Archive for November, 2013

Year 8 day 252

How do these northerners manage to preserve fur so it remains supple and wearable? And warm?

Several days ago I found the leopard skin the People had once adorned me with, which at the time I had found unbearably hot. That heat was what I craved for exploring the northern continent, especially now that the northern solstice is approaching, but the hide was far stiffer than the tanned skins the People use for clothing.

I asked Rainbow if there was any way of softening the furred hide.

“Why?” she asked. It has become one of her favorite words, and one I encourage. So I explained – or tried to – that the northern continent I was exploring was very cold, so cold that there was snow on the ground in places, and that I needed warmer clothing.

The idea was totally beyond her. The coldest she could imagine was a cool night, perhaps cool enough that several of the People would snuggle together to share warmth. Clothes, to her mind, are for adornment and occasionally for protection from the sun, not for warmth. Why would anyone want to leave the fur on hides, except for occasional festival adornment? In preparing hides for clothing was not the first step to remove all flesh and hair, so that only the skin remained?

Were the furs worn by the northern hunters as stiff as my leopard skin?

Today I found proof that they are not.

I have been spying on the hunters when I find them, but keeping out of sight. Today, however, I found where one of the hunters, probably too old to dodge his prey, had been killed instead of killing. A pack of wolves was feasting on his remains, but I used the warnoff to drive them away long enough that I could examine the body.

Physically, I found nothing to contradict my earlier impressions. But the furs he wore, however crudely tailored, were as soft as my loincloth.

He had no further use for them, I told myself, and took them to show Rainbow that hides could indeed retain the fur and still be flexible. But I made sure not to teleport back any of the living creatures that infested them. Fleas and lice I do not need!

Jarn’s Journal is part of the remote back story of the Jarnian Confederation, in which most of my science fiction is set. Jarn is a human-like alien who was stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago and has contacted some of our remote ancestors. He is currently trying to explore Europe, and since he is starting his years on the northward equinox it’s getting cold there. The journal to date is on my author site.

Quotes from Anne McCaffrey

Here are the contexts of the quotes tweeted from @sueannbowling between November 21 and November 27, 2013. All but the last are from The Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey.

Crystal Singer Cover“Dead’s dead—crystal, char or carrion.” Caragana’s response to Borella’s displays of how death can occur on Ballybran

“It is the manner of dying that can be the worst.” Borella’s response to Caragana.

“This high [stellar] activity … ensures that Ballybran has interesting weather.” Interesting in the sense of “May you live in interesting times.”

“The final portion of any journey always seems the longest.” Killashandra’s thought as the shuttle is maneuvering to land on Ballybran.

“A restriction is only restricting because you know it exists.” Killashandra, when someone brigs up the fact that they may never leave Ballybran.

“Every profession has terms that sound familiar and are dangerous to the incompletely initiated.” Killashandra is wondering just what the exact meaning of “brought in” is on Ballybran.

“She’s got more faith in me than I do.” Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling. Lai is speaking, after the captain of the Bounceabout is perfectly willing to follow his lead lifting off Mirror in the storm.

The sun near its highest.

The sun near its highest.

The sun will rise at 10:01 this morning, and set 5 hours 12 ½ minutes later at 3:14 this afternoon. The darkness is definitely closing in, though the reduction in day length each day has slowed down as midwinter approaches. The sun never gets as much at 5° (10 times its own diameter) above the horizon – never above the trees south of my house. Out driving, it seems it’s always in my eyes, and appointments and shopping need to be carefully timed.

Driving is a pain this time of year.

Driving is a pain this time of year. This is looking nearly due south close to solar noon.

Our forecast for the next week is mostly cloudy with some chance of snow and snow showers, and temperatures going back and forth through 0°F.  That’s about normal for this time of year, though it can be much warmer or colder. Traditionally, we can expect 40 below weather any time near or after Thanksgiving, though this year’s forecast is nearer 0.

This year I’m looking forward to attending two annual events that I normally miss because it’s too dark to drive. A friend will be driving me, and I’m getting the tickets for both of us. I already have those for the Symphony’s holiday concert, and for the first time I’ll manage to see the North Star Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker. I’ll have to dig out my DVDs (I have three versions, not counting the Disney one) and compare. Maybe I’ll even write up a review.

Photo on 2013-11-23 at 17I think my hair is coming in wavy, though most of it’s too short to be sure.

