Archive for November, 2012

Year 4 Day 271, Sunset

There must be something I can do! The screams are driving me mad, and the terrible pain and pressure will not relent. Not to mention the anxiety, which I think is coming from both Giraffe, who has been increasingly worried all afternoon, and now from Meerkat as well.

The screams are growing weaker.

Meerkat is shouting, “Push! Push!”

I’m going into the hut, no matter what Meerkat says!


I didn’t quite make it to the hut when there was a feeling of breaking through, followed by a new sound, a high squall. Songbird’s screaming ceased. Heart pounding, I pushed my way into the hut.

The smell of blood filled my nostrils, and Songbird looked very small in the corner of the hut. But I saw her chest rise and fall, and a smile lit her face as she bent over a tiny, red creature scarcely recognizable as human, the cord connecting mother and baby still pulsing. Meerkat was bent over the two, doing something with the cord, and I backed out before she saw me. Songbird’s pain was still there, but overlain with joy, and Meerkat’s anxiety had changed to satisfaction.

I think we will all live.

Solar Noon Today

Solar noon 11/29/12. In all fairness, this is not near record cold  for this time of year.

Quotes from Andre Norton

These are the quotations tweeted between November 22 and November 28 from @sueannbowling. The first six are from Trey of Swords, a collection of three novelettes by Andre Norton. The name of the novelette is above each group of quotes.

Cover, Trey of SwordsSword of Ice

“It is always in such straits a shrewd move to find an enemy outside the borders.” The new ruler of Karsten is striving to unite his land by a crusade against the Witches of Estcarp.

“I think we close our minds too often.” Crytha, just after she has first found that she can control a snake.

“Freedom is more than Power.” Crytha, saying to Yonan that she is willing to share what she can do because he understands that freedom is more than power over others.

“Who knows when he lies down at night what the rising sun will bring tomorrow?” Yonan, as he sets out to rescue Crytha.

Sword of Lost Battles

“I was not master, but rather the servant of what I carried.” Yonan feels he is being moved by the ancient sword he has found.

Sword of Shadow

“Evil of many kinds dared not cross clean running water.” A very old belief, in this case voiced by Tsali when he and Crytha need temporary protection from the Dark.

“Sometimes there is no right way.” Bowling, Homecoming. Marna is realizing that her own moral ambiguity is nothing new to Roi.

Bookmarks and business cardsLast night I went to the science fiction and fantasy reading group at our local library, where they were discussing my first book, Homecoming. I went with some trepidation, telling myself there is no such thing as a book everyone likes, and prepared for criticism. I also took supplies of my homemade bookmarks and some business cards with my various internet addresses and, with some uncertainty, a few copies of the sequel, Tourist Trap.

I needn’t have worried.

Everyone wanted bookmarks and web addresses. The three copies of Tourist Trap I’d brought were snapped up, with readers saying how eager they were to read of Roi’s further maturation. Lots of questions about when the third book will be out. (It’s now in the editing process and I haven’t even decided yet whether to try for a publisher, go back to iUniverse or go totally indie with it.)

The sincerest form of flattery may be imitation, but for an author, buying the sequel on the basis of how well you liked the first book is a very close second. Thank you.

The sun will rise at 10:06 this morning, and after 5 hours 5 minutes it will set at 3:11 this afternoon . We’re now losing less every day – 5 minutes and 47 seconds today. The solar altitude at noon is only about 4° above the horizon, and the sun barely makes it into the house. We’re slowly getting closer to the sun, as usual this time of year, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it!

noon low sun

Looking south from Wolf Run at solar noon, 11/24/12. That’s as high as the sun gets this time of year.

To show how short the days are: Saturday I left a little after sunrise for a haircut, lunch, automatic teller at bank and three stores, in all of which I knew what I wanted and where to go. No lines to speak of. The sun was setting as I started home, with the gibbous moon shining in the northeastern sky. (The full moon is highest when the sun is lowest.) The skies are still clear, and the daily highs struggle (often unsuccessfully) to get above 0°F. No snow since last week, and the snow stake is still sitting at 6”.

The clear skies have a price — inversions and the resulting air pollution. Once that  meant carbon monoxide, but improved car design has largely eliminated that. Now our problem is fine particulates, largely from wood smoke. Appallingly, a recent Borough election voted down local controls — which means leave it up to the EPA, since we are far out of compliance. This morning the radio warned that the particulate level was unhealthy even for healthy people, and a friend of mine on oxygen is housebound and miserable.

I’m a little excited about this evening. The science fiction and fantasy group at our local library is reading my first book, Homecoming. I’ve been invited so they can talk to a real, live author. I’m running low on bookmarks — need to print up more. Also some business cards with my web addresses.


