Saturday, May 30, 2009

I luvs me my women

The header speaks of my fiction, but I think that last weekend demonstrates it in real life. Not that they are "my" women - it's a phrase, OK?

I have always been attracted to bright, dynamic, passionate women. When I was young and crude, as opposed to old and crude, I used to say they gave me a platonic hard-on. Still true, I confess.

Consequently I enjoy creating fictional women whom I admire. My tales are not kind to men who disrespect or abuse them.

This evening a new noble woman emerged. The heiress to a barony speaks up, even as her stomach recoils, and offers to become a hostage to save the people ruled by her father. She sounds to me like the patriots of the revolution.
“Daughter, you cannot make this decision yourself.”

“Neither can you, father. Too much is at stake.”
The fun part of fantasy writing is that it can go almost anywhere that my own sense of verisimilitude permits. I had not planned this character or her words and actions at all. Up until this evening she only existed on the genealogy charts showing how characters are interrelated. The town in which she dwells comes under attack precisely because her sister is married to one of the claimants to the throne. Said claimant had previously attacked the birthplace of another claimant's wife. (The arson in an earlier post.) This is a counter-attack designed to strike the heart.

The demand for hostages explicitly calls for "the heir of your body ... and five other souls who shall be of consequence." That heir is the lady who emerges to offer herself "under sacred feathers."*

In fiction we get lots of nobility, and I do not refer to bloodlines.

This volume also contains my first female villain. One must be even-handed, or at least somewhat so.

--the BB

*Eagle feathers are worn, in my parallel world, as a sign of peace and of truce. When wearing them one may not attack another or be attacked by another. One may defend oneself only. Heralds carry symbols adorned with feathers. If this lady goes as a hostage wearing eagle feathers in her hair, she claims that sacred protection. Anyone who harms her would forfeit all right to their life and should, if custom be honored, be executed on the spot. Even so, she and five others would be at the complete mercy of the enemy.

4304 - updated with photo

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Spc. Chad A. Edmundson, 20, of Williamsburg, Pa., died May 27 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit while on a dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry...

May her rest in peace

Knowledge is power

Here is a 9-minute video that can help arm you for addressing codswallop and confounding twaddlemongers.

h/t to Susan Russell

--the BB

A baron, a herald, and a star singer had a little chat.

Sounds rather like the beginning of a joke, no? Unfortunately the stakes are appallingly high and the choice facing the baron is not much choice at all.

I------’s husband said little at the news or his wife’s outpouring. His face tightened, his eyes seemed lost in the middle distance. M----- retreated into some inner space and the intensity of his posture warned others not to inquire closely. When the leading figures of County Y----- gathered, waiting for some word from him. He began with no more than, “It is war.”
Even at this point the violence has been limited and the narrative mostly of impending disaster. It will soon get rather nasty, alas.

Come to think of it, Year B of the Eucharistic Lectionary is when we get the Davidic succession narrative (Revised Common Lectionary using the semi-continuous track for reading the Hebrew Scriptures). What a perfect time for me to be inventing a succession narrative in my fantasy fiction.

And yes, you clever critters, the graphic above reveals that my land does have its own language. The slogan depicted comes at the end of the call to battle by Count M-----, referred to above, and is adopted by his partisans.

I may have invented the artificial tongue but I don't speak it. For those who love how languages work, inventing one is great fun and very difficult at the same time.

The phrase above is an indefinite future third-person negative imperative structure. We do not think of the imperative in the third person in English, using forms more like "let them" or "she must not." Still, this is how it would have been said in this other world in 739 AD.

M. refers to his distant cousin T., who certainly feels the same way about M.

The topographical map includes the principality in question and was created in the course of working on volumes 1 and 2.

I would like to make some serious headway on the tale this weekend. So far so good. About 32,000 words up to this point.

--the BB

20,000 dead civilians

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final days of Sri Lanka's military operation to defeat Tamil Tigers rebels, The Times newspaper reported on Friday.


U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay has said the LTTE recruited child soldiers and used civilians as human shields during the conflict, while the military had indiscriminately shelled areas packed with civilians.

Both sides have denied the allegations.


h/t to Chris in Paris at Americablog

No matter who does it, or where, there is no such thing as "collateral damage," only murder of innocents.

--the BB

Scooped by a Canadian

Given the state of the U.S. media it should come as no surprise that we need to go to furriners for our news.