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It’s Sunday again, and time for Weekend Writing Warriors (click on the logo above) and Snippet Sunday (click on the logo below.) Today I’m posting 8 sentences from my first published book, Homecoming available in all formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

This is a continuation from last week, when Derik joined the boys at the table where they are all eating (or rather cramming in food) to counter esper shock. A little creative punctuation has been used to adhere to the 8 sentence limit.

V 838 Monocertis

V838 Monocertis September 2006. (Photo Credit)

Roi’s head was down and he looked miserable.

“Do you understand what happened?” Derik finally asked.

“Something in my head lashed out at Nik and you. It wasn’t deliberate; I thought I’d fixed it so that wouldn’t happen again, but somehow it did anyway. I’m sorry, really I am, but I don’t understand why it happened.”

“Again?” Derik said sharply.

Roi seemed to pull in on himself even more.  “I think I killed a man once, an overseer,” he said tonelessly.

So it wasn’t intentional, but what can they – or Roi – do about it?


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Year 8, Day 230

I think I saw one of the northern hunters today.

It was quite a distance from where I met and killed the pig – I’ve been careful not to go back to the immediate vicinity of that spot. True, I have interfered with one sentient species, and I will continue to do so. I cannot stand to be alone again. But one species is enough. I will not bear the guilt of a similar interaction with this new species.

The People travel in search of game, following the rains. The group I saw seem to migrate also, but in response to temperature rather than moisture. There is now snow on the higher peaks, and the group or possibly family I saw appeared to be traveling toward the warmer coastline. They wore furs, which are so warm as to be punishing among the People, but I found myself coveting them in the mountains..

This species is even less R’il’nian-like than the People in many ways. Their skin and hair are lighter than that of the People, who are toward the darker end of the R’il’nian spectrum. Reasonable, as the People live in a very sunny climate. This area is a good deal cloudier, especially as we move toward the local winter, so heavy pigmentation would actually be somewhat of a handicap.

They are also built somewhat more heavily, with barrel chests and heavily muscled limbs. It’s hard to be sure of relative size at a safe distance, but I suspect they are not too different. Probably they mass more, though I imagine there is overlap between the two species in height.

The faces are quite different, with heavy brow ridges, large noses and little forehead, but with a great deal of brain case at the back of the skull. This suggests a difference in the brain organization, but without careful observation I cannot know what the difference is. Some of the differences appear to be cold adaptation, but not all. For the moment, I had better leave them alone.

Jarn’s Journal is the fictional journal of a human-like alien who was stranded in Africa about 125,000 years ago. The Journal to date can be found in its entirety on my author site


It’s Cold up Here!

Clear skies Wednesday, 32 below zero (F) and the sun is effectually gone for the winter at my house. This was taken near solar noon yesterday, looking out my south window. Doesn’t help that the kitchen-living room heating zone has gone out.

P.S. it’s back this morning. Could a need for new batteries in the thermostat do that? I did change them yesterday.

Snow on trees 11:20:13

Quotes from Mercedes Lackey

These are the contexts of the quotes that were tweeted from @sueannbowling between November 14 and November 20, 2013.

cover, Snow Queen“Not even a Wonder-Smith can mend a heart when it is broken.” The Snow Queen, by Mercedes Lackey. Illmari’s statement after he realizes that the Icehart has a broken heart.

cover, Sleeping Beauty “Patience and ethics were not something dark magicians worried about.” The Sleeping Beauty, by Mercedes Lackey. One of the problems caused by the Tradition was that those fated to reenact Traditional pathways accumulated a great deal of magic – which could be harvested by the unscrupulous as well as by the Godmothers.

“There were pitfalls to relying too much on Magical protections.” The Sleeping Beauty, by Mercedes Lackey.Primarily because there was only so much that Magic could do, especially when working against Tradition.

“Nothing killed mint.” The Sleeping Beauty, by Mercedes Lackey.Which was why mint was still growing near the Dwarfs’ hovel. (Actually, Interior Alaskan winters will kill most varieties of mint.”

“A Princess was ill-suited to being a servant and cook.” The Sleeping Beauty, by Mercedes Lackey.Not so much a matter of knowledge, as just not having the right muscles and not being accustomed to being filthy.

“I can tell when it is frustration speaking.” The Sleeping Beauty, by Mercedes Lackey.The mirror-servant, when Godmother Lily apologizes for shouting at him.

