Saturday, November 26, 2005

Journal Reader's Digest

As usual, the following journal entry is not an endorsement of whatever ad may be shown above it.

Just when you think I've abandoned Musings entirely, here I am with another entry.  I just thought I'd bring you up to date with a little promo of what I've been reading and writing this past week.

1.  The AOL banners controversy rages on. 

Despite my frequent homilies about how this should not be a battle between factions of journalers, those who stay and those who go, there are still rather extreme expressions of anger here and there, many of them directed at the wrong people. This situation is not the fault of any journaler, John or Joe, or even the advertisers.  This is a decision that AOL's execs made. 

People are legitimately angry for a whole host of reasons, some of them going back months or years; and other people legitimately don't see what all the fuss is about.  Some people are so convinced that their point of view is the only one that they feel the need to attack anyone who disagrees.  There's probably a fair bit of natural aggressiveness in some cases, seizing on the opportunity to wreak havoc. 

The result is that the same little battles between journalers, and factions of journalers, that have always been part of J-Land, now have a new excuse to exist. Is this community?  Is this the spirit of J-Land?  I don't think so, but that kind of useless, destructive behavior has always existed, and will continue to exist.

It's up to the rest of us to maintain the positive qualities of the J-Land legacy, on and off AOL itself.  Remember, as I keep saying, and many others keep saying, it's only a web address.  An interesting journal or blog is no less so if it does or does not have .aol or .blogspot (or something else) in the name.

2.  AOL's Spin Doctor: 

I read three very similar articles this week in the semi-mainstream press (led by The Washington Post) about the journal ads controversy.  I'm not going to bother with links; I'm sure you can find them easily, and probably have already done so.  What strikes me about all three is that they reported a claim from an AOL press liaison that only "several dozen" people had complained.  None of the articles even suggested that this number might be understated.  Shame on them!  I saw a listing today of nearly 70 ex-AOL blogs, and I know for a fact that the list is incompete.  Add to that all the people who complained but did not actually leave, and it adds up to a heck of a lot more than 36 people.  I'd love to know what the real numbers are.  It still sounds like a tiny number compared to the many thousands of AOL Journals in existence, but there are two mitigating factors:  1) many of those journals, probably at least half, are abandoned or largely inactive, and 2) it is a truism in p.r. generally that for everyone who bothers to complain about anything to a company, there are probably ten others who are griping in private to friends and family.

3.  Am I Playing To An Empty House?

This being Saturday night, I've posted my latest fiction entry over on Messages from MavarinHeirs of Mavarin, Chapter One, Part Three.  (Rats.  I just went to the trouble of putting in the accents, only to take them out again because of AOL's nonstandard characters glitch.)  Messages has been my fiction-only blog since June, 2004, so it continues to be the logical place to post my fiction entries. 

I used to cross-post them here, but I cannot, will not do so while this accent glitch continues.  Chances are excellent that I will never post fiction on AOL again.  What a sad end to my brief co-reign as the VIVI winner for best fiction/poetry journal!  I can't even add the graphic for that to my sidebar here, because to do so would mean losing my last remaining properly-spelled use of the word Mavarin.  Drat.

Anyway, the point of this rant is that I would be grateful if you would continue to read my fiction anyway, on the same blog where it's always been--even if it does have blogspot in the URL.  And if you do, please leave me a comment, will you?  I'm currently serializing the first two chapters of my first novel, my best, most polished piece of fiction to date, thirty years in the making, literally my life's work.  If nobody cares enough to even read it, I may just curl up and die.  And you don't want that, do you?  Well, do you?

Karen - main blog - fiction blog.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Blogger's Pop Quiz

* This journal does not endorse the advertisements at the top of this page. *

No, wait.  This is interesting.  The current ad is a drug company pledging matching donations to fight HIV/AIDS.  I DO support that, but I don't necessarily endorse the drug the company is advertising at the same time.

Cross-posted from Outpost Mavarin, so that as many people will see it as possible:

Here's a short math quiz for you.

1. You have ten friends in J-Land, each of whom has an AOL Journal. Then AOL places banner ads on those journals without prior notice, and releases a buggy "upgrade" that makes it nearly impossible to post without taking heroic measures. Within the week,

  • Three of your friends continue to blog on AOL exclusively.

  • Three more set up Blogger accounts but also keep their AOL Journals going with occasional posts, mostly griping about AOL.

  • Three switch to Blogspot entirely, either letting their AOL Journals lie fallow or taking them private with no readers.

  • One is so upset with the diaspora and ongoing technical difficulties that he stops posting entirely.

How many of these people have betrayed you?
  a) Six
  b) Four
  c) Three
  d) One
  e) Zero

2. You learn that someone has been harrassing the three people who stuck with AOL exclusively, and that someone else is harrassing the three who switched to Blogspot exclusively. Meanwhile, of the three people who had blogs on both services, one decides to go back to AOL for most of her blogging, one decides to keep both blogs going indefinitely, and one decides it's time to make the switch to Blogspot for everything. How many of these people are doing something wrong?

  a) Five
  b) Four
  c) Three
  d) Two
  e) One

  1. e) Zero. None of these people are doing anything to you. They are merely trying to make the best of a difficult situation. All anyone has really cost you is the convenience of AOL Alerts. And we all know how buggy those have been lately!

  2. d) Two. Nobody should be harrassing anyone. The rest are just trying to get on with their lives and blogs.

I've been reading all weekend of people giving each other grief for leaving AOL or not leaving AOL. I've also read a few reports that some people are feeling betrayed by journalers who left AOL, and refuse to read their new blogs on other services. Come on, people! it's only a web address! There is no need for an Us and Them mentality here. If we continue to read and comment (without rancor) on each other's blogs, write the best entries we can, and post our best pictures, then we still have a community. And that's what we all want, isn't it?


Thursday, November 17, 2005

A reminder - I do NOT condone or support the advertisement found above this entry - whatever it is. Nuts to B of A, Quisno's and the rest.

This may be "cheating," but I'm just generating an alert here to tell you I did the Weekend Assignment there.  I've been blogging a couple of times a day - are you keeping up? 

Outpost Mavarin - my new main blog

Messages from Mavarin (for my Saturday fiction entry)

Interesting - now I can't even reach the subject line after the fact.