David@Montreal sent me an e-mail directing me to the blog of my grandnephew's family (which I did not read yesterday - I do not share my family's endless fascination with babies, trust me on this one, though I do like them). There is big news.
Clara was given her walking papers today. She needed to be able to drink her bottle at every feeding for 24 hours, which she is doing. She will be going home on Saturday and we expect Olivia to follow her shortly. This is a big step and we need God's help and mercy. Exciting!!!!
--Hoff Hoopla

I want to thank all you who have been holding the twins in your hearts and prayers. Their survival would never have been possible years ago and took a lot of high quality medical care, love, and prayer. It still will be a challenge.

Merci, David.

--the BB

Friday, May 29, 2009

La nostalgie n'est plus ce qu'elle était

Jane R has nice essay up at Episcopal Café. The title is "Lost things and the power of memory."

I wrote the following response to her directly: my own tale of loss of a thing.

Lovely essay.

When [my ex] and I first visited St Petersburg I took along my French army beret. It was a gift of l'Intendant Général Jean F Urvoy, with whose family I lived for two months in fall of 1967. I could wear it in France without the insigne of l'Intendance but in the States I could wear that too. I loved it. It reminded me of all those hot army boys (studying to be accountants, alas), of the General and his family, of Montpellier, of France generally, and of my youth.

At some point in our walk toward and down the Nevsky Prospect, the beret fell out of my coat pocket, never to be seen again.

All the reasons you mention - those who gift us with lovely things, memories, connections, stories - made this a painful loss. But there was nothing to be done about it. I sighed, grieved, and went on.

I still miss it.

[The header is the title of a book by Simone Signoret: "Nostalgia isn't what it use to be."]

PS: This is where I lived with them.
--the BB

Dust swirled in the beams of morning light as K---- swept the floor of her modest stone hut.

D. wavered, his weight constantly shifting as he learned this new art of balance, then he began moving toward his mother in something resembling a controlled forward fall.

“Yes, my love. You can walk!” Č. rewarded the thirteen-month-old, showering kisses on his dark curls as though this were his first time. He had actually begun to walk a couple of months ago but the anxiety around the palace over events in F. was absorbed by the young lord’s heart and he regressed for a few weeks. Now he was getting bolder each day.

Yes, my frolicking earwigs, I keep returning to the scale of the domestic, over and over again. The princess encourages her firstborn in "this new art of balance." Into this charming scene comes a friend of great-grandma's, no ordinary woman, who had just flown in - really! - in the form of a white-bellied sea eagle.

A brighter future is linked, in the princess' mind, with too many nightmare memories. Can she, who survived so much horror in the first two books, find peace?

I kill off so many characters. Anyone want to lay odds on the princess' future happiness?

[Yes, David, 2009 is the year I seek publication.]

--the BB

Thursday, May 28, 2009

690 - updated with photo

05/28/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Army 1st Sgt. Blue C. Rowe, 33, of Summers, Ark., died May 26 in Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, Upland, Calif.

05/27/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties (2 of 2)
Senior Airman Ashton L. M. Goodman, 21, of Indianapolis...assigned to the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C....died May 26 near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.

05/27/09 :
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties (1 of 2)
Lt. Col. Mark E. Stratton II, 39, of Houston...assigned to the Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C...died May 26 near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.


DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Maged M. Hussein, 43, of Cairo, Egypt, died May 25 in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq. He was employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,...

DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Cmdr. Duane G. Wolfe, 54, of Port Hueneme, Calif., died May 25 from injuries suffered as a result of an improvised explosive device attack on his convoy southeast of Fallujah. Wolfe was assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region...

It wasn't all cactus on Monday

Canada geese with goslings (click to embiggen)

I still have more flowering cactus pix. Thanks for joining us on the trip.

Oh, yes, I have noted the ugliness in the world of late. I cannot rant every day but let me say this. Those making noises against Sonia Sotomayor are simply projecting. Their ignorance, racism, etc. comes out in plain daylight every time they open their fucking pieholes to charge her with that of which they are guilty.

Let the malice of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous;
for you test the mind and heart, O righteous God.
--Psalm 7.10 BCP

--the BB

Arson again

A northern city is torched before dawn by flaming arrows.
Cries of horror rose into the night as onlookers watched roofs collapse, great black beams tumbling through the red flames, scattering sparks, and sometimes sealing the fate of the trapped. Dogs barked and horses panicked. Not a single voice paused to hymn the daystar when light came at last to this fiery nightmare.
This atrocity makes it clear. It will be war.

One minute flaming arrows, the next Episcopalians swooping down on Anaheim like Vikings upon Lindisfarne.

Sorry. Bad analogy. Anaheim is hardly a haven of sanctity, though I am sure some holy souls live there.

