Dandy Lion and Teh Pawz of Doom

We had high hopes for our dandy-lion wine, (see part 1 and part 2) but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. For some strange and unknowable reason we’ve ended up with dandelion and orange cider vinegar. We’re going to have a chat with our wine making expert next time we’re in town to pick up our latest batch of red wine. Thusly armed (with both red wine and information) we will try again next year, omitting the oranges. Mrs Widds and I concur, ‘the oranges did it!’

***

In my last post I teased you with teh pawz of doom. Here’s the pic again to refresh your memory.

Pawz of Doom

Pawz of Doom

No, we haven’t gained another household member, this is Coco, the neighbourhood cat Widdercat refused to have anything to do with, and we, being well trained staffpersons, also had nothing to do with. (sneaking cuddles down by the lake doesn’t count)

A few weeks after Widdercat crossed to the Summerlands, Coco decide to drop in for a visit. After thoroughly checking every nook and cranny in the place, (just because someone has vacated the premises physically doesn’t mean they don’t leave ambushes for fluffy interlopers) she decided we would become her adopted staffpersons for a few hours every day.

Teh Fluff of Doom

Teh Fluff of Doom

I dare say she felt it her duty to make sure we didn’t lapse into any un-staffpersonly habits.

This has always been my chair

This has always been my chair

It’s kinda like being cat grandparents. You get the cuddles and playing (and cyoot photo ops) then pack ‘em off back to their parents.

World Domination

World Domination

 

A Funny (Lesbian) Thing Happened on the Way to the (NaMoWriMo) Forum

I would’ve liked to say this didn’t take some the shine off, but it did. And interesting in light of my previous post on becoming ‘invisible’.

The facts are these:

I wanted to connect with other lesbian SF writers on NanoWriMo so I posted this:

Lesbians in Spaaaaace
I decided to start this thread because I did a search for ‘lesbian’ and only found one thread title that had ‘lesbian’ in it in the first 10 pages of the search. That was for the whole NaNo site
Now there are two!
I’m talking about lesbians who get out of bed in the morning, pull on their big-girl kick-ass space boots and go save the galaxy!
Lesbian FTL engineers and ore freighter pilots, stellar cartographers and xeno-archeologists, cooks and colonels.
Lesbians talking, laughing, loving, breathing, fighting, f*cking, crying, drinking, riding, winning, losing, cheating, kissing, thinking, dreaming … (3 gold stars if you know this reference)
Lesbians doing every imaginable and beyond-imagining job in SF.
Here’s my novel synopsis. The idea was sparked by the score counter in Bejeweled Twist – another 3 stars if you know this too! Just in case I don’t win one of the ’30 covers, 30 days’ covers, I used the amazing and fun-est ever, Pulp-O-mizer to create a ‘pulp fiction’ one.
Synopsis:
Humanity has reached the Asteroid Belt, and is poised to expand beyond the solar system. Only one thing stands in their way, the Tarra company who for decades, has had a choke hold on the technology and fuel needed to make that leap.
Captain Gorda Figaro of Mobius Station, a 3rd generation O’Neil sphere, tries to keep a lid on the explosive situation, while hiding her true motives from a Tarra envoy bent on keeping the Station and all who call her home, under Earth’s control.
Bel Beck, a ‘scraper’ (asteroid miner who ‘scrapes’ the minerals from the surfaces of the asteroids) spends her time on-station making Gorda Figaro’s life hell, and the rest of the time working with the rebel scrapers, (the Knight Whiskey Runners) who are searching for an alternative to Tarra fuel.

… and checked back the next day to see if anyone had joined in. Someone had – a moderator, who informed me she was ‘… going to lock this as a duplicate post.’ because ‘ …there are a bunch of us writing queer space farers’ on the ‘LGBT+scifi thread’.

You know that feeling when your gut tells you something is going on, but you have nothing really concrete to support it?

Then something happens, so small in the grand scheme of things, that you’re tempted to dismiss it out of hand, but you’ve learned some hard lessons about trusting your instincts and/or intuition, and suddenly you see that tiny thing as a clear … signpost, if nothing else.

I don’t identify as queer, not do I write queer fiction. I am a lesbian who writes lesbian fiction. And it seemed to me there was no place set at the NaNo table for my humble little thread.