I still need to write up one more Inner Council meeting from Zhaim’s POV, letting him come to the conclusion that he has to get Roi out of the way somehow. My editor’s not going to be back in town until next month, so I should be able to finish the changes before she’s ready for the next round. There’ll be more changes, of course – there always are. But I’m happy with the effect of adding Jacyn’s and Zhaim’s POVs. Or should that be points of view?

M100, photo credit HubbleWelcome back to War’s End. Ginger is trying to free Kelty, who’s just said that mostly it’s his clothing that’s stuck, not him. Madame Irela is sitting on a log, Bounce is off hunting for Audi, and with Michelle asleep Coralie’s survival. training is kicking in. If you want more details, click “Index” above, and then “Six Sentence Sunday.” And by the way, Mik is Coralie’s big brother.

Kelty sighed as Ginger cut loose the back of his hair, then carefully wiggled out of his jacket and jumpsuit.  Coralie looked away, catching only a glimpse of silky, close-fitting briefs.  No worse than Mik’s loincloth, she told herself firmly, and modesty was the least of their problems.

“Might as well shave my head,” Kelty grumbled, feeling the back of his head as he walked over to a carryall behind the medical kit and pulled out a pair of shorts and a light shirt.  “I hope that insect repellent works.”

“We’re going to get eaten alive if it doesn’t,” came Audi’s voice.

That gets everyone who was on the courier initially, but they’re a long way from being out of the jungle yet. And it wasn’t everyone who was on the courier just before they found themselves tumbling through the jungle.

One happy announcement: my first book, Homecoming, is the Monday topic for the Science Fiction and Fantasy reading group at the library.

Want more snippets? You’re in luck! This is Six Sentence Sunday, and well over a hundred authors have posted six sentence bits from their work, from rough draft to published. Just click on the logo below to find them and how to join in. (And we all love comments.)
Six Sentence Sunday logo

This is an updated repost; the original version was posted December 19, 2010. I have added photos and changed several of the links.

Two dilution genes are so rare that their effect on all base colors is not even well understood.

Mushroom has been found in only a few breeds: Shetland Pony, Haflinger and possibly the American Quarter horse. At first glance, it looks like silver dapple acting on a black background. The body color is a flat beige or sepia, and the mane and tail are lighter than the body. But mushroom horses, unlike silver dapple, are very rarely dappled. Further, their eyelashes normally remain dark.

DNA tests show conclusively that these horses do not carry silver. Even more surprising, gene tests indicate the underlying color is not black, but chestnut.

Mushroom has been shown to be due to a recessive gene, tentatively identified as the mushroom allele at the mushroom locus. The effect on base colors other than chestnut is at the present time unknown.

It is difficult to know how common the mushroom allele is, partly because most mushroom horses are misidentified as silver dapples.

The other rare dilution as been found in two closely related Arabian horses. Their pedigrees suggest a recessive gene, and their appearance suggest that the effect of the double recessive is similar to that of a single champagne gene, though there is less effect on red pigment or skin color.  Eye color is lighter than normal. However, this is based on only two horses.

Silver Dapple Buckskin?A single horse can have any two alleles at each locus, but there are six different loci that have at least one allele that causes dilution. Thus a horse can easily be a palomino and a dun (linebacked palomino) or a dun and a silver dapple on a black background (silver grullo.) Telling which genes are actually present based on the appearance of the horse, however, can be a major problem without DNA testing. In many cases, a horse with multiple dilution genes will just look cream, or even white. I mentioned this before, when I posted a photo of a horse the owner thought was palomino and I thought was buckskin silver dapple. Here’s another photo of the same horse.

We can summarize the loci and the alleles we have discussed previously, with links to the previous posts, as follows:

4 horses

Liver chestnut (note the lightening toward the hooves), bay, and red chestnut.The one almost hidden is palomino.

Agouti locus: This has been shown to be the agouti signalling protein (ASIP) locus. The exact number of alleles is uncertain, but probably include wild-type bay (some red on lower legs), bay, seal brown (black with some red shading) and non-agouti (black.) More red is dominant to more black in this series. Most blacks, and particularly most intense blacks, are due to non-agouti.

Extension locus: This has been shown to be the melanocortin one receptor (MS1R) locus. There are three alleles. The most dominant first, they are dominant black, wild-type, and recessive red (chestnut). This locus determines whether black pigment can be produced. Two copies of the recessive red allele or one of the dominant black allele completely hide whatever is present at the agouti locus. Dominant black is relatively rare and still subject to some controversy.