The photo above is from the Jesusita fire in the Santa Barbara area. I was talking today to two firefighters stationed there. Got unprofessional and thanked one of them but had to move on quickly. You know how soppy I can get.

Sweet dreams, my frisky wombats!

--the BB

Hey, why not vote?

"And now you have bastards. Buh-bye!"

h/t to Elizabeth

--the BB

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

“There is a new darkness in the world.” - updated

I am uncertain whether I have just completed chapter 26 or there might be one more scene in it.

The chief has been doing his chiefing, his warmaiden wife has been carding wool, his sister has been making jewelry, and his brother-in-law has been carving wood. Until he dropped his mallet and put his chisel down. There goes his inner awareness again, like a loud alarm unheard by all others. Reading hearts is one thing but sensing things at great distances is too skeevy.

Will the forest tribe be drawn once more into the affairs of the northeastern lands? Is the pope a Bavarian? But wait. Ninefingers' wife is pregnant. This is no time to run off on adventures.

All just to keep you eager, Margaret.

Yes, there was one more scene, the deathbed of the former Lord Marshall [a victim of poisoning].
T. stroked his father’s hand gently, almost afraid to tatter the translucent skin. He sighed, rose, and turned away, missing the moment when C’s eyes shot open. There was no recognition, only an inarticulate grunt before all breath fled.

A star singer, who had been waiting in the room, began to sing [the song at death]. D. fell to his knees, collapsing on the bed, and wept. V’s eyes seemed for a while as vacant as their father’s as shock set in and he pondered all that had just fallen on his shoulders.

T’s wife, J., left the room. She returned with a bowl of ashes so the family could mark their grief. A tall, sober-faced page entered shortly thereafter with swaths of white cloth. Makeshift sashes were girt about waists as the brother’s smeared ash on each other’s cheeks. The mourners did what mourners must as the departed journeyed with [the god who guides the dead], beyond caring.
[White is the color of death in my parallel world. Star singers are a pre-christian clergy equivalent.]

Sweet dreams, my little voles.

--the BB

Local and fresh: the yard this evening - updated with dessert

I usually tweak my photos slightly. If I don't they tend to appear washed out on the blog. So I confess that most yard photos especially have the contrast increased and exposure decreased, though usually not by much. They look not only better but also closer to what my eye sees when I am snapping pics.

Confession out of the way, here are some from this evening after I got home and watered the yard.

Pole beans and petunias

Eggplant seedlings and newly sprouted cosmos

Tournament of Roses rosebush

French lavender

Singing in the Rain rose - unretouched

Piñata rosebush

Tomatoes and basil
(and I suspect the Serrano chile may survive)

If you had seen my Elberta peach tree the last two seasons
you would not guess that this is the same tree.


Speaking of enjoyment, I plucked some basil and Italian parsley from the yard tonight (yes, I also have rosemary, sage, and thyme). These went into a sauce of heavy cream, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, thyme, dill, red pepper flakes, thin asparagus, and sea salt. All this was tossed with rotelli pasta. Very nice - and lunch for the next couple of days.

Oh, dessert was organic tapioca pudding topped with very fresh home-made strawberry jam from my friend Bill's home-grown strawberries. I feel sooooo decadent.

--the BB

That's MILLIONS displaced

Millions displaced by cyclone in India, Bangladesh
Washington Post - ‎41 minutes ago‎
By Sujoy Dhar KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Cyclone Aila has displaced millions of people in India and Bangladesh, only a fraction of whom have access to food and drinking water, officials said on Wednesday.

Holy God, source of life, lover of souls, out of the depths we call to you; in the face of incomprehensible anguish and sorrow, we lift the cries of our distress and implore you to show mercy upon those who are suffering from the destruction of Cyclone Aila. We pray for those who have died and for their loved ones who grieve, asking you to hold them in the arms of your love; we pray for those who have been injured in body, mind or spirit and ask you to heal them; we pray for those who are homeless and wandering, for families torn asunder and ask you to shelter them. Strengthen the hands and hearts of those who assist in relief efforts and grant us all firm resolve to stand with our neighbors who are in need, to love them and to offer our generous support of them in this their time of trouble; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen

--A prayer by Fr. Chip Stokes for those affected by Hurricane Katrina, adapted

--the BB

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ZOMG, the plot doesn't just thicken, it curdles

“Whatever is happening, I do not like it and I am afraid for my child.”

This was X., the young widow whose hollowing cheeks bespoke weight loss and whose darkening eyes proclaimed sleepless nights. She stood with a rigid dignity but her form had grown slighter beneath the indigo dress that hung from her frame.

