Specifically to the splendid shiny new Books Are Magic, which has an amazing children's section complete with big bean bags and a squishy couch to sit on. I recommend it highly.
Kit was very serious and focused on the subway, the way they are in new situations. grahamsleight was with us and kept trying to get their attention, but they were too focused on absorbing all information from the surroundings. But when they saw the books, they lit up with delight. They've been to libraries, and of course at home they're surrounded by bookshelves. They understand bookshelves.
They zoomed over to the shelf of board books and picked out some familiar ones before looking at the rest. After a little while of watching them pick books up and drop them and bang them on other books, Graham said "Kit, look!" and rotated the revolving rack of Little Golden Books.
So then they pulled down some books and rotated the rack and that was fun. They were very puzzled by the Little Golden Books being so thin and would grab several at a time, thinking they were one book.
Eventually they went back to the board books. They liked grabbing multiple copies of a single title and waving them all around. They turned pages in a book they'd never seen before, got to a (fairly crude) drawing of a kid in a bath, and signed "bath". I nearly fainted. The other day I saw them turn to a book page that shows people dancing and start doing their adorable chair-boogie dance, but it was a familiar book. This was completely new. MY BABY UNDERSTANDS SEMIOTICS. WHAT.
(I later had some deeper thoughts about how if Kit can look at a picture that looks nothing like bathtime at our house and still understand it as "bath", that makes it all the more imperative to show them books about kids and families of all kinds so that they internalize broad concepts of "happy kid" and "family", and that ended with me buying two board books about kids with same-sex parents and emailing Rebecca Sugar via Cartoon Network Books to ask whether she could make a Steven Universe board book that shows Steven and his amazing loving cobbled-together family.)
kissane and dailyjuna joined us, and Graham read books to the kids (who were impossibly good together) while Erin and I kvelled. Kit spotted a little chair and pushed it all over the place. They repeatedly tried to go behind the counter. (I told them "You don't work here yet.") We eventually decamped to 61 Local, where Kit tried to drink some of my orange juice and had a remarkably contained meltdown when the noise got to be too much. As soon as I took them outside they quieted down, and they stayed very chill on the bus and home. What a good Brooklyn baby.
Every time I wear them in the front carrier, people express amazement, because they are enormous and I am small. But it was so nice to be able to just go up and down stairs instead of wrestling with the stroller and have them "on my lap" when I sat down instead of needing to take the backpack on and off (which is really tricky in transit), and my arms are very grateful to my hips and knees for taking the load. As soon as they can walk up and down stairs with help, the subway will be much more manageable with the stroller: it folds up small and slings over my shoulder, and that frees me to hold their hand on the steps. But carrying both stroller and baby is just impossible for me, I don't want to rely on strangers to not drop my baby down a flight of stairs, and most stations don't have elevators. So in the meantime, I'm building up leg and core strength. Maybe I should start working out again.
NB: The license is provided for 1 year.
The photo above showing Mount Etna at left center was captured while flying from Catania (Sicily) to Rome on February 20, 2017. It's seen here aside a mid-level cloud deck just as morning was breaking. Etna, at 10,922 ft (3,329 m) is the highest volcano in Europe and one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
The reddish strip at top is the Belt of Venus (Aphrodite). It results when sunlight, reddened by the increased path length of the low Sun, is scattered off the setting Earth's shadow -- the dark band below the Belt of Venus (just above Etna on the photo). According to Greek mythology, Hephaestus was the artisan and the smith of gods. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, was his wife. They're featured together in this composition. The ancient Greeks and Sicilians believed that Hephaestus had both his abode and his forge under the Etna volcano and that the eruptions were the proof of his mighty work.
Photo Details: Camera Maker: Apple; Camera Model: iPhone 5s; Lens: iPhone 5s back camera 4.15mm f/2.2; Focal Length: 4.15mm (35mm equivalent: 29mm); Aperture: ƒ/2.2; Exposure Time: 0.020 s (1/50); ISO equiv: 50; Software: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5 (Windows).
2. We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 tonight and it was so good! I liked the first one a lot, but this one was even better. ( SO MANY FEELS ) But yeah, this movie was pretty great.