More Ruination

Now even the title of this journal is ruined, and I can't get to the subject line of this entry.  (I got to it on Edit Entry afterward.)

I'm.  Very.  Angry.

The heck with this!  Come see me at

where the word Mavarin is still spelled correctly.  I'm still posting (at least) daily there.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Exile to Outpost Mavarin

Mavarin flagHey, I had plans for tonight's entry.  They weren't great plans, but still, they were plans.  I wanted to do a photo essay about Sleeping Beauty's Castle and Cinderella's castle, the history of both and the differences between them.  Instead, I'm at the relatively calm center or a maelstrom of mercantilism, marauders, malfeasance and mishaps.

If you've been on any AOL Journals at all today, you know about the major controversy du jour.  AOL added banner ads to the journals of paid subscribers overnight.  People are livid about this.  There have been over 100 comments to a By the Way entry asking for feedback, nearly all of them outraged.  Becky has gone on strike, Carly has made her journals inaccessible, and lots and lots of journalers have changed their journal names, descriptions and About Me descriptions in protest. Even AOL's biggest booster, Vivian, after whom the VIVI Awards were named, has filled her journal with the red of anger and many repetitions of a single sentence.

Many journalers are diverting traffic to non-AOL blogs--or will be, once they get them up and running.  I'm one of them.  Until AOL relents, if ever, my main blog will be Outpost Mavarin at  It's not set up just the way I like it, with all the links and stuff, but many of those links are likely to change anyway, because of AOL's poor business decision.  Eventually I'll get it under control - or I'll be back here.  Maybe I'm naive, but I think AOL underestimated the reaction to this, and will step back from the precipice.  If not, well, it's been real, froods. Either way, Musings will stay live for now, so that you can still follow the links and read the 500+ back entries.  Archiving and reposting all that is gonna be a heck of a lot of work!

Personally, I'm not all that upset about the banner ads.  This should have been a predictable response to AOL's shrinking subscriber base.  What I resent is that AOL didn't take into account the fact that adding such things, without warning, without an opt-out, without subscriber input, without a choice, would irretrievably damage the company's relationship with the active journalers, the very people whose efforts made AOL an attractive venue.  Add to that the major glitches that accompanied this dubious enhancement, and we've got the ingredients for wrecking over two years of J-Land community building in less than a day.

But that's not the only bad thing to happen in the last 24 hours.  Not by a long shot.  Also:

1. My friend and co-worker had her house broken into - in MY neighborhood!  There was nothing valuable there except lots of papers to go through for identity theft purposes.  Judging from the fact that the papers had been disturbed, that was indeed the purpose of the break-in.

2. Another co-worker reported today that her daughter was in a car accident last night.  She wasn't hurt,  but the vehicle was undrivable.  She waited four house for the police to show, gave up and went home to her baby--and then the cops complained about this.  This is the same co-worker who is waiting to return to her house after a fire in September.

3. On my way back from lunch, I assed a five car pile-up on Wilmot, not far from the infamous intersection where I take my life in my hands every day, trying to cross the street between my car and my office.

4.  Yet another co-worker had her vehicle stolen today from a parking lot near that same intersection.

Does that give you any perspective, folks?  These banner ads in and of themselves are a mere blip, compared to the stuff that really counts.  The community that's being lost here - now, that counts, but that doesn't seem to be fixable except by AOL.

That's it for me for here for now.  Come see me in my new digs.


P.S.  Okay, now I am ticked off.  The word Mavarin, with the accent, worked in the Other Journals section - until tonight!  Now it comes out
Mâvarin, both there and in this entry.  Aargh! 

Main blog: 
Outpost Mavarin

Fiction blog: 
Messages from Mavarin

LiveJournal:memes, writing process, personal: Mavarin and Other Inspirations

If you have a new non-AOL blog, please leave a link!  I'll add you to the Outpost sidebar.  And if you're sitting on the sidelines right now, come see an idea I've cooked up to help. - KFB

Monday, November 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Two Landmarks!

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Display a picture you're taken of a famous man-made landmark. Significant buildings, big statues, great walls (particularly in China) -- it people put it together, it counts.

In my usual overboard way, I'm going to do this twice, with two landmarks.  #1 is kind of a picture-taking cliché, but I've got some unusual shots of it.  #2 might be a bit of a surprise coming from me.

#1:  Hey, it's Sleeping Beauty's Castle! But it looks different, somehow!

Sleeping Beauty's Castle, September 2005.

Although the Matterhorn, Space Mountain and even the Haunted Mansion are instantly recognizable for Disney fans around the world, Disneyland's most famous landmark is Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  This is the castle that Tinker Bell lit with fireworks for many years on tv; real fireworks still go off behind it most nights.   All the shots here are from September, 2005, but I could easily have added photos from the 1980s and 1990s.

Sleeping Beauty Castle stands at the end of Main Street USA, just past the park with its bronze statue of Walt and Mickey.  Through the archway is Fantasyland.  The drawbridge has only been opened twice in the castle's 50-year history: at the park's grand opening in July 1955, and at the rededication of Fantasyland in 1983 after major upgrades to the rides there.  On that occasion, according to one source, the drawbridge didn't quite go up all the way.

another angle

For the 50th Anniversary, the castle has gotten a major makeover.  Banners have been hung, the fresh paint includes gold leaf trim, and seven crowns have been added, each representing one of the Disney Princesses.  The coat of arms under the 50th Anniversary Ears logo is the Disney family crest.

Night shot, sans fireworks.

Here's another angle - looking up!  The castle is only 77 feet tall, but uses tricks of perspective to appear taller. 

Disneyland after dark - but no fireworks at this moment.

The castle is photographed almost as often at night as in the daytime.  No fireworks at that moment though.  Sorry!

One last shot - from behind!

Here's a much less celebrated view of the castle, as seen from Fantasyland.  The other castle on the right is the entrance to Snow White's Scary Adventure.  When the park first opened, this and other Fantasyland "dark rides" had only flat, painted facades.  These days, they look like real castles and manor houses, with lots of fun details for those who pay attention to such things.

2.  The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, March 1986

John may have taken this one.

