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2017-01-01 11:52 am

Happy New Year

I haven't posted in a while, and I'm behind on answering messages, for which I apologize.

I just want to wish everybody a happy new year with this wonderful video from this morning of a hummingbird nestling taking its maiden flight. The second nestling fledged less than an hour later, but the video of that one isn't as good.
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2016-09-12 07:56 pm

NFE 2016

Here's my gift. It is one of only a handful of Andrew Ketterley stories in existence! Go read it. A high and lonely destiny comes at a cost.

The High and Lonely Destiny of Andrew Ketterley (1129 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Andrew Ketterley
Additional Tags: Epistolary, suggested Andrew Ketterley/MOC

The work of a magician is solitary and full of sacrifice.

My own story, of course, I cannot talk about until reveal. I'm a little concerned because my recipient hasn't said anything yet. Sigh. Go, TE, go and do something else and DON'T WORRY. People like your story. Really, they do.
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2016-08-10 06:41 pm


Having long, protracted, yet fundamentally silly argument with a friend of Maritus's about whether Vikings had horns on their helmets.

According to the archaeological record, contemporary paintings and sculpture, and contemporary descriptions, they did not.

For some reason, however, this friend keeps sending me pictures of Bronze Age petroglyphs (with horns!), 14th century German burial helmets (with horns!), and Medieval Russian armor (with horns!), as though this proves something. Arrgh.
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2016-07-25 02:49 pm

Norway Pics

 That's it for the pics. I hope it's not all too spammy, I can never quite anticipate how large the individual photos are going to be on the screen.
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2016-07-25 02:40 pm


A few pictures from Gudbrandstalen, the valley where much of Sigrid
Undset's novel Kristin Lavransdatter is set.
Taken from the train. )
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2016-07-25 02:09 pm


The center of the town of Ålesund was completely rebuilt after a catastrophic fire in 1904, in Art Nouveau style. (Catastrophic fires are a running theme in the history of Norwegian cities.) One street is named after Kaiser Wilhelm (!), a major benefactor of the town after the fire. We had only a short time there because we had a ferry to catch.

A few architectural details. )
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2016-07-25 01:52 pm

Pining for the Fjords

We just returned from a trip to Norway. These pics were all taken with phones, so the focus isn't perfect. I took the first two and Maritus took the last one.

1. Overlooking Aurlandsfjorden from a hill above the harbor at Flåm )
2. Storfjorden, near Barstadvika (I think) )
3. Leaving Geirangerfjorden )
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2016-07-22 12:56 pm

Dear NFE writer

First, thank you! I'm looking forward to this so much, and I hope you're having fun writing.

As for what I like and don't like, mostly the answer is "it depends." At the moment I'm looking for something relatively light-hearted and fun, although if you're using the Andrew Ketterly prompt I could see it going fairly dark. There are very few things I would say a flat-out no to: graphic torture; extended graphic violence; incest; rape. If you want to write about the worst impulses of human nature, then I prefer to see it leavened with loyalty, courage, and kindness. I prefer gen, but a little romance is fine.

Things I especially like:
  • world-building
  • backstory, both for characters and the world itself
  • underdogs
  • characters being in character (acknowledging that people's interpretations of the same character differ)
  • a world that feels rich and real
  • unexpected or incongruous friendships
  • romance that goes against gender and/or sex stereotypes
  • actually, anything that goes against gender and/or sex stereotypes
  • snappy dialog
  • non-sentimentalized parent-child relationships
  • cultural complexity
  • political complexity
  • characters working through difficult problems
  • mythology and folklore
  • slice of life stories
  • things I wouldn't think of myself (like what? I don't know!)
Most of all, I hope you write a story that you like and that makes you happy.
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2016-06-23 05:12 pm

Comments and critiques

I had a slightly weird interaction on AO3 just now. I wrote a comment on a story saying "I don't usually like this sort of thing, but I'll make an exception." The author responded that she knew I meant it as a compliment, but that it was a rude compliment.