3. We also went to Cheesecake Factory afterwards and got nachos (to eat there) and cheesecake (to bring home).
4. Sweet Molly!
The last is a real concern. I live in a very dry city that varies between extreme heat and uncomfortable levels of cold. Our rainy season is a joke. I've lived in extremely cold places in the US and Canada. They've been dry on the whole. I've also lived in the UK briefly, but that's a manageable level of 'keep an umbrella handy and wear waterproof shoes' wet. I have NO idea what to do in tropical climates experiencing proper monsoon. Between the flooding and the heat and the mosquitoes, and the sense that umbrellas will function as merely an ineffectual layer of plastic between one and the all-pervading moisture, I'm baffled. Also, I hate hate hate humid wet heat. Dry heat is fine; put me in 43 degrees Celsius and I'll whine but I know what to do, even without air conditioning, even without electricity: drink a lot of water, sweat freely, cover my head, stay in the shade, and if possible, spray the ground with water periodically to settle dust and cool things off temporarily. But when it's humid, I'm sticky, sweaty, hot—and can't do anything about it! Even air conditioning only does so much. Urgh.
Speaking of rain, it's been unseasonably wet here, with two thunderstorms in a week, and one the week before, during what should be the hottest, driest, worst part of the summer. It's hard to complain, but it's worrying that the weather is so out of joint. Also, leaking roofs are not things anyone is prepared to tackle in May. I think it's a blockage in the drain that's causing seepage rather than anything worse, but it seemed like a good idea to call the plumber; he sounded utterly blank because he's gone to his village in Rajasthan, not anticipating such work for another couple of months at least. At this point I talked to my landlady, who was also bemused, but she'll send someone to climb up and see what the problem is, and if it's just a blocked drain, it can be cleaned out, hopefully.
Anyway. I bought waterproof sandals, a thin rain jacket with hood that niftily folds into a pouch (the thing I like best about it is that when unfolded, the pouch becomes a zipped pocket; such a useful thing to have in the rain), and a pair of not-skin-tight leggings that are supposed to dry quickly. I also booked flights and Air BnBs, sorted out fish-feeding and plant-watering for all but two days of the trip, and put the garden in order. so things seem mostly on track.
( Gardening (and pics) )
My mother seems to think I'm an elephant. This is how much fruit she imagines (insists) I can eat, alone, in four days. I am trying to persuade colleagues at work to take some off my hands...
Putin looks so suspicious of Macron's hand (not without reason), while Macron is all "PUT IT HERE PAL, I AM SO READY FOR THIS."
For background on this deeply serious issue (and close-ups of the Macron-Trump handshake), see:
The Guardian: The Trump handshake: how world leaders are fighting back
Round the world, I imagine national leaders sitting at their desks covertly squeezing Captains of Crush grippers.
Bitchery, we are so excited to bring you a giveaway and an excerpt for the upcoming romantic suspense The Chase by Vanessa Fewings! Elyse, Sarah, and I are all really jazzed about this romance between an art investigator and an enigmatic billionaire.
Will she risk it all for a priceless desire?
A rising star in one of London’s top art investigation firms, Zara Leighton’s talent for seeing deep into paintings is in her blood. She’s chosen to help track down Icon, an enigmatic international art thief whose heists are methodical, daring, baffling. To Zara the case is maddening—bordering on an obsession.
She finds distraction in the chiseled form of top-shelf client Tobias Wilder, a magnetic American billionaire who demands her expertise, her discretion—and her secrecy. Wilder doesn’t ask questions. He gives orders. His gaze alone ignites her deepest fantasies. And his touch…
The sudden whirl of exclusive exhibitions and decadent parties that Wilder introduces her to is a potent aphrodisiac. But surrender soon becomes tinged with suspicion. Is Zara’s tryst with Wilder the real thing…or just a convincing forgery?
The Chase is out June 6, 2017 from HQN Books and it’s the first book in The ICON Trilogy.
As I’d taken in—or at least tried with the perception of a ten-year-old—the brilliance of that French artist on that century-aged painting, I’d sensed life would never be the same.
I’d known in the depths of my soul art would always be my one true love.
Tonight, I’d been so fazed about coming here that I’d forgotten to wear a coat that would have offset the chill of a London autumn and the cold temperature the gallery was kept at to preserve its treasures within.
Art galleries were quiet places with hushed whispers as respectful visitors paid homage to the genius of artists who’d left their indelible mark. Many of these painters had languished in poverty even after giving so much. As a child I’d always wanted to travel back in time to watch them work and tell them their talent had been worth all they’d sacrificed.
My stilettos clicked along the marble uncomfortably loudly as I neared Madame Rose Récamier. She’d hung in my bedroom and watched over me for years.
Stepping closer, my gaze roamed over her, marveling at those pristine strokes giving Rose a stunning realism.
I gave the softest sigh.