When John and I wandered the country in early 1986, one of our stops was in St. Louis for a Star Trek convention and to see the sights.  This first photo, which may have been taken by John rather than me, is a little misleading.  Although it's in a park, the Arch is not in the middle of nowhere by any means.  We have photos of it behind downtown buildings (including our hotel, I think).  On the other side of the Arch is the mighty Mississippi itself, with riverboats docked there, including, as of 1986, a riverboat McDonald's.  Nevertheless, it's a very cool thing. 

John and the Arch.

This one was definitely taken by me.  John gets vertigo looking up at tall structures like this, but I had fun looking at it from different angles, and taking a few pictures.  I even took a tram ride inside the thing!  I was a little claustrophobic, but it wasn't unbearable.  The property includes a museum about westward espansion from St. Louis, the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and states added through 1900.  I was a little surprised that Arizona wasn't there, but I shouldn't have been.  It's the 48th state!

my favorite Arch shot.

This is my favorite shot.  It looks very futuristic from that angle, like something from a World's Fair.  This makes sense, because the Arch was completed in 1965, right after the second New York World's Fair.  The Gateway Arch celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.


Good news:  the roofers showed up today to do more work on the roof.  They haven't forgotten to finish the job after all!


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Supplemental Reading

If you don't want to read about issues related to the writing of fantasy novels, you can skip to the pictures at the bottom of this entry.  But I hope that you don't!

Becky asks,

Have you thought about writing a forward? A little something to explain the government, religion and political climate of Mâvarin? I've been curious all through the first book and into the second about what things like "Moneldu, 5th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY" really mean. This is just one of many comments and questions I have.

When I was seventeen years old, about the same time I first found Rani up in the beech tree, I loved to pore over the maps, character lists and end notes in Lord of the Rings, the Pern books and whatever else I was reading at the time.  I can't say I read every word of Tolkien's 134 pages of appendices at the end of The Return of the King, but I probably came close; and I consulted McCaffrey's maps and lists often.

an early Mâvarin map.

So as I started work on The Tengrim Sword, as I called my novel back then, I was thoroughly aware  how cool it could be - and how useful - to have lots of supplementary material for a book like that.  I commissioned my next door neighbor, Susan Keeter, to draw a map of Mâvarin, and I wrote an explanation of the Mâvarinû language, noting in passing that if it looked like a rabbit, I would call it a rabbit in the text, even though the rabbit was green.  I later decided that it was stupid to make the rabbits green, and established that with very few exceptions, the flora and fauna of Mâvarin are identical to those of the eastern United States.  It is, after all, an alternate universe version of the same place.  I myself grew up in Liftlabeth, but in my version of reality it's called Manlius, NY.

Beyond my character list and notes about the language, however, I largely shied away from writing too many appendices and such, largely for the same reason I didn't call a selmûn an elf.  (A selmûn is fully human, does not have pointed ears, and does not live for centuries.)  I didn't want my Mâvarin book to be an imitation of Tolkien.  If I sent off a manuscript with a foreword, a map, and six appendices, I would be sure to look like a fannish copycat with no original ideas of her own. 

So for thirty years, I've mostly kept my additional notes to myself.   I've posted notes on my web site about the religion and magic of Mâvarin, and my beta readers get my character list, with over 250 named characters.  But they don't get my list of inns, my crib sheet of important dates in Fayubi's and the country's history (a file called FabiTime), or the following notes for figuring out the date of any given incident in Mâvarin history:

FabiTime!Nishmudu = Nishmû’s Day ≈ Sunday
Masheldu = Mâshela’s Day ≈ Monday
Thaledu = Thâle’s Day ≈ Tuesday
Umvardu = Trinity Day ≈ Wednesday
Moneldu = Unity Day ≈ Thursday
Comerdu = Market Day ≈ Friday
Sabedu = Rest Day ≈ Saturday

Genorem ≈ January
Fredor ≈ February
Terchem ≈ March
Ranonem ≈ April
Sipadem ≈ May
Bupek ≈ June
Dortem ≈ July
Ogorem ≈ August
Mudelem ≈ September
Aterem ≈ October
Nefilem ≈ November
Celderem ≈ December

Nishmudu, 5th Day of Genorem, 881 MMY = Rani is born
= Sunday, January 5th, 1986
next day: Masheldu, 6th Day of Genorem, 881 MMY

Masheldu, 10th Day of Fredor, 881 MMY = Jor, twins kidnapped.
=Monday, February 10th, 1986

Comerdu, 14th Day of Fredor, 881 MMY = Jamek arrives in Liftlabeth with the twins.

So what's all this Comerdu jazz?  Why not just say, Wednesday, June 15th, 1582? 

Well, I'll tell you.  The single most important event in the history of Mâvarin and Mâton was their founding, 880 years before Rani was born.  Shortly after that, all contact with Londer and Parsi was lost.  Naturally, the people of the new countries would number their years from the Founding: Mâvarin / Mâton Years, or MMY.  (Let's just glide over the fact that their word for year may not begin with a Y, and that their alphabet is probably not our alphabet.  I can't write the whole book in Mâvarinû, can I?  I've got to draw the  line somewhere, so that people, including myself, can read and understand the thing!)

That's the explanation of the year part of the dating.  As for the months, they are not going to have a month called July, because their calendar is not a revision of one devised in the reign of Julius Caesar.  The ancestors of the Mâvarinû never worshiped Woden (Odin) and Thor, so they won't have a Wednesday (Woden's Day) or Thursday (Thor's Day).  No, their weekdays will be largely based on their own religion, and their month names will have to do with seasons and traditions and such.

All that said, I've thought seriously of leaving the date headings out of the novel manuscripts themselves.  I retain them mostly to help me keep my continuity straight, as I juggle three or four sets of character pursuing their own storylines.  But if an editor says, "Take it out," it's gone.

I just posted a newly-updated version of my notes on the languages on the Mâvarin web site tonight.  (Short version: if it's got an accent over it, it's a long vowel.)  And psst!  Becky!  The dominant and splinter religions of Mâvarin are thoroughly explored in Mages of Mâvarin.

Now that I've bored you all - the total lack of comments to last night's Heirs entry, except for faithful Becky, is seriously bumming me out - let me bring you up to date on the saga of the mice.