“’Fraid,” echoed Her Magnificence, looking about the room and seeing collective anxiety on the faces of the adults.
Yes, in the space of a few short chapters there have been two assassinations since the prince was slain, and three acts of terrorism. Now it is overt military action. Moriarty must be up to something. Grab your deerstalker, the game's afoot.

The Regents are freaking. For that matter, so is the whole principality. We don't have warrantless wiretapping but the roads are closed, movement is limited, surveillance is ratcheted up. Clamping down with control is, how do you say, a rather common response to fear.

Now come the dreams and visions along with the movement of armies. Not the springtime everyone hoped for.

I just finished chapter 25. Time for bed.

--the BB

A few more shots from yesterday


--the BB

Some days are like that

The graphic above encapsulates my prayer at some news.

I realize that life may well not be that different from what we have known but communication is much faster and more widespread. We are thus aware of the world's pain, and specifically of the pain of friends and those they love, in a more immediate way than was ever possible before.

It seems that bad news, unspeakably horrible news, keeps coming. The accidental death of a child, the isolation of those with terminal or potentially terminal conditions, the myriad setbacks on the journey toward justice, the surd agony of a planet.

Our initial take on the California Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8 may well miss a larger and actually somewhat positive point that the name of "marriage" may be withheld but any attempt to deny the rights of domestic relationships would face a much higher hurdle and is not likely to be viewed favorably by the court. See Ann Fontaine's post at The Lead.

What really moves, angers, and appalls me today is the tragedy that Doxy shares with us today. Just read it. You owe this to yourself. It is tragic and infuriating. Through it all Terri-Lynn shines.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

[If you have not read Doxy's post, the point of what I append here will be obscure; if you do read her post it will be more than clear.]

[Note: Diverus is a variant of Dives in this folk song. "Dives" is Latin for "rich man."]

As it fell out upon one day,
Rich Divès made a feast,
And he invited all his friends,
And gentry of the best.

Then Lazarus laid him down and down
And down at Divès’ door:
“Some meat and drink, brother, Diverus,
Bestow upon the poor.”

“Thou’rt none of my brothers, Lazarus,
That liest begging at my door;
No meat, nor drink will I give thee,
Nor bestow upon the poor.”

Then Lazarus laid him down and down,
All under Divès’ wall:
“Some meat, some drink, brother Diverus,
For hunger starve I shall.”

“Thou’rt none of my brothers, Lazarus,
That liest begging at my gate;
No meat, no drink will I give thee,
For Jesus Christ His sake.”

Then Divès sent out his hungry dogs,
To bite him as he lay;
They hadn’t the power to bite one bite,
But licked his sores away.

Then Divès sent to his merry men,
To worry poor Lazarus away;
They’d not the power to strike one stroke,
But flung their whips away.

As it fell out upon one day,
Poor Lazarus sickened and died;
There came two angels out of heaven,
His soul therein to guide.

“Rise up! rise up! brother Lazarus,
And go along with me;
For you’ve a place prepared in heaven,
To sit on an angel’s knee.”

As it fell out upon one day,
Rich Divès sickened and died;
There came two serpents out of hell,
His soul therein to guide.

“Rise up! rise up! brother Diverus,
And come along with me;
There is a place provided in hell
For wicked men like thee.”

Then Divès looked up with his eyes
And saw poor Lazarus blest;
“Give me one drop of water, brother Lazarus,
To quench my flaming thirst.”

“O, was I now but alive again
The space of one half hour!
O, that I had my peace again
Then the devil should have no power.”

[text from here]

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's Side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, Father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'
--Luke 16:19-31

--the BB

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flourishing roses

I did nothing in the garden this weekend except walk and take the photos shown below. I watered well before leaving town and my friend Kathy saw to it that things were watered before I came home. Thanks, Kathy!

Check these babies out. Planted this year as a bare root rose.

Likewise with this one.

These were planted two years ago and have just bloomed in the past week.

I came home to many other blooms than these, but I caught these on camera (I began to say "on film" but that hardly obtains anymore) before running off on today's romp.

It appears that most of the vegetables are going to make it. More on them at another date.

--the BB

Decoration Day 2009 - updated

God of love and mercy, receive our thanks this day for the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. Help us to honor them in our work for peace through justice, that people across the globe may live abundant lives freed from the threat of war and violence. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.

I added no comments earlier because I really had no words to add. Now I would like to add these (borrowed) comments:

Each and every one of these deaths left a hole in the world. That is why we count them.

They mattered.

h/t to Susan Russell for the prayer and Mimi for the photo

--the BB