The year was 1803 when Jacques Momar had captured a moment in time with this Parisian socialite and, as I trailed my fingers through my auburn locks, I recalled how I’d wanted to be her. Chestnut irises, we had that in common, but her fiery gaze reflected a life of daring—one she’d chosen to live on her terms. Madame Rose Récamier had been known for her love of neoclassical fashion and her controversial interest in politics. She’d stunned Paris with her tenacity. Her reputation to enamor with her smart wit and intelligence had been expressed so beautifully as she reclined on that satin chaise lounge, her head thrown back and her gaze held firmly on the artist Monsieur Momar. In her expression there was love. As time went on I’d realized that look proved an affair had transpired between them. The kind of passion I’d only ever read about.
I saw something I’d never noticed before—uncertainty—the emotion starkly vivid and painfully real.
In his will my father had left Madame Récamier to me. And now I was leaving her here.
“She’s haunting,” Clara whispered, shaking me from my daydream. It was just like her to know I needed a few moments alone with Rose to say goodbye.
It felt comforting having my best friend here.
No matter how many months went by without seeing Clara, it felt like mere minutes had passed between us. She’d always come through for me, and I for her.
Her diamante-crystal, halter-neck dress made her look gorgeous, as always. She had a couple of inches on me and her thick blond curls were a contrast to my long auburn hair. Her high cheekbones were a reflection of the confidence that had helped her succeed as an advertising photographer. Her voluptuousness was a contrast to my smaller curvy figure. “Rubinesque,” she’d called herself, which matched her vibrant personality, and her bright eyes and warm smile were always welcome in my world that always seemed more complicated than hers.
As if sensing I needed it, she came over now to give me a hug. “She’s beautiful.” Clara squeezed me into her side.
“First time I saw her I was wearing my favorite floral dress.” I rested my head on Clara’s shoulder for a moment. “Red shoes. I loved those shoes.”
“Oh, Zara, this was a good decision.”
“Yes. She’s meant to be here.”
She paused for a moment and studied me as though careful with her words. “What about the others?”
The three other paintings we’d saved that night…
Flames rising from our house and licking the air with those monstrous oranges and reds; a hellish glow…
The stench of toxic smoke in my clothes. My hair. My skin. My doll lost to the flames.
Stubbornly, I shook my head not wanting to remember anything more about that night.
“There was always this sense we were protecting Madame Rose by hiding her away.”
Now it was time to step away.
Let it all go. And move on.
“You okay?” came Clara’s reassurance.
I nodded to let her know I was.
It was behind me now, all that grief of dealing with the complex issues of my father’s estate and those endless meetings with softly spoken solicitors where coffee was my only friend. And those journalists who’d begged for a scoop on what plans I had to take the Leighton family legacy into the twenty-first century.
I had no real plans for anything, not really.
Other than settling into my new career. Moving on felt cathartic.
Clara tutted. “Dreadful thing.”
Shaken back into the room, I asked, “What is?”
“No one’s reckless enough to steal from a gallery. Not with all this.” She peered up at one of the discreet cameras.
She was referring to that theft in Chelsea, a portrait by Henry Raeburn had been stolen from a private estate.
“You’re right,” I agreed.
She patted my arm. “You’ll sleep better knowing she’s here.”
“You don’t think it’s connected to what happened in France, do you?”
Rumors had reached the community that some of the wealthiest families in Paris had suffered at the hands of an art thief and that news had set the city’s private dealers and their customers on edge.
“Let’s get some bubbly.” Clara led me back down the hallway. “You have some hobnobbing to do with these art-loving crazies.”
“Thank you for being here.”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
I forced myself not to look back.
Making our way down the hallway we continued to admire the collection, pausing here and there until I sensed Clara’s restlessness.
“That’s a nice blouse,” she said. “Gold brings out your eyes.”
I tugged on my pencil skirt. “Marks and Spencer.”
“I thought you were going to say some posh designer. You’re getting close to that birthday.”
Which was Clara’s tactful way of saying my inheritance would kick in on the eve of my twenty-third birthday. Pride had turned my thoughts away from it but these rising costs of living in London had me rethinking that. The idea of having to decide what to do with fifteen million pounds made me nervous. That decision wouldn’t come until next year and I still had time to nudge that thought far away.
A wave of guilt settled in my gut that my inheritance came from my father’s will. I spun round to face Clara. “I got the job!”
“What? Why didn’t you call me?”
“I wanted to tell you in person.”
“Oh, darling, that’s wonderful!”
“I’m officially a forensic art specialist at Huntly Pierre.”
I’d landed my dream job at a high-end firm in the middle of The Strand, and I couldn’t wait to start.