I released the surviving mouse before church this morning, up at Pantano Wash.  John declined to come along, and I had trouble opening the trap on my own.  When I finally got it open, mousie immediately poked his head out, leaped three feet from the trap in my gloved hands to the dusty ground, and bounded away, fast, hardly touching the ground between leaps.  Getting a good picture proved impossible, but here are the ones I managed:

Pantano Wash at 22nd St.

This is where I released the mousie - Pantano Wash, just south of 22nd St. at Pantano Parkway.

gray mousie, or brown mousie?

Would you say this is a gray mouse or a brown mouse?

Time to play Spot the Mousie!

Can you see the mousie?  He's little more than a blur - the critter was fast! 

If you're having trouble finding him, here's a hint.  He's between a rock and some burr sage.

Tonight I told John that there's at least one mouse still in the house.  I was pretty sure I'd heard one in my office.  John was not pleased with this news.  He's been searching the outside of the house for the mousies' way in, but to no avail.

Twenty minutes after that, a mouse and I startled each other in front of the fireplace.  So I cleaned out one of the humane traps and added fresh cheese.  I guess the story isn't over yet!


Of Mice and Men

I cropped the photo so that I wouldn't cry.We caught two mice tonight at Chez Blocher, after days and days of the humane trap being left unsprung, but stripped of its cheese.

I'm sorry to report that having been awakened by a mouse in the bedroom, John felt it necessary to set a conventional trap in there.  I went in the bedroom about a half hour after that, just in time to see a gray mousie die.  This saddens me.  Is this the mouse that repeatedly scurried past me on VIVI night, inspiring my "epic haiku?"

Half an hour after that upset, John had disposed of the dead mouse and was back in bed.  I was here in my office, tweaking my sidebar.  Yes, my sometimes-wonderful husband managed to restore modem access to my office today, by running a phone line in from outside to replace the one that the roofers probably broke or disconnected or something.  In doing so, John discovered a lot of shoddy and unfinished work on the roof:  no roof coating at all on the flat part of it, boards not flush, rotten wood left in place at the edges.  The washer on Halloween.This is in addition to the fallen debris in the hall closet, and the debris and dripped tar on top of our washing machine, both of which I was prepared to overlook until now.  John is upset.  So am I.  John wanted to be able to talk to the roofers more, and make sure everything was done right.  The one time I tried to do this in John's stead, back on Halloween, none of the men on the roof was willing to admit to speaking English, much less willing to talk to the homeowner.  Now I find out that those guys didn't finish the job.  We still owe $385 or something on our $5,000+ roof.  I won't be paying that until we get some answers, at the very least.

Anyway, the computer is now back in my office instead of the kitchen.  I was in here, blogging and tweaking, when I heard some mousy scuffling in here, somewhere between me and the outside wall.  A few minutes after that, more noises came from the next room, what I call the tv room and John calls the den.  I went out and looked.  The mouse is in here.Sure enough, the humane trap was closed.  I waited a minute or so, and the box moved as the mouse tried to get out.  Is that my intrepid gray mousie?  I probably will never know, but I hope it's a gray mouse at least, so I can pretend it's my haiku hero.  We'll know when we release it tomorrow.  I feel sorry for it in the meantime, flopping around it its little box, but at least it's alive.

I wanted to bring you an uplifting ending to my mousie story, or one last exploit of cheeky Gray Mousie, caught on digital camera, of a capture and release, and all right with the world.  The dead gray mouse in the bedroom ruins the story, and makes me sad.


Sorry, Carly.  I tried.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Fiction: Heirs of Mâvarin, Chapter One, Part One

The real deal!
Here it is: Chapter One, Scene One, Part One of the "final final" draft of Heirs of Mâvarin. Over the next couple of months I'll be posting two full chapters of this first novel of mine, 83 double-spaced pages.  I decided to do this for three reasons:

1. I want to give myself a break from writing new fiction every week, so I'll be free to concentrate on Heirs and/or Mages. The first has been almost ready for submission for several years now, and just needs a final tweaking.  The second one is a magnificent mess, but I've been making intermittent progress.

2. I want to promote the books themselves, even though I haven't actually sold them to a publisher yet. Hence the need for Reason #1.  

3. I want to show you my best work, as opposed to the flawed serials and the cryptic first person entries.

I'm a little nervous about this, to be honest.  If you don't care for it, I don't have the excuse, "Well, it's not my best writing!" to fall back on.  This is my life's work.  I started writing Heirs of Mâvarin nearly half a lifetime ago, under the title The Tengrim Sword [sic].  I have not worked on it every year since then, but I have worked on it every decade.  Heirs and I have come a very long way together, from high school student with a potpourri of mostly bad ideas to a mildly insecure writer with, I hope, a publishable manuscript.

I hope you like it.  A lot.

Oh, one more thing.  Being a novel instead of a serial per se, it has a somewhat leisurely opening, and doesn't necessarily have a cliffhanger every couple of pages.  If the ending of a particular installment seems a bit lame, that's why.


Heirs of Mâvarin
by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2005 by KFB

Chapter One: The Tengrem

Moneldu, 5th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY

Rani FostHalf-hidden among the serrated green leaves of the beech tree, Rani Fost watched and listened as the tanner and the blacksmith rode by on the River Road below.

“We barely get there, and they send us back this way,” Bil Gorben grumbled.  “What a waste of time.”  Looking down at him, Rani was surprised how small his master looked, compared to the barrel-chested blacksmith.  Jord Baret had a taller horse, which made him seem even bigger.  The one feature the two men had in common was their scarred, leathery skin, a result of their respective trades.

“What’s a waste of time?” Jord asked.  “The backtracking?” 

Bil shook his head.  “Hunting the tengrem at all is a waste of time.  Tengremen have been seen before, although not usually this far north.  A few pilfered sheep, and they go away again.”

“You’re crazy, Bil,” Jord said.  “The creatures are murderous when they go wild, which is often.  My sister lives down south near Gathmak.  She’s told me of times when tengremen were spotted, and whole families disappeared.”

“Disappeared, eh?  How does she know they didn’t just move away?”  Rani couldn’t see Bil’s face any longer, but could well imagine the tanner’s sardonic smile.