***

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ – probably said be a great many people but attributed to George Santayana

P.S. OK, so it wasn’t exactly a ‘humble’ thread. I don’t think I could do ‘humble’ if I tried. It was exuberant and full of joie de vivre!

P.P.S. The gold stars are still available if you guess correctly! :)

***

Coming next: The Pawz of Doom!

Pawz of Doom

Pawz of Doom

 

 

I wasn’t, and then I was. Now I am, and this is what I’m going to do …

… for NaNoWriMo 2014

Cover Art for my 2014 NaNo project

Pulp-O-Mizer is the funnest thing ever.

Go! Play with it now!

***

P.S. If you’re NaNo-ing, I’m there as ‘Widder’

 

Wherein I Chat About ‘Invisible-isation’

I’m a peaceable gal by nature. I live my life according to my personal code of ethics and have people in my life who do the same.

Most of the time I post about the aspects of my life that have to do with writing, (or cats, and glaciers) or things that impact my life. (and therefore my writing) But occasionally something gets up my goat (mixed metaphores, I know) and I choose to speak about it.

Recently a young woman did a television interview and said some rather interesting things. The interesting bit starts at about 1 minute in.

I thought to myself, like Oprah, ‘she’s gonna cop some flack for that’, and although I disagreed with her point of view, I let it slide because hey, live and let live, right? And, in a much more perfect world than this, she’d be right.

Then, on my favourite go-to website for bubblegum/pop culture/ occasionally serious, lesbianly (and very U.S.-centric) stuff, AfterEllen, someone had taken up the cause to defend the young woman. 

***

There’s a danger here.

This is the ranty bit:

Yes, by all means. Let’s de-label ourselves to invisibility.

Again.

It worked out so well for us last time.

It’s working out so well for us at this very moment, all over the world.

It’s working out so well for us right in our own backyards.

 

And this is the more nuanced bit:

It’s imperative that we continually define and redefine ourselves. It’s what we do after all. And I don’t begrudge us wanting to shift the weight of outmoded, oppressive, offensive labels from our shoulders. It’s how we grow. It’s how our tribes, and the larger society we inhabit, evolve.

But in doing so, we can’t afford to dismiss the bloody and hard won battles that have given some of us on this planet the privilege of labeling ourselves ‘label-less’. Those battles to claim our label, to claim our tribe, are still being fought by a horrifying majority of us.

Personally, I doubt the rallying cry is, ‘I am not a label’.

And finally, a slight segue but still on topic, Jove Belle writes eloquently about her concerns on the ‘invisible-ising’ of feminism at Women and Words.

 

For a Friend

Ruth Nestvold has a new book coming soon, so I thought I’d give you a heads-up. I like her work. You might too. :)  

… take it away Ruth.

***

Island of Glass
Ruth Nestvold

Publication date: October 28, 2014

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.
When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.
Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy.

Now available for pre-order for an introductory price of only 99c!

Purchase Link:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Island-Glass-Glassmakers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00NVGGSL0/

Excerpt 1:

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”
Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.
“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”
She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.
He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”
She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”
He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”
Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.
He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.
Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Excerpt 2:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief: a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice and beyond.
The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. Their craftsmanship was the basis of their riches — and their curse. Out of fear that they might reveal trade secrets, the laws of La Serenissima decreed that members of the glassmaking families of Murano were never to leave the islands of their lagoon. Murano glass was more precious than gold, after all. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

 

Author bio:

Ruth Nestvold’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Baen’s Universe, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. It is now available as an ebook in the original English.

 

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com
Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author
Twitter: @Ruth_Nestvold

Glaciers, Elkses,Vistas, and Hot Springs – Part I

“Every Winter the glacier grows about 25 meters. By the end of Summer it’s retreated 35 meters. In a few decades there’ll be nothing left but a lake.” So said our tour guide.

Such a loss seems incomprehensible to me. I’m standing on ice that is 50 meters thick. Ice that fell as snow on these mountains before humans ever walked upon this continent. Ice that in some parts of the glacier is 300 meters thick.

Athabasca Glacier - beyond awe inspiring

Athabasca Glacier – beyond awe inspiring

… I’m getting ahead of our adventures though. This is how it began.