“Zara, that’s wonderful.” She leaped forward and hugged me. “I’m so excited.”
Years of studying art and I was finally being let loose.
“They know about your dad’s penchant for collecting priceless art, then?”
“No, I got this on my own merit.” I lowered my brow, hoping my family name of Leighton wouldn’t follow me around forever. “Have a knack for detecting forgeries apparently.”
Within the texture lies the truth.
Everything Dad knew he’d taught me; an education like no other. It wasn’t only studying at the Courtauld that had given me the talent for knowing the difference between an Uccello and a Masaccio, but my education had begun when my father had instilled in me his rare insight into art before I could even walk, hoping I’d follow in his footsteps.
“It’s in my blood.”
She winked. “The commission you’ll make when you confirm a piece is real should be quite something. These things are worth a fortune.”
“You can’t place a value on pieces like this,” I said wistfully, admiring Constant Troyon’s oil on canvas A Clump of Trees, with its soothing layers of greens and yellows. “For the first time I feel like I’m putting my knowledge to good use.”
“You know what else needs to be in your blood? Booze. More specifically, champagne.” We laughed too loudly as we neared the lift.
Standing back a little, I watched Clara hit the down button and the silver doors slid open. Peering inside that gaping chasm of metal, I felt my haunting phobia of lifts returning, the light inside flickered to taunt me, and my feet refused to move forward as that familiar fear swept over me.
Terror spiked my veins. “Let’s take the stairs.”
She raised her left foot to show off her heels. “I’ll break my neck.”
“Zara.” She sounded baffled.
“Meet you down there.”
“This is why you have great legs,” her voice echoed after me. “You’re always taking the stairs.”
Her laughter followed me down the stairwell.
I peeled off each shoe and in stockinged feet burst through the fire escape door. I descended fast, round and round, counting the floors as I went.
Breathing in the chilled air, I rekindled the feeling that what I’d done tonight was one of my better decisions. Clara was right. The security was great and the responsibility of protecting all of Dad’s other pieces would soon be lifted as they made their way here.
It made me happy to think of other people getting to enjoy them too, and my feet flew down with a bounce in my step.
With a shove on the security rail I pushed open the heavy fire door and went on through into the dimly lit hallway.
Realizing I’d gone too far I turned to go back. The door was locked from this side.
As if right on cue my garter belt snapped off my thigh-high stocking and I hurried onward to find somewhere private to fix it.
My feet carried me away from the lift and along the hallway. At the end was a door stamped with a sign: Staff Only.
I went on in and saw the long mirror right in front of me. I neared it and gave myself a reassuring smile. I looked pretty tonight and was actually a little less geeky than usual, having switched out my cardigan and flat heels for my favorite gold silk blouse and black skirt and even my hair was miraculously behaving. After putting my shoes down, I eased up my hem and attempted to reattach my stocking top.
My fingers slipped so I hiked my skirt higher to better work the intricate reclipping. With that accomplished, I straightened my eggshell-blue high rise panties.
And then I spotted a movement across the room—
I yanked my skirt down, my mouth forming words of apology but failing to say them. I bent over to scoop up my shoes and rushed toward the door, my hand reaching round to neaten my skirt.
Oh no, my hem still exposed my bum.
Cheeks reddening further as I grappled with the unreasonable material and sucked up my embarrassment so I could throw a wave of apology to the stranger.
My gaze fixed on the living, breathing sculpture.
Making it to the door, I tried to force my stare away from the strikingly beautiful specimen of a man who was looking at me with a mixture of surprise and delight.
Finally exhaling, I was riveted by his sun-kissed torso with its finely chiseled abs, his black trousers low and revealing a hint of a V. An intricate tattoo on his left upper arm that vaguely reminded me of a Polynesian design, with its swirls in black ink and an image in the center.
My heartbeat quickened as I searched my memory for where I knew him from. I was awestruck by this breathtaking Adonis, who was reaching for a white shirt hanging on the back of a chair. He was tall and devastatingly handsome in a rugged kind of way. Thirty, maybe? Those short, dark golden locks framing a gorgeous face, his three-day stubble marking him with a tenacious edge and that thin wry smile exuding a fierce confidence. His green irises were a startling contrast to his lightly tanned complexion; his intense, steady glare stayed on mine as he calmly pulled his arm through a sleeve and covered that tattoo before I could make out more.
A gasp caught in my throat as it came to me that we’d never actually met, probably because this was Tobias William Wilder, a billionaire. He moved in the kind of refined circles one would expect from a business magnate and inventor who owned TechRule, one of the largest software companies in the world.