“I’m serious.  Ameth told me of that time about twelve years back....”  Rani listened in silence as Jord Baret’s voice faded beyond the bend in the road downstream.  Had they been different villagers, he might have called out to them, but Bil wouldn’t approve of his lurking in trees, only an hour after being sent home from the tannery.  Like Rani’s mom, Bil wouldn’t want Rani to be outside at all today, not with a tengrem around.

Rani had come here anyway, because the ancient beech tree seemed like a great place from which to track the progress of the hunt.  As a child he had spent many hours here, usually with his friend Del, watching for invaders or marauders or bandits.  No such persons had ever appeared, and the days of pretending they might were long behind him.  But today, Rani’s old lookout post was an ideal place from which to actually see something.  It was the largest of the trees that lined the river, dwarfing the young maples and willows around it; and the long grey branch he sat upon was as sturdy as the day he had first climbed up to it.  From here he had a good view over the brambles and black raspberry vines to the broad, quiet waters of the River Misis as it made its way toward Liftlabeth from the great city of Thâlemar.  More to the point, he could see a fair distance along the River Road as it followed the Misis through the woods where the hunt was going on.

Rani’s view downstream was not nearly as good, due to a bend in the road around several large trees, but it hardly mattered.  That way was the village of Liftlabeth, its market square half empty today as the craftsmen and farmers either joined the hunt or went about their work at home.  Nothing interesting was likely to come from that direction.

“Waste of time” or not, Rani wished he could have participated in the hunt.  His mother had become distraught at the suggestion, so Rani had reluctantly agreed to be left behind.  She had also warned him to stay inside, but Rani had ignored this request.  It was bad enough that the hunters faced the tengrem without him.  If Rani chose to sit up here out of harm’s way, and watch for passersby, surely at fifteen he was old enough to do so.

His mom wouldn’t agree with that, of course.  Rani was still a year and a half away from his sword and his independence.  Even then, Rani knew, his mother would keep him safe at home if she could, or at the tannery.  Why couldn’t she treat Rani like the adult he almost was?

Rani looked at his arm, nearly a man’s arm after his recent spurt of growth, and fairly well-muscled.  Its skin, in stark contrast to his mom’s paleness, was as brown in winter as it was now in midsummer.  Rani frequently wondered who his father had been, and what had happened to him that would make his mother attempt such a tight hold on the son that remained.  He had asked all the questions in many different ways, but her answer was always the same: “He was a Southerner, and a good man, but he’s gone.  That’s all you need to know.”

 She never answered his questions about tengremen, either, despite Rani’s suspicion that she had once lived near Gathmak, the forest wheremost tengremen lived.  When he asked, she always changed the subject.  So Rani sought his information elsewhere. This is not the same tengrem.He had memorized both of the selmûn songs about tengremen that Shela knew, and analyzed every detail of tengrem lore his friends Del and Crel had picked up from their uncle.  Tengremen had first appeared just a few years before Rani’s birth, probably the result of some mage’s experiments.  Now the kingdom held hundreds of the creatures, mostly at the southern end of the country. They were said to be the most dangerous predators alive, heavier than draft horses, more temperamental than half-starved bears.  Their lower bodies were horse-like, but a second, almost human torso rose from the equine shoulder.  This upper body was furred like a bear, its hands had claws, and its wolflike head bore a single yellow horn centered above the eyes. The strangest thing that Rani had heard about tengremen was that they were more than just animals.  They were reputed to be almost as intelligent as human beings, even capable of human speech at times. 

The tengrem that the villagers were hunting today was the first one seen this far north in nearly a decade.  Suri Pelch had caught it chasing his sheep two days before, and had shot three arrows at it.  The tengrem had retreated, but further sightings in and around Liftlabeth had led Jamek Barst—the village mayor, and Del’s uncle—to organize the hunt.

Rani’s brief glimpse of the tengrem that morning had mostly confirmed what he had heard, but provided few additional details.  A distant roar, and the sound of people yelling, had told Rani that the hunters and their quarry were passing nearby.  He had sneaked out of the leather shop, and joined Del in the pasture behind his uncle’s stable.  Even from there, the tengrem was too far away for a good look.  Rani saw little more than its general shape, the four equine legs that ended in shiny black hooves, and the two great hairy arms that ended in pink-clawed, five fingered hands.  The head and torso were brown and furry, like a mountain man’s coat; the dirty yellow horn in the forehead was long and slightly curved, and the mouth (or perhaps the lupine nose) spouted fire as it ran. 

The tengrem had turned once to face its pursuers,and a horse shied as flame touched its legs.  Then the tengrem bolted for the woods at the village’s edge, and the hunters plunged in after it.

All art by Sherlock, copyright 2004. - my website, introducing the world and the characters.

Messages from Mâvarin (BlogSpot: use sidebar to get to individual installments of past fiction).

Related entry:

A Letter from Rithe Fost

Friday, November 11, 2005

Doing It Right, Doing It Wrong

Let's start off tonight's entry with a few sunset photos, basically 'cause I've lucked into some decent sunset photo opportunities this week as I left work.

Sunset from the second floor, 11/10/05
Sunset from the parking lot, 11/10/05
The first two shots here are of the view that greeted me when I left the accounting department last night.  Sunset from the second floor.  Awesome. 
Sunset in the parking lot, 11/10/05.

The third one was taken in the parking lot itself. 

Sunset from Fifth and Wilmot, 11/10/05

The fourth was taken at Fifth and Wilmot.  Sometimes I play with color correction and midtones, but the only thing I did to these was resize them (and crop the first one a bit).

Ooh.  Ahh. 

Moving on.

Since the VIVI Awards, I've followed a lot of links to many other journals.  Some of these links were from congratulatory comments, some from VIVI winners, and some, of course, were from Round Robin participants.  Of all of those posted links, two stand out in my memory as a study in contrasts.  I'm not going to point to them, because I'm about to be less than enthusiastic about one of the journals involved, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  But I'm certain you can figure it out with a little research, if you feel like bothering to do that. 