“Anything’s better than this.” Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling. Ander’s response when Cory suggests that he let Roi try to Heal his migraine.

Alaskan yardThe sun will rise this morning at 9:38, and set just less than 6 hours later, at 3:33 this afternoon. If the sky should clear today (which I don’t expect) the sun might shine briefly through the trees to the south, but it certainly won’t rise above them – it’s now less than 6° above the horizon at its highest. Given next week’s forecast, the sun probably won’t touch my windows again until well into January.

Winter may be a month away officially, but that didn’t save us from two winter storms last week, with a mixture of rain and snow making the roads so slick that school was canceled. (It takes quite a bit to cancel schools in Alaska.) I considered Snowy branchmyself lucky that the power was out here for only a few hours; the wind (unusual here in winter) took down a number of trees. Small branches sticking out of the snow were all I noticed in the yard. I don’t expect more wind (though given the direction of the jet stream it wouldn’t surprise me) but the forecast for the next week is cloudy with snow showers. And some people still don’t have power.

Me 11-17-13I didn’t dare try driving until Saturday, and kept well below the speed limits then. There’s a coating of ice on the roads that will last until it wears off – not a good start for the winter. Outdoor latches are frozen, too – I had to break some open. At least the neighbor who is kind enough to plow my driveway managed to get the storm door to close!

My hair is actually getting long enough to feel rough against the way it wants to grow. No sign it might come in curly, though.

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Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors (click on the logo above) and Snippet Sunday (click on the logo below.) I’m still blogging the same scene from Homecoming, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. This is a direct follow-on from last week, when Derik realizes that the mental (and to some extent physical) explosion they had suffered was only a fraction of Roi’s potential.

V838 Monocerotis

V838 Monocerotis Dec 2002 Photo Credit

[Derik] had told Kaia that a self-trained esper was always cause for concern, but he’d never expected anything like this! None of them had, and as far as he knew none of Roi’s owners had even suspected Roi’s esper abilities. “I’d have thought he’d have reacted to Florian at some point,” he said shakily. “Nik, can you make it back to the table if I help you? Vara’s got some food there, and the boys are already converging on it.”

Coryn and Ander were both shoveling in food and taking turns feeding Roi by the time the two men made it to the table. Derik considered suggesting Roi and Ander change into dry clothes, but it didn’t seem very important in the heat of the summer noon. His own head was still pounding, and he envied the two older boys their resilience.

By the way Derik, Nik and Kaia have been named as Roi’s guardians in the absence of his father, Lai. Nik has also been trying to straighten out Florian, who was a little too much for his parents to handle. It’s a complicated relationship, and you’ll have to get the book to understand all the nuances. It’s pretty reasonably priced as an ebook.

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Year 8, Day 211

It’s taken me quite a few days to locate Little Gnu’s group and talk to him, but he has confirmed my suspicions. Neither of the weapon points was made by the People.

Maybe I’d better back up a little, since it’s been a while since I updated this journal.

When I teleport whole game to Rainbow, I let her do the cleaning and then teleport away what she says is waste. I tried leaving the innards behind, but it seems she has uses for some of them. At any rate, the pig (which was excellent eating, by the way) had a spear point and a short length of broken shaft in its lungs.

Pistachio tree (Photo source)

Pistachio tree (Photo source)

The point looked rather like the one I had found earlier, on the shore of the fish lake. They looked to me as if they were made in quite a different way from the method Little Gnu taught me, so I tracked him down and asked him. He agreed that there were others who looked like the People and made tools, but did not think that these chipped stone points had been made by any of them. In particular, he found the fastening of the bit of shaft to the point totally strange.

So what am I to make of this information?

Some creature similar to the People – and myself – put that spear in the animal’s lungs. Probably they planned to track the injured animal until it was slowed by loss of blood and shock, which by the way it was staggering when I first saw it would have immobilized it very shortly. If they had anything like the skill of the People in tracking, they would have tracked it to where I had teleported the carcass away, and possibly found my footprints. They must have been quite puzzled when both the pig and my footprints vanished.

I don’t think I should go back to that exact area, even if Rainbow has suggested that another pig (and more of the nuts) would be welcome.

Jarn’s Journal is part of the remote back story of my science fiction, set in the Jarnian Confederation. It is supposedly the journal of Jarn, a human-like alien stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago. He has been exploring the north shores of the Mediterranean, specifically in the southwestern Balkans, although his home base is in the southern African Rift Valley.