And I’d given this playboy mogul his very own peep show.
He’d popped up on my radar a year ago when I’d read an article on him in Cosmo, featuring his Los Angeles–based art gallery, The Wilder. It was an acclaimed museum that was one of the most prestigious in the world and it was also right up there on my wish list to visit.
Wilder was even more dazzling in person.
I’d imagined one day I might bump into him with the art world being relatively small, but never had I imagined a scenario as racy as this.
Why the hell hadn’t I worn my sexy panties?
“I’m looking for the stairs,” I managed.
“That way.” His refined American accent felt like another blow to my reason.
That alpha-maleness made him look like he’d just returned from a dangerous adventure in the Himalayas or even the jungles of Peru—
Where he’d spent his days hunting in the wilderness, or naked while fishing in a fast-running stream, and then making a campfire at night with those elegant hands, and then saving his friends from beasties that attacked our campsite.
His smile reached his eyes. A blush burned my cheeks.
He arched an eyebrow, amused.
Was he mocking me?
“I was looking for a signal.” I broke my gaze to hide my lie. “For my phone. You know, WiFi.”
“Try the foyer. It’s a security issue.”
“I know that.” Which made no damn sense.
It was impossible to think straight because someone had made the executive decision to suck out all the oxygen from the room, or so it felt.
With a tug of his shirt he hid that other tattoo to the right of his lower abdomen, a Latin inscription leading to his groin immortalized in italic black ink.
“Excuse the—” he gestured to his state of undress “—I’m running late.”
This kind of manly perfection obviously knew just how beautiful he was, the way he blinked at me casually, the way he firmly weaved that bow tie around his collar without using a mirror and making quick work of forming that silk into a neat knot, and all the while his eyes not leaving mine.
Until I dragged my gaze from his to look around the room. On a table close by to him rested a black motorcycle helmet with its tinted visor down. Leather gloves beside it.
He moved with a sophisticated elegance that had me doubting I’d caught his body inked so seductively. A waft of expensive musky cologne reached me with its sensuous allure and did something crazy to my body. Trembling slightly, I shifted my gait and leaned further back against the door, spellbound.
Nature might have bestowed this man with the ability to leave a trail of heartbreak in his sexy-arse wake but it had also provided me with the ability to detect danger.
“You might want to put some clothes on,” I said firmly.
“Well, now I’m dressed.”
Yes, he was, and this was a changing room, apparently, and I’d not exactly represented a pillar of virtue.
“Well that’s good.” I swallowed my pride. “Please keep it that way.”
His gaze lowered to my feet.
And I remembered my strappy stilettos were flirtatiously dangling from my left hand, those spiked heels hinting at a sexy side I wished I had.
Intrigue marred his face, and then his expression softened again as his jade gaze returned to hold mine and he broke into a heart-stopping smile.
The seductive dazzling kind that threatened to melt my panties. I left in a rush—
Shaken with just how this man had affected me merely with a smile, my heart racing, I reconsidered risking the lift to take me as far away from him as possible. Embarrassment scorched my cheeks and made me glad I’d not worn a coat.
Taking a second, I leaned against the wall and stared back.
That alluring inked-up vision had taken my mind off the reason I was here. I felt an inexplicable need to run back in and continue to bathe in the aura of the most enigmatic man I’d ever met.
I want to know so much more about Zara! And Tobias!
We also have two (2) signed copies of The Chase to give away to two lucky readers!
Standard disclaimers apply: We’re not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and ready for a jet-setting international adventure. Don’t be distracted by the flowing, beachy waves of Venus in The Birth of Venus or the rock hard …assets of Michelangelo’s David. Comments will close Friday 2 June 2017 and winner announced same day.
Ready to enter? Seeing as Zara will soon be hunting down an art thief, tell us your favorite thieves in entertainment! Books, movies, the sky’s the limit!
One of the things that became clear when I asked for suggestions as to questions to ask assisted living facilities is that a lot of people have no idea what an assisted living facility is, and were answering thinking of nursing homes. This confusion is endemic. Neither tn3270 nor I understood the distinctions before we started looking into it; even his mother, D – who had been the person who asked us to find her a place – didn't understand how different an assisted living facility is from a nursing home. Not until she first set foot in one, a few weeks ago.