Because agouti and extension interact, I covered both in separate posts, here and here. Because these base colors can be modified, I also described the classes of modifying genes.

Cream locus: This has been shown to be the membrane-associated transport protein (MATP) locus. The alleles are (in order of dominance) cream, wild-type, and pearl. Red pigment is affected far more than black, especially if the horse has one wild-type gene. Palomino, buckskin and smoky black are the result of a single cream allele with the other being wild-type. Two cream alleles give cremillo, perlino, or smoky cream, which cannot always be told apart. The pearl allele is a relatively recent discovery, but it appears to be at the cream locus.


Red Dun head

Red Dun

Dun locus: As of 2009 the locus had not been found, so no direct DNA test was available. There is, however, a test for a linked gene. The alleles are dun (wild-type) which is dominant to non-dun. Both red and black pigment are affected, and in addition dun produces a dorsal stripe and other variable striping effects. There is a dun, specifically a grulla, in my novel, Tourist Trap.

Champagne locus: This has been reported to be a mutation in Exon 2 of SLC36A1, and a gene test is available. The alleles are Champagne (dominant) and wild-type, and it does not matter whether one or two doses of Champagne are present. The effect is to dilute both red and black, but a single dose of champagne causes more dilution of black on the body than does a single dose of cream. Eye and skin color are also affected.

Silver Dapple locus: This has been shown to be the pre-melanosomal protein 17 (PMEL17) locus. The alleles are silver (dominant) and wild-type. This gene dilutes black to a variable extent, but has little or no effect on red, and appears to dilute the coarsest hairs most strongly. Like champagne, it is a simple dominant.

There are three more groups of loci which produce white areas or hairs on the horse: those that produce white markings on head and legs only, those that produce interspersed white hair, and those that produce white areas on the body.  I’ll repost these with updated pictures later, but you can find the original posts by using the index.

Year 4, Day 271

Starburst, photo credit MorguefileI don’t know how much longer I can stand this.

Meerkat built a hut for the birth, and informed Giraffe and me that this was a women’s mystery and we were most emphatically not welcome.

Songbird just screamed again. How can a man do this to a woman? But they don’t know they are responsible.

The screams are bad enough, but I’m also sharing the pain. No wonder the fathers I’ve known have looked so drained after a birth! A father worthy of the name is expected to mind-link with his mate to help her through the birth process. And I think Giraffe would if he could, even though he has no idea that he had anything to do with this.

Could I trade on being considered a god to override Meerkat’s exclusion of males? But what could I do if she let me in? I am no Healer, even if the computer had any information on a birth process with no remodeling of the pelvis.

How do these People survive?

Jarn’s Journal is the fictional journal of a fictional human-like alien stranded on Earth, in Africa, about 125,000 years ago. He is living with our remote ancestors. His Journal to date is on my author site, as it is the remote background for my science fiction books, set much closer to our own time.

Happy Thanskgiving

Wild Turkeys

This photo was taken right off the deck of my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Ithaca, and no, they do not live out of town. Photo by Richard Baer.

Just a very short post for Thanksgiving day. For the day’s feast, aren’t you glad the turkey was domesticated? Wonder why Ben Franklin wanted to make it the National bird? He was thinking of the wild ones, which are still around, though not in Alaska. My brother-in-law took this picture, in his back yard (Ithaca, New York.)

Quotes from Mercedes Lackey

These are the contexts of the quotes tweeted from @sueannbowling between November 15 and November 21. All but the last are from The Fairy Godmother, by Mercedes Lackey.

Cover, The Fairy Godmother“I will be me, on my own terms, by my own rules. With my own plans and my own decisions.” In the first three quotes, Elena is effectively dictating to the Tradition, trying to get it to take a new path. She wants love, but she does not want any of the Traditional paths (i.e, fairy-tale traditional.)

“What I have I’ll share, but I’ll not give over.”

“What I will be, I will be, by my own will and no other.”

“The carrot for the lowly, the stick for the mighty. It is quite astonishing how effective these things are, when applied in that particular order.” Something Elena remembers from Godmother Bella’s teachings.

“Cats, even the commonest barn and kitchen cats, had an affinity for magic.” Elena’s thought, when a cat immediately identifies her as a Godmother.

“Cats, as everyone knew, were perfectly capable of seeing spirits.” But this one does not see Elena, after she has set her spell of invisibility.

“How much could he do at once?” Bowling, Homecoming. Roi is trying simultaneously to protect a friend and himself from further injury while Healing that friend and calling for help telepathically, and he doesn’t really know how to Heal yet.