The comments were both posted to the same entry of mine.  One of them was very much a "value added" comment.  It responded favorably to the content of the entry, added an original and relevant bit of humor, and concluded with a link to the commenter's journal.  This person has commented here before, and I've been to the journal before, and liked what I've seen.  It's not on my alerts yet, but probably will be soon.

That, my friends, is doing comments right.

The next comment to that entry made no mention whatsoever of the content of my post.  Instead, the person mentioned having found a link to my journal, and invited me, in a run-on sentence, to visit hers if I was bored.  I was not bored, but out of politeness I went anyway.  What I found was exactly the kind of illiterate journal I wrote about the other day, the sort that makes me leave and never come back.  This person has no clear understanding what a sentence is, uses punctuation in all the wrong ways and none of the right ones, and has little or no interest in using upper case letters.  Feh.

That, my friends, is wrongful and ineffective use of comments.  When someone shows no evidence of having read anything in my journal, blatantly pushes her own, and shows me only banal thoughts poorly expressed when I go to see it, she accomplishes nothing - nothing good, anyway.  She did manage to annoy me and waste my time.  That's something, I suppose, but surely not the desired result!

I did not leave a comment.  I did not even read the whole entry.  I just left.

Lately I've been seriously tempted to post weekly quizzes about correct English, with humorous examples.

And then I came across another positive example, a nearly miraculous instance of journaling done right.

For some time now, Paul Little has been putting together CarnivAOL, a promotional linkfest that people can get into basically just by asking.  The idea is to choose your very best recent entry, so that other people will have the opportunity to follow Paul's link and come see it.  Generally speaking, I've shied away from this, partly because most of my best stuff gets linked to by John Scalzi or the Round Robins, and partly because I'm a little uncomfortable with self-promotion.  But I recently submitted a link to CarnivAOL for the first time ever, and tonight Paul published that list.  My link is to the first of the recent Black Rose Kate entries, because I'm really proud of what Kate wrote (well, dictated) in that.

All of this is beside the point, however.

Y'see, the thing is, so far tonight I've followed two of the other CarnivAOL entries, and will probably get to the rest tomorrow.  One of them was interesting, well-written, and horribly, horribly marred by typos.  I could not leave a comment, so I left.  Ah, but the other!  The other was nothing short of wonderful.  Here's the link:

Remember When...

This is from a journal by a young high school senior (age 16, I think).  The entry is about her last-ever practice session as a goalie for a high school soccer team.  Never having been good at sports myself, I normally would have little interest in something like that, but her writing was so superb, so evocative, that she made me care about every word of it.  Later entries were full of lively writing, humor, a playful and idiosyncratic use of language, real emotion, interesting incidents, wry observations, and concrete detail.  Man, oh man, this girl can write!  Go see for yourself.

This, my friends, is blogging done right!

Half-hearted photo of a little corporate garden.

Let's close this entry with another photo or two, for no adequately explored reason. 2 butterflies.  Don't ask me what kind. I took them with Steven in mind, he of the many extraordinary butterfly-and-flower photos.  Yesterday and today--well, all week, really--a flowerbed near my office has been alive with butterflies.  There have been Monarchs, and something like Monarchs only smaller, and those little yellow butterflies, and, well, actually, I haven't paid that much attention.  I'm really not much of a fan of flowers or insects, to tell you the truth.  Flowers especially are something I usually avoid, because I tend to be strongly ambivalent about anything to which I'm allergic. 

Nevertheless, there were the flowers and the butterflies, and I was right there with the camera.  So I pointed the camera in the general direction of the flowers, failed utterly to find any butterflies in the viewfinder, and snapped a few photos anyway.  That was yesterday. 

Today I made a bit more of an effort, but not much.  This time, I actually saw movement before I snapped the picture.  Sure enough, there were at least two butterflies in the photo.  Here's a cropped image from the larger picture  It can't hold a candle to the least of Steven's shots, but I lack his talent, his patience and his camera.  But I did get the photo anyway, lame as it is, so I'm satisfied for now.

That, my friends, is not photography done right.  Still, I think I've earned your forgiveness with the sunset photos.


Not Your Usual Subscriptions

Weekend Assignment #85: What magazines do you subscribe to and why? This assumes you currently subscribe to a magazine or two, of course, but I'm reasonably confident most of us do. If you don't have any current subscriptions, however, you can list some of your most recent subscriptions or magazines you want to subscribe to.

Extra Credit: What was your first magazine subscription?

All my subscriptions to mass market magazines have lapsed. TV Guide?  There's no point any more.  On the rare occasions when I watch anything other than House, Bones or a DVD, I can always look stuff up online or on the tv itself.  Newsweek?  I let Mom's subscription die, a year or two after she did, 'cause I wasn't getting around to reading it.  Reader's Digest?  Ditto.  MacAddict?  John would snarf the CD-ROMs and stick them in a desk drawer. I would usually read the Letters section, and that was that.  Think of it as the Mâvarin Enquirer.When was the last time I fired up the Mac?  It's been a while, that's for sure.

Here are the two magazines I do subscribe to. 

Mâvarin Monthly is kind of muckraking and sensationalistic, but its reporters are extremely good at finding out what's really going on at the Palace and elsewhere. Somewhat complicit in the old regime prior to the Restoration, the Monthly has been making the most of its freedom of the press since the Awers' fall from power.  I mostly read it for the newsmakers' interviews, but I also enjoy the magazine's lively arts section. 

For a different perspective, I also read The Citadel, which is published out of Mâton.  It's definitely biased, which isn't too surprising, considering it's government-controlled.  Nevertheless, it's interesting, and a good way to understand the politics and culture of the mages' island nation.

The Journal of Contemporary Time Travel
is not as fluff-oriented as its cover would indicate.  Oh, Boy!  An Interview with Josh!There are some serious articles in here about the Laws of Time (both physical and legislative), dealing with paradox, and other stuff the serious time traveler needs to know.  This one, too, I often read for the interviews, especially the ones that are more about theory, and less  about "My Lunch with Genghis Khan."  The biggest problem with this one is figuring out when the subscription expires.

Extra Credit:  I remember that I used to get Jack & Jill magazine back in second grade or so, plus Weekly Reader at school; but that was not something I did for myself, obviously.  I think my first subscription that I paid for was TV Guide, but it may have been National Wildlife


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Absent Friends

the necklace we shared is mine now.I'm missing Kate tonight, and it occurs to me that I haven't yet told you what little I know about her abrupt departure. 