In retrospect, I can see that "i'll make an exception" could come off as obnoxious, as though I'm condescending to enjoy the story, but all I meant was that the author got me to enjoy something that I ordinarily don't enjoy.

Anyway, I apologized and s/he replied that it was no big deal, but I thought the whole thing was kind of weird. 
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2016-06-23 04:53 pm

This Year's Plum Harvest

We had a bumper crop this year, probably due to the relativelwet winter followed by a very warm spring. The plums started ripening about a week earlier than last year, as well.

Total harvest: 96 lbs. The tree produced over 100 pounds of fruit, but there are some branches that I leave to the neighbors since they hang over on their side of the fence. We had some fallen and squirrel-eaten plums as well.

Total produce:

Frozen Plums: 6 quarts
Plum Liqueur: 4 liters (or more; won't know exactly until I decant it)
Plum Chutney: 3.5 pints
Plum Syrup: 10 pints (I use it as a base for drinks, sorbet, and gelato)
Plain Plum Jelly: 3.5 pints
Plum Butter: 6 pints
Plum Jelly with Pinot Noir: 4 pints

The pinot noir jelly didn't gel the first time, so I had to redo it this morning. Usually I don't add pectin, but I did on the second round. It's still not jelling perfectly, but I can live with a soft jelly, so I have decided that I'm officially done with canning for the year.

In case you're wondering why I use different units of measurement, it has to do with the containers I use for different types of preserves.

I also made two plum cobblers (and will probably make another tonight) and a batch of sorbet

I gave away about 30-40 pounds of fruit. I still have at least 10 pounds in my fridge; thus the need to make a cobbler.

I didn't make any jam this year, but made more syrup than usual. There's only so much plum jam/jelly/butter our family can eat and give away in a year, and we still have a few jars left from last year. Also, I'm sure that some of our friends may appreciate something other than jam at Christmas.
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2016-06-01 09:45 pm


Of interest to fans of LOTR and/or Narnia (and xkcd-type humor):
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2016-03-16 10:32 pm


On Monday I saw a pair of Hooded Orioles nesting in the palm in our front yard. We have orioles every year, though I have no way of knowing whether it's the same pair. There are many signs of nesting hereabouts: a pair of crows collecting twigs in our back yard, a mockingbird singing in the bottle brush tree, Mourning Doves cooing, hummingbirds quarreling (they are very territorial, especially the males).

The Hooded Orioles are my favorites, though. The male is a brilliant yellow-orange with black wings, tail, and mask. Very striking indeed! The female is a more sober pale yellow and gray, but also very pretty.

And yes, I know I other parts of the country it's still winter. We have barely had a winter in California this year; we've a reasonable amount of precipitation, for a change, but it's been extremely warm. Today our family had bread, salad, cold cuts for dinner (one of our standard summer meals) because I was too hot and sweaty to feel like cooking.
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2016-03-03 12:52 pm

Reading, writing, Part 1

I haven't been writing very much lately; just haven't felt like it. But I've been doing a lot of reading and I have a few things to say about some of what I've been reading. I've broken it into two posts. This post is about some very troubling criminal justice issues.

CW: Rape, rape culture, abuse of police authority. (But also: competent, dedicated police officers doing their jobs.)

More under the cut. )
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2016-01-06 07:14 pm

New Year's Thoughts

Here is a picture of a Pharaoh Cuttlefish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you look closely, you may be able to discern some eggs hanging from the underside of the rock above the cuttlefish. (Look just above the cuttlefish's eye; the eggs are whitish, translucent, and hang point-downward.)

The new year started off well, with a party, a friend's wedding, and a fun trip to Monterey. Filia and her friends were allowed to stay up until midnight. They toasted the new year and jumped on bubble wrap to celebrate. But by Sunday evening I was developing the cold, and so it's been hard to get going on some of my resolutions for the new year. I've got a lot of "to-do" to catch up with, and right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it. I hope the new year will seem a little more exciting in a few days.