As those following this journal know, tn3270 and I have been shopping assisted living facilities for D for most of the last two months. I started writing this four hours after returning from the first "short list" tour of an assisted living residence – the first time we returned to one and brought D with us to check it out for herself. Over lunch – a complementary lunch visit is a typical second-step of the assisted living shopping experience – I asked D if it was like what she had imagined. No. Not even a little bit. She thought it would be like the rehab she had been in after breaking her hip, or the nursing homes her sisters were in. Her mind was (favorably) blown.
So I thought I would do a public service and try to share that experience with my readers, to edify you as to the differences.
At least in Massachusetts. Readers, be cautioned: I literally have no idea how universal these terms are, or whether they mean the same thing everywhere. This is how things are here. How they are where you are, if you are not here, I do not know.
Since apparently more people have far more experience with nursing homes and rehabs (for reasons that will become apparent below) – and since a lot of people don't necessarily know whether facilities they've visited or been nursing homes or something else (they were probably nursing homes) – I thought I'd start there.
( Read More [4,980 Words] )
This post brought to you by the 134 readers who funded my writing it – thank you all so much! You can see who they are at my Patreon page. If you're not one of them, and would be willing to chip in so I can write more things like this, please do so there.
Please leave comments on the Comment Catcher comment, instead of the main body of the post – unless you are commenting to get a copy of the post sent to you in email through the notification system, then go ahead and comment on it directly. Thanks!
I miss everyone I saw at Wiscon, but I am so glad to be home.
Three times this Wiscon I was in the audience when the moderator opened it up for questions and there was silence. Which persisted until I stuck my hand up and asked something weird and stupid, which I probably should have though better of, but 1. it was the best I could think of at the time and 2. it was better than nothing. And it was followed by better questions after I broke the ice. The first time was A Room Of One's Own, after the GOH readings. Maybe everyone was intimidated by Kelly Sue Conway? She is really funny, you guys.
Amal El-Mohtar read us a story that included the lines, if I remember correctly, "You are a Great Horned Owl. You are an apex predator. You are a terrible parent." I was surprised, because Great Horneds are notoriously very nurturing parents. They'll keep on feeding their fully-fledged adult-sized offspring until it's time to start preparing for the next clutch. Amal said, "So I should change that metaphor to something about trust fund babies?"
Amal was right that they are terrible nest-builders, though, which is one reason why we get a lot of Great Horned babies at the raptor center. If the babies are uninjured and the tree is intact, we will nail up a wicker laundry basket and return the babies, and the parents are usually still hanging around looking for babies to feed. And they'll keep using the laundry basket every year because it's the best nest they've ever had.
by Dialecticdreamer/Sarah Williams
part 1 of 1
word count (story only): 1214
:: A teaser story, potentially the start of a short series, set in the Schrodinger's Heroes universe. For those new to the universe, the “white cat” is a spoiler, sorry. If you'd like more, let me know!::
It was just past one in the morning when Wendy's careful plans burned to ash in a fiery conflagration of bad luck, betrayed trust, and wildly intrusive government regulations.
Well, she couldn't exclude the cat, either. He had woken her, yowling persistently. As she had stumbled over him, literally, a white beam of light cut through the darkness. Crouched over the cat twining between her legs, her knuckles white as she gripped the foot board of her narrow twin bed, she caught a slanted glimpse of a black all-terrain vehicle with a rack of spotlights on the roof.
And two men dressed in black.
And a rifle rack mounted in the cab behind their heads.
( Read more... )
(Does anyone else get kind of high on a second cup of coffee? Like your brain goes a little floaty.)
The 1-6 tooth (with the root canal) is feeling vaguely 'fizzy' again. I'm not sure it's ever going to feel 'normal' again. I'm also getting mild aches in the head again, and the right foot is again feeling very sensitive.
I'm chalking all this up to playing hockey - increased sensitivity in one part buzzing all the pain and sensitivity channels in the rest of my body. It's still a little disturbing, and kind of exhausting.
Parentals are home on Friday, B1 will probably move back in that night. It will be nice to have someone else in the house again.
And then I offered to cook dinner on Saturday...
Australian Populism: What If Australia already had its Trump moment...and it was Tony Abbott?
Perhaps not all is lost?
Mind you, Australia is very different to the rest of 'the West' - ocean borders, a much younger nationalistic identity and therefore not as entrenched, a western country in a very non-white region, and one of the most urban populations in the world with corresponding intermingling of culture and influx of immigrants. As a result, the reasons that populism has perhaps passed are not necessarily going to be replicated in Europe and the North Americas.
Sydney Writer's Festival: Six Things We Learned
1. "On Such Small Things Do Fate And The Future Depend": Hitler, Drugs, the Third Reich, And The Movement Of Mussolini.
