C.

And that?  Catches us up.

Hope everybody has a lovely weekend.

# # #

"Glorious its deeds," Nelirikk added.

road-block-sept-22-2016
rolanni: (Tea and dragon)

Where was I?

Oh.  Wednesday -- volunteer gig at the hospital.  I did not entirely remember my lines -- or, at least, I remembered the lines I had been given several weeks ago, but they were no longer the lines that were required.  An interesting day therefore was had.

I arrived home to the happy news that my reading corner rug had arrived!

Have I mentioned here that I was renovating the corner of my office where my the cats' rocker had been located, and making it into a proper reading corner?  In fact, it's a project that has been going on for a number of months, as I haunted Marden's and estate sales and sale-sales.  I finally located the perfect chair at a doable price at the local furniture store's pre-Labor-Day sale*.  It was, naturally, the floor model, and it is a lovely chair indeed.  I'm very happy with my purchase**.

So, anyway, more window shopping and turning the Internet upside down, looking for the deals in its pockets finally turned up a (machine loomed) Turkey carpet at an incredible price, and that?  is what arrived on Wednesday.  I immediately unrolled it and set the unabridged dictionaries along the roll-edge to flatten, because this is exactly why god gave us unabridged dictionaries.

Yesterday -- Thursday -- the final piece arrived -- a full-spectrum reading lamp.  The corner is now complete -- and I may never leave.

Today! Because Central Maine persists in withholding raisin bread with white icing***, for which I've had a strong yen, ever since getting back from Maryland -- I will be making raisin bread with white icing.  *snaps fingers under universe's nose*

I'm also jonseing for smearcase (schmierkase in the proper German), but I'm pretty sure the universe is going to win that one.

All that said -- I have a question for y'all.

Miri and Liz appear together in the stories "Fighting Chance," and "Misfits;" they also appear in Agent of Change.  Are there any other stories with a strong Miri-and-Liz dynamic?

Here are some pictures of the renovated reading corner:

trooper-test-driving-new-rug-sept-22-2016 new-reading-corner-sept-22-2016

___________

*No, I don't know why you'd have a big sale before Labor Day, but Maine is a different country.  GM used to do model changeover in August, which meant that all the dealerships had stunning sales on Last Year's Models, so perhaps there's something similar that goes on with furniture.

**The tags on the chair allowed it to be a La-Z-Boy from the so-called "Designer's Choice Collection." A friend on Facebook offers the further information that it is a "high-leg recliner" and is most likely the Woodmont model.  *hits Google*.

Uh.  Yeah, that's it.  I am, for the record, a Shopping Goddess.

***I asked the baker at the local supermarket if they ever had raisin bread with white icing, and she stared at me blankly before offering up the information that, at Easter, they make hot cross buns.  All of the pieces of my childhood are evaporating before my eyes.  I think this is how people die; when the last thing thins out into fog, so do we.

rolanni: (Red umbrella from rainbow graphics)

Yesterday was a half-holiday.  Steve made His Own Sort of Gourmet Mac-n-Cheese for our supper, then we -- with the coon cats, who were very interested, indeed -- viewed The Book of Life, and assorted short features.  We also finished reading aloud Feet of Clay, the. . .third? Night Watch novel.  Next up is Peter Pan.

Why Peter Pan, you ask?  Well, when we were down south, sitting vigil for Steve's step-father, I was at one point the only one in the room, aside Pete.  I figured he might miss all the noise and voices, being so very used to living in hubbub.  I'm not much of an extemporaneous chatterer, but I can certainly read out loud.  So I started reading Peter Pan, since I don't seem to have The Prince and the Pauper on my tablet at the moment.  Steve came in at some point, and when I would have stopped, asked me to go on.  Turns out, he doesn't remember reading Peter Pan, so we'll finish it up properly.

After Peter -- or, at least, starting on September 30 -- we will of course begin reading A Night in the Lonesome October one chapter a night 'til Halloween, as has been our custom for some years now.  After that, perhaps it will be time again for the Watch, and Jingo.

In possibly more relevant news, readers are already writing to me in various states from mild curiosity to barely-restrained panic, wondering why it is that they cannot yet! pre-order the electronic edition of The Gathering Edge from Amazon (and I assume the other on-line bookstores).  The fear is that ...Edge will only be available in hardcover, and be released in electronic at some later date, after Demand Has Built.  Or something.

Now, if y'all will cast your minds back, you will recall that Amazon has not, at least for the last four Liaden titles, opened pre-orders for the electronic edition this early.  Yes, I say early.  ...Edge is scheduled to be released in hardcover on May 2, 2017 -- more than eight months from now.  Regardless of what may be done for other titles by other authors, for Liaden titles -- and the Carousel titles, too -- Amazon opens pre-orders for electronic editions somewhere between one month and three days before the hardcover release date.

So, there's no need to panic, honest.

Related to this -- yes, work is going forward on Book the Next, still without a proper title, poor tyke.  Before our unfortunate break, I had said that I would post snippets, but not word count, because of the Very Odd Way in which this book is going together.  That is still in force.

So!  Today's blog post title is brought to you by Foul Ole Ron, from Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.  Because it amuses me.

# # #

"Don't you get attitudinal with me! Won't hurt you to show a little respect – and a lotta restraint! What if he'd been driving? Or flying? You might've killed him, is what -- and I ain't having it! Acazzi?"

belle-might-be-a-little-tense-sept-18-2016

Into the Light

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 01:54 pm
rolanni: (kitty!)

Today's theme has been light.

This morning, we -- by which I of course mean, Steve -- strung new twinkle lights around the kitchen, and there was much rejoicing.

We also purchased new lights:  An LED arc floor lamp for the living room, which is severely underlit;  a LED desk lamp with a charging port, and three lighting modes and God She knows whatall else, for Steve's office, this wonder replacing the WWII era dual fluorescent desk lamp he's been using since Forever; and an LED so-called full spectrum floor lamp for my office, replacing the three-way table lamp which has been my reading lamp since also Forever, and which does not accommodate the New Light Bulbs.  These delights should all reach us by next Tuesday, just in time for Autumn.

In other news, we're playing catch-up with all the things -- personal, and professional -- that were left hanging, while we were down south, and doing some serious recharging.  It's curiously draining, sitting vigil on a death, even if there are plenty of family in place to help. Tomorrow may include a visit to the ocean, and after that, it's back to work.

Today, I have some pr stuff to do; then I think I'm for the chair and a book, again.  Maybe I can work in a nap, too.

trooper-has-the-floor-aug-31-2016

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