Jul. 25th, 2016 02:09 pm
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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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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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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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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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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.


Jun. 1st, 2016 09:45 pm
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Of interest to fans of LOTR and/or Narnia (and xkcd-type humor):



Mar. 16th, 2016 10:32 pm
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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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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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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.


Dec. 31st, 2015 06:48 pm
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I meant to post this earlier, but I've been a little draggy for the last week. However, I got my Costis fic, and it's a ton of fun! You should go read it, although if you haven't read the series it may not make a whole lot of sense.

The Most Convenient Natural Disaster (5320 words) by Prinzenhasserin
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Queen's Thief - Megan Whalen Turner
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Attolia/Eugenides (Queen's Thief)
Characters: Costis (Queen's Thief), Eugenides (Queen's Thief), Aristogiton, Attolia (Queen's Thief), Aulus, Legarus the Awesomely Beautiful, Heiro
Additional Tags: Pirates, Canon Compliant, Yuletide, Action/Adventure, Costis-centric, Mythology - Freeform

or 'Ships at a Distance'

"Costis," his King said, "I have never asked, but... How do you feel about boats?"
Between Attolia getting the King it deserves, and Sounis getting the King it needs; there is time for Eugenides to roam the sea. Costis, haunted by Mede and strange voices, regrets everything.

As for my own story, see the link below, but if you haven't read I Capture the Castle or seen the movie, there are major spoilers for the book in it, so I have left out some of the headers just in case you are spoiler averse. Also, if you haven't read I Capture the Castle, what is wrong with you? Go read it now. If you've seen the movie and not read the book, don't let the movie put you off.

Treed (2857 words) by Transposable_Element
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply

Happy New Year to all!
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Filia's Christmas Cactus bloomed right on time!

I Survived

Dec. 19th, 2015 01:31 pm
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 ...a slumber party for six 8-10-year-olds, including two sets of twins. Filia's annual birthday/pizza/Minecraft/pancake breakfast sleepover party!


Unlike two years ago nobody threw up, and unlike last year nobody woke up in the middle of the night and decided to walk home (half a block).

Behavior was mostly acceptable, but I did finally lose my temper at one of the half-a-block-away twins as I was trying to get her packed up and out the door an hour after the party was supposed to end. She claimed to be unable to fold the air mattress that she had brought with her and sat there on the couch regally reading a Garfield book while I wrestled with the mattress. When I was finished, we had the following conversation:

Me: I really don't understand why you're behaving this way. [Repeat several times until she looks up from her book.]
Her: What way?
Me: Well, you expect me to do everything for you. You don't offer to help. You never say please or thank you. And you ignore me except when you want something.
Her: Oh. Well I'm reading right now.
Me: Pack up the rest of your things and go home now.

I managed not to raise my voice. Honestly, I've been wondering whether to say something to her parents for a while now. This child's sister isn't quite as bad, but they are both very demanding and ungrateful, as well as incredibly whiny and prone to bursting into tears when they don't get their way (earlier she had pitched a fit over the proper way to distribute the pinata spoils). Filia's behavior isn't perfect, but she is better about please and thank you, she rarely whines, and she is generally good-natured. She's more than a year older, but even at their age she was a lot less selfish and rude. The other set of twins, who are about the same age as the neighbor twins, behaved beautifully and were very polite.

Interesting statistics:

Among the six girls, there were a total of three birthdays. The only other singleton besides Filia has the same birthday but is a year younger.

There were also a total of three first initials: three R, two M, one A.

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Filia: One of my books is missing! Call the authorities!
Me: What authorities?


Me: Why are you tying my hair in knots?
Filia: I'm not tying your hair in knots. I'm tying your hair in knots around a kitten. [note: stuffed kitten]
Me: What?
Filia: Mean mommy. Won't even let a kitten dangle in her hair.
Me: Filia, get this kitten out of my hair...
Filia: It wants to bungie jump.
Me: What?
[kitten is detached]
Me: Uh oh, the cord broke.
Filia: Yeah, but I caught it in time.


Filia, upon discovering that I had put some of her artworks away in the garage: But those are some of my finest pieces!


Filia: I have a severe and deeply ingrained case of insomnia.
Filia's piano teacher: She has quite a way with words!


Filia: Moooom? [light turns on in hallway; sound of footsteps]
Maritus [sotto voce] Damn...
Me [pause]: Sweetie, go back to bed.
Filia: What's going on?
Me: Um, nothing sweetie. Don't come in here. Just go back to sleep.
Filia: But what's going on? Why were you making so much noise? You woke me up.
Me: Nothing's wrong, sweetie. We were just... having fun.
Filia: But what were you doing?
Me: Let's discuss it in the morning. I'm sorry we woke you up.
Maritus: Go to bed, Filia. And turn off the light....
Filia: Well...okay. [footsteps, hall light goes off]
Maritus: Whew!

found haiku

Dec. 9th, 2015 12:33 pm
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This morning my sister made a post on Facebook. A friend of hers commented "that's almost a haiku," so I removed six words and a punctuation mark to make it into one:

Six at the bus stop
Staring into their phones.
I make it seven.

I like it because it fulfills more of the haiku tradition than just the 5/7/5 syllable pattern: it captures a brief moment, and it has a nice pause/twist/change of mood between the second and third lines.To be really traditional it would have to refer to nature or the seasons, but you can't have everything. I suppose you could take the whole thing as a reference to flock or herd behavior.

It's also self-referential, if you assume that she was posting it right at that moment.
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Maritus took this about a week ago when we were returning from
bird-watching. The duck in the foreground is most likely a Northern
Shoveler, but there were also lots of Ruddy Ducks on the lake that day.
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 Filia is learning to play the recorder. She is practicing doggedly, which is good (she has a distressing tendency to give up too quickly when things get difficult). Still, the squeaks and squwaks are getting to me.
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Mostly just thinking "aloud." Originally I rot-13ed the rest of this message so as not to inadvertently give anything away to any of my many fans, but then I realized it was kinder to put most of it under a cut. So only the first little spoiler is in rot-13. :-)  Decrypt at rot13.com
V tbg n erdhrfg sbe n svp nobhg V Pncgher gur Pnfgyr, fb vs lbh unira'g ernq vg (be frra gur zbivr) naq jvfu sbe ab fcbvyref, tb ab shegure!
Read more... )
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Welp. This should be interesting....

I did say "any character," but I have to admit this wasn't what I was expecting!

*girds loins*
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