2. "Not What You Can Write, But How Do You Write It?": A white man writes a story about a black man raping a white woman and hands it in to his black Lit teacher. It's gonna be a long discussion class tomorrow...
3. "The Immigrant And The Xenophobe Are Close Cousins When It Comes To The Concept Of Refuge": is refuge what we seek or what we defend? Is refuge a refuge if it isn't exclusionary by nature and therefore sought?
4. "The White Gaze And Review Culture": White people can review anything, but Indigenous reviewers are only relevant when it's Indigenous culture.
5. "As Many Brits Living Outside Of Britain as Syrians Living Outside Of Syria": facts and the distortion of them for false inference.
6. "There's Always Someone In The Audience Who Wants To Get Their Id Out In Public": #NotAllAudienceQuestions
Racism: Poisonous Racism At The Root Of Western Societies
“This is my history too,” Tempest continued, her voice shaky. “I’m living it, it’s happening. We are at the end of colonial history, British history. I want to say something to you, I want to be able to talk about it. Guilt is not good enough any more. Guilt is narcissism. Your guilt is about you. My guilt is about me. It’s not good enough.
“Empathy. Empathy, humility, reparation and change,” she urged.
Signing up indicates that you will receive emails for all of our beta reader notifications. Please let us know if you no longer wish to receive our emails.
( Read more... )
Aaron's method is based on three cornerstones: knowledge, time, and enthusiasm.
By knowledge, Aaron means you should know what you're going to write before you write it. This doesn't just mean outlining in the usual sense that most writers use, but even something so simple (as she mentions) as sitting down for five minutes before your daily writing session and jotting down notes on how you want your scene to go.
I am an outliner--I outline at the chapter level because I find it almost impossible to finish stories that don't have some level of preexisting structure. (I learned this the hard way, after leaving dead story-corpses all over my hard drive and not being able to finish things for years. There's a reason my short story output per year is not great.) I rarely outline in more depth than that because I have almost never found it helpful to do so. Well, in a spirit of open-mindedness, I tried Aaron's method while working on Dragon Pearl. I spent about five minutes and worked out where I thought the scene was going to go. Within 500 words, I had gone completely off the rails, so that was pretty much a waste of time. I could have tried it again, but I know myself well enough to be pretty convinced that going off the rails would be a regular occurrence. I mean, I'm the person who tossed off Kel formation instinct almost as a throwaway worldbuilding detail only to have to practically take over the trilogy (it's a major theme and plot factor in both Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun), and a character who had not even existed in the outline for Revenant Gun ended up becoming one of the major secondary characters. So, uh, yeah. Since I'm prone to zig where I was supposed to zag, this bit of advice is not helpful to me. But it might work for you.
By time Aaron means time management--not just making the time to write, but figuring out your own writing output patterns and playing to your strengths. So if you take a couple weeks to record your wordcount output and discover that you write fastest in the evenings, then prioritize writing in the evenings. If you write best when you have several uninterrupted hours, try to arrange your life to make that possible. Things like that. This part I'm pretty comfortable with. I don't work another day job--I'm a stay-at-home parent. I can pretty much arrange my hours however I want. I'm not great at time management, but this is more a function of my terrible willpower than lack of self-knowledge.
The last bit is enthusiasm, by which she means that stuff you're genuinely enthusiastic about writing will go faster--often much faster--than stuff you're not. I have experienced this; I think many of us have. Unfortunately, this doesn't really help me. I am sitting on a weapons-grade mood disorder. My being able to sustain enthusiasm about ANYTHING for longer than a few hours is pretty much never going to happen. When I have writing projects scheduled out a couple years in advance, it's pretty hard to imagine being able to maintain any level of enthusiasm for the work to come. And, I mean, besides bipolar disorder being disruptive, I spend a lot of time depressed, including depressed about my writing. So this is just a wash.
She does have one useful insight that I've observed about my own writing (and which I wish someone had told me rather earlier), which is that when you seem "stuck" in your writing, sometimes it's because your subconscious is trying to tell you that there's a glitch in what you're currently trying to do, and you need to reconsider your approach. I have definitely had that experience--generally once I figure out a solution to the problem in the writing, the "blocked" feeling resolves itself.
Anyway, the Rachel Aarons of the world may well be able to write a decent novel draft in the twelve days that she cites, but I am never going to be able to do that. I can't sustain much more than 2,000-2,500 words per day without burning out, partly because I don't think fast, partly because writing is a painful endeavor for me. I guess I will have to be resigned to being slow and suboptimal. Her observation that you should be as excited about your writing as you want your readers to be particularly dismays me, because I spend most of my time hating my professional writing  and by this standard I'm just doomed. :/ But that's not Aaron's problem, it's mine.