As Widdercat reached official ‘ancient-hood’, she needed daily care, (or at least ¾ of the way around the clock care – in spite of all the pictures I’ve posted of her just sleeping) needed her routines intact, needed, us here. Which we unreservedly choose to do. After she died, we needed to get away for a while, have a real holiday, the kind where one spends several nights, away from home, doing touristy things.

Mrs Widds wanted to experience the Banff gondola, and I wanted to see a glacier, up close and personal.

We decided we’d camp (not that sort of camp. The sort that has tents and air mattresses and firewood) our way east until we hit the Columbia Valley, then veer north-east until we bumped into Banff. Stopping at any and all hot springs we could find, because the very afternoon we left our island here, I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see how much longer I can keep these battered old knees of mine going. (With a very long needle he withdrew 40cc of synovial fluid from my left knee – there’s only supposed to be 2cc’s in there at any given time – and with another equally long needle, inserted copious quantities of cortisone into it)

Then we hit the road!

Sunrise across the valley

Sunrise across the valley

First campsite – first morning. We woke before dawn and watched the sun crawl down the rocks.

Our first hot spring. The real thing. Rock pools made with rocks, that got progressively cooler as they reached the river. Lussier Hot Springs  in Whiteswan Provincial park.

Lussier Hot Springs - photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

It got too cold for our ‘3 seasons’ camping gear, and my knees weren’t taking it well, so we repacked the car with all the camping gear at the bottom, booked ahead for a motel, and (via some more hot springs at Radium) carried on to Banff and Mrs Widds gondola trip to the top of a mountain!

Even now I can't believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

Even now I can’t believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

See that spaceship looking thing in the distance? That’s a kilometer and a total of 1000 stairs, (up and down, both ways) away. I trashed my knees walking it, but the view and the air at 2500 meters above sea level was exhilarating

Thank goodness there was another hot spring back at the base of the mountain!

 

Happy Birthday. It’s a rat!

Not exactly the post I planned as my reentry into regular blogging, I tell you!

Mrs Widds and I took a couple of weeks off recently to go do touristy things in the Kootenay Rocky mountain region of BC. I have pics of glaciers and snow-capped mountain tops, and we both realised we absolutely love breathing the air at 2000 meters above sea level.

So, that was going to be my lead-in story, however, the best laid plans of mice (rats, actually) and lesbians …

We’ve been aware of the pitter-patter of tiny clawed feet in the house for a few months now, but we thought that turning the house upside down looking for the little bugger would’ve scared it off.

Nope.

We’re not heartless beasties so before we left, we set out a bit of fruit for it, just in case it decided, for some unknown reason, to stick around.

We arrived home from our adventures to the gutted skins of two bananas, and knew we’d have to take drastic steps.

We bought this:

Threshold of Doom on the right with sneaky trapdoor open

Threshold of Doom on the right with sneaky trapdoor open

‘Critter’, as we now called our diminutive (and as yet of undetermined species) houseguest, turned out to be smarter than the average bear, and eschewed falling for the old pile-of-nibblies-at-the-end-of-the-trap trick, so we resorted to the trail-of-seeds-to-the-opening-of-the-trap trick.

Side note: Mrs Widds has a thing about rats ever since one of her cats, long since departed via the Rainbow Bridge to the Summerlands, gifted her with a very large and very dead rat … on her bed … while she was sleeping … about a centimeter from her face.

Let’s all have a skin-crawling shudder at that image shall we?

**shudders**

Therefore, I was the designated remover of whatever species ‘Critter’ turned out to be.

For two nights Critter snacked on the dwindling number of seeds in front of the trap but didn’t cross the Threshold of Doom. It was all part of my Plan though.

Last night, having got Critter accustomed to finding food near the trap, I only put seeds inside it. Critter’s fate was sealed!

Overconfident, Critter crossed the Threshold of Doom and the trap snapped closed behind it .. just about the time Mrs Widds got out of bed. (She’s an early riser. Me? Not so much)

I felt a gently tap on my shoulder, and woke to the immortal words, “Happy Birthday. It’s a rat!”

To her credit Mrs Widds spoke softly, in spite of what she felt about the slithery, snickerly, squirmy, freaked-out RAT, bouncing around inside the trap, trying to escape.

I got dressed, released Critter-rat outside and fell back into bed.

I am 56. Bring on that second Saturn Return