Last week, as you may recall, I expressed concern that if Black Rose Katie Specks didn't somehow make it back to her own time, she would soon be resuming her life of crime, right here in the 21st Century.  When I discussed the issue with Kate herself over the weekend, she didn't even bother to deny it.  So when I got home on Monday and she wasn't here, my first thought was that she got tired of waiting to be mysteriously returned home, and hitchhiked down to Nogales or Naco to become a smuggler; or else that she'd gotten in trouble trying to rob a bank. 

But there was nothing on the news about a bank robbery, or about anyone trying to rob anyone with only a flintlock gun for a weapon, or crossing the border into Mexico in a pirate outfit and with no identification.  Furthermore, there was nothing missing from my house, not even the clothes I loaned to Kate.  Even the necklace that Kate loaned to me for the VIVI Awards was still here.   Had she left on her own, I doubt very much that she would have foregone the chance to steal anything that she might find useful.  She was grateful for my hospitality, but not that grateful.  All things considered, then, it was starting to look as though my friend the pirate had disappeared the same way she appeared - mysteriously, suddenly and involuntarily. 

I hoped that meant that she did return to the late 18th Century, but there didn't seem to be any historical record of her - not online, anyway.  Google turned up quite a few results for "pirate Kate," but most of them are either an Internet handle or clearly fictional, including a pirate's daughter in an old novel, a woman who meets a time traveling pirate in a recent novel (!), and one of the daughters in The Pirates of Penzance.  Maybe Katie Specks didn't make it home after all, or maybe she did nothing under the name Kate that was noteworthy enough to make the pirate websites. 

It wasn't until last night that I noticed a Word file on the desktop of my computer, one I never put there.  The file name was "To Karen."  Thinking it might be a note of farewell from Black Rose Kate,  I opened it up and read:

The file on the desktop.Karen -

I write this in haste, because, as you might say, "my ride is here," and cannot wait.  Her name is Ariel - or so she claims.  She is certainly no airy spirit (or mermaid - I did glance through your Disney collection over the weekend).  She also claims to be indirectly responsible for my having been beached here in the desert with you.  In the final of her three claims, she proposes to take me home.  I have decided to put this third claim to the test!

Thank you for your hospitality, patience and friendship.


That Disobedient Wench,

Black Rose Katie Specks


Underneath this, in a different color font, was a second, more surprising note:

Dear Karen:

I found out about your "house guest" earlier today while Googling for evidence of disturbances in time in your version of reality.  When I read your journal entries about Black Rose Kate, I realized that I ought to "swing by," as you put it, and get her safely home.

Based on similar recent incidents in this part of the Multiverse, I'm pretty sure that Kate's arrival in Tucson was a side effect of what I've been calling a "leak" in my pandimensional sports car.  I think you'll agree that a sports car is a much more practical way of traveling than my dad's castle is--if I can get it working properly.  I know that you know about Toujours Chez Moi, because I saw it mentioned in your story Mall of Mâvarin.  Cathy and Carl are fine, by the way.  Your imagination seems to be pretty closely tied in with worlds my dad and I move through on a regular basis.  Intriguing!  Kate is not from your reality, any more than I am, so in a way you were right to make the contradictory claims that she was both fictional and real.

I'd love to stay and say hello in person, but I have a test in the morning.  I'd better get Kate back to her bit of space-time, and then go study.  The test is on A Wrinkle in Time, and I haven't finished reading the book yet!

Your Imaginary Friend (LOL!),

Ariel Allegra
(Joshua Wander's daughter)

I don't know why I'm so shocked about this.  After all, Joshua Wander himself once bought tickets at Worldwide Travel while I worked there.  Why shouldn't his daughter borrow my laptop for a few minutes?

By the way, I also found my notebook, the one in which Black Rose Kate wrote a brief version of her life story.  I'll share that with you another time, but for now I'll tell you this much: she was not born with the name Kate or Katherine, or anything like that. 

Fair weather and safe harbor, Kate!


Where's brown mousie? I saw a mouse again tonight, briefly, but wasn't able to get a picture (of course).  Instead, here's a picture of the patch of scrub where we let brown mousie go.  Can you spot brown mousie in the photo? Neither can I, but I think he's there somewhere!

The mouse I saw tonight looked a little more brown than gray.  How many mousies are in this house right now?  One?  Two?  More?  If we do catch gray mousie, and if gray mousie turns out to be female, I'm naming her Kate.  Then I'm letting her go, probably in the same place as brown mousie.

Oh, and this big black rat is one of my Halloween props.  John added the plastic snake to its mouth  the year I was Not Rani. 


Where's brown mousie?
A little tribute to my favorite pirate  

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Wabi-Sabi and the Shy Hero's Adventures

This Round Robin Challenge, "wabi-sabi," (as suggested by Coy) threw me at first.  Even with Carly's explanation, I was unsure what the concept meant, and what I could photograph to illustrate it.  mouse-eye view of the carpetWikipedia says that the wabi-sabi aesthetic "is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete."  The entry goes on to quote Andrew Juniper as saying, "if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi sabi."

Uh, okay.  I sorta kinda understand now, and I know what I want to photograph for this. Unfortunately, the subject isn't cooperating!

This entry is supposed to be about one of the mice that periodically invade our house. (Your first reaction may be "eww" or "eek," but the truth is that this is absolutely the cutest little gray mouse you could ever hope to see.)  This particular gray mousie got extra rambunctious on the night of the VIVI awards chats, and showed himself repeatedly.  I was within two feet of him several times, but I was never able to catch him on camera. So instead you're getting a perversion of the assignment: pictures of where Gray Mousie has been, accompanied by my usual long-winded perversion of Japanese poetry, what I call "epic haiku." Here we go:

The Adventures of Gray Mousie

a mousie hazard - my chair!

Gray mousie looks out
Across the darkened room
For signs of movement.

All is static, so
He takes off, runs for the door,
A streak of gray fur.
Gray mousie slips unseen
Beneath dark electronics
And stops to watch again.