 In all fairness, my fanfic isn't much better, it's just that in fanficlandia people tend to not actually leave comments if they think your fic sucks, they just leave crickets. :p
I have a strong memory of when I first decided to experiment with eating grain-free. Back in 2010 I was heavily into baking my own sourdough. This meant toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch most days.
But it also meant I often felt bloated and gross (especially after lunch). And I was finding it harder to manage my weight even though I was running 50km+ (31 miles) each week.
So after reading about the paleo diet, I decided to put my bread making addiction on hold, and experiment with this whole grain-free approach.
After trying it for a month, I was pretty happy with the results but found the lack of dairy and legumes too restrictive. So I created my own ‘almost-paleo’ way of eating with a focus on vegetables and including legumes and a little dairy.
I also decided to avoid ‘bread-like’ packaged products, even if they were ‘paleo’ and just focus on enjoying delicious real food. Simple.
To be honest I didn’t really miss bread. And when I ‘treated’ myself to a slice of amazing sourdough from one of my favourite bakers, the icky feeling afterward didn’t justify the pleasure. So I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything to avoid bread.
Then earlier in the year I came across this bread recipe using broccoli, eggs and almond meal. Since I was writing a baking book I decided to investigate.
What a revelation!
Satisfyingly bready yet also low-carb and a serve of veggies? Brilliant.
It’s been so great to have the occasional sandwich for lunch. Or a slice of avocado toast. Definitely a keeper!
Like to try more low-carb / gluten-free breads?
Then check out my new book, the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘. There’s also my ‘Life-Changing’ Cauliflower Seed Loaf, Rosemary & Almond ‘Sourdough’, Coconut Flat Breads, Low-carb Tortillas and plenty more…
To make sure you don’t miss out on the special introductory price go to:
NOTE: Special launch price available for a limited time only.
Broccoli Sandwich Bread
From the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘.
When I’m in the mood for a sandwich or a slice of toast, this is my go-to recipe. I love how something that feels and tastes quite ‘bready’ is actually a serve of vegetables. I slice and freeze so I can just defrost in the toaster as needed.
This broccoli bread does look very green, which I love but I’ve found my boys are much happier eating the white, cauliflower version instead. What is it with kids and green food?
makes: 6-8 slices
takes: about 40 minutes
500g (1lb) broccoli, 2 small
100g (3.5oz) almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F).
2. Whizz your broccoli using your food processor until it looks a bit like fine couscous. Or chop as finely as possible.
3. Add eggs, almond meal and salt to the food processor bowl. Stir with a spoon until combined.
4. Line a baking tray with baking (parchment) paper. Tip the broccoli mixture onto the lined tray then using your hands smooth into a rectangle about 1cm (1/3in) thick.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bread is slightly browned and feels firm and springy when touched.
6. Cool on the tray. Cut in half crosswise and then into 3-4 lengthwise to make 6-8 slices (or cut to your preferred size).
different quantities – the 500g (1lb) broccoli is a guideline but if you only have 400g (14oz) or up to 600g (21oz) it will be fine.
higher fiber – Add 1-2 tablespoons psyllium, oat bran, ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds (linseeds). I’ve also made it with whole linseeds.
nut-free – replace almond meal with bread crumbs, ground linseeds (flax seeds) or ground sunflower seeds. Each of these will soak up different amounts of moisture so you’ll need to be prepared for different baking times. When I made it with ground sunflower seeds the texture was wetter and it took 30 minutes.
different vegetables – cauliflower works really well. You could also replace up to half the broccoli / cauliflower with grated raw veg like carrot, beets, sweet potato, parsnip or zucchini. I wouldn’t use all root veg though.
other flavours – I like to keep this simple so my sandwich flavours come through but you could play around with some grated parmsean, garlic or chopped herbs.
Shelf Life / Storage
Will keep in the fridge for a week or so. I like to keep it in the freezer and just warm slices in the toaster as needed.
ps. Like a sneak peak?
Here are some samples from the book…
pps. I normally don’t like to play favorites…
But the Savoury & Breads chapter in the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions‘, is the one I’ve found myself using the most since I downloaded the finished book to my phone.
And the cool thing is that since there’s no gluten or flour, there’s no need to knead! Or mess around with yeast.
To make sure you don’t miss out on the special introductory price go to:
NOTE: Special launch price available for a limited time only.