Mousie's quick and bold:
Darts past human foot so fast,
Human eye gets lost.

the mousie's routea route to foodMousie knows the route:
Up the counter, 'neath the mail,
Then behind the sink.

Human looks at mouse:
Mousie knows she can't catch him.
In a flash, he's gone.

Mousie has found food:
Drying on fresh dinner plates,
Wedged in tines of forks.

Mousie cannot stay.
Tempting food is too exposed.
Mousie scampers on.

Down a power cord,
Mousie finds more hidden food,
Bounty from the stove.

All of this is true,
But gray mousie's more cautious
Since the VIVI night.

brown mousie cowers.

Brown mousie was caught,
Trapped in small gray box with cheese,
But gray mousie's free.

Both gray traps were shut,
Yet just brown mousie emerged
When we opened them.

Amid stones and weeds,
We let poor brown mousie go.
He stayed there, trembling.

Ever since the night
Both of the gray traps were sprung
Gray mousie's been scarce.

Has gray mousie outsmarted the no-kill box?
I hear him in the grate,
Catch a glimpse and whoops! He's gone.
Do I hear him now?

Mousie, I love you.
I wish that we could share this house,
But this must not be.

In the box you'll go,
To be released outside, where
You may yet survive.

Coyotes, cats and birds
Wait to eat you, little mouse.
Hide, gray mousie!  Hide!

The story's not ended, obviously.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Heh. Seems to me this is definitely wabi-sabi: it's incomplete (no resolution, and no picture of gray mousie) imperfect (in a perfect world, there would be no hidden way for a mouse to sneak in, and the house would be perfectly clean at all times), AND impermanent (this drama will not last long, and neither will the mouse).



Please visit all the Round Robin participants:

Coy...Dancing in the Rain:  Posted!

Karen...Musings from Mâvarin:  Posted!

Sara...Photographic Memories:  Posted!

Kimberleigh...I shaved my legs for this?: 

Reneé...Timeless Calligraphy Studio:  Posted!

Carly...Ellipsis:  Posted!

Kat...From Every Angle:  Posted!

Nancy...Nancy Luvs Pix:  Posted!

Betty...My Day My Interests:  Posted!

Deb...Sassy's EYE: 

_rRose...WAIT-NOT YET/:  Posted!

Steven...(sometimes) photoblog:  Posted!

Alan...F-Stop:  Posted!

Tess...First Digital Photos:  Posted!

Phinney...Paragon:  Posted!

Marie...Photographs & Memories:  New! Posted!

Becky...Where Life Takes You:  New!  Posted!

 the floor is a mysterious and dangerous place.   What mousie treasure might be next to the fridge?

Monday, November 7, 2005

A J-Land Survey Thingy

the house in Manlius.1) What is your name? (what you go by on here or who you are known as)
Karen Funk Blocher, or just Karen. 

2) Where are you from?
Originally DeWitt, NY, but grew up in Manlius, NY.  I've been in Tucson, AZ since 1986.

3) When did you make your (first) journal, here in J-land?
Tuesday, March 23, 2004. I posted five entries that first day!  The Blogger one followed in June 12th, 2004 (one entry that day, three the next), and the LiveJournal began June 19th, 2004 (three entries that day). 

4) What was/is the name of your journal? (Meaning your first journal ever on here)
Musings from Mâvarin.

Sun-River-Land5) What meaning does the title of it have?
The Musings part was supposed to mean that the entries would be 1) whatever I happened to be thinking about and 2) whatever I was inspired to write. (These are two different things.)  Too bad the term Musings was already a cliché in blogdom by then.  The "from Mâvarin" part was to indicate that a lot of the writing would be related to my Mâvarin books or characters.  In fact, the characters would be the ones doing a lot of the musing, in first person fiction entries.  And what is Mâvarin?  It's "the country in my mind," as my license plate holder says, the fictional country where Rani and Carli and Cathma all live.  The name means "Sun-River-Land."

6) What types of things do you share in your journal?

Let's see.  I've shared short fiction, serial fiction, poetry, a poll or two, holiday trivia, memes, essays and rants on political and religious and ethical subjects, pure diary stuff, photos, nonsense, entries about Tucson weather, plants and animals, travel, music, science fiction, fantasy, history, midcentury modern furniture and decor, old toys and dolls, my dogs, work, school, movies, books, writing, the creative process, and time travel, and even an HTML tutorial or two.  I'm sure I've forgotten a few things, but you get the idea.

7) What do you appreciate most about your readers?
I love reading a comment that someone liked an entry, especially the fiction.  That means a lot to me, helps to keep me going.  I also appreciate constructive criticism, as long as it's not too crushing, and hearing what elements of a story work for people.  I love knowing that I'm not just talking to myself.  Most of all, I love that a number of readers have become my friends.  Virtual party at Karen's computer! 

8) When you are journal browsing, what is it that gets your attention about another's journal?
Positive things that get my attention: good photos, humor, engaging writing.  Negative things that get my attention: poor spelling, punctuation or grammar, or saying nasty things about other people, especially other journalers.  Even if it's in jest, put-downs, teasing, gripes, accusations or name-calling (except for political satire, in small doses) make me want to click away from a journal, and never come back. I'm a little more tolerant of the mistakes in English, but not much.  If mistakes jump out at me in every sentence, or if the person uses all lower case, I won't bother to read any further.

9) What journal gives you the best laugh?
Carly, Tilly, and Mrs. L are all very funny, and Chuck and Paul are amusing. There are others, but I'm less familiar with them.

10) What journal inspires you the most, gets you THINKING about things?
Maryanne's journal does that, as does Michael's, as does Carly's, as does Becky's. I can't pick just one.

11) What journal is most eye appealing to you? (colors, graphics, pics, and set up)
Honestly, I don't notice the set-up that much, especially because I usually go to the new entry rather than the whole journal.  I generally prefer a photo rather than art in a sidebar (but either is better than nothing),and a light color in the body of the journal. 

12) What J-landers have you connected to as friends as well as readers?
Carly and Becky are the main ones for me, but also Chuck, Paul, Sam, Michael and others.
Any J-Land shout outs you'd like to share?
Cheers to everyone who nominated and voted in the VIVI awards - even if you didn't vote for me personally.  (But I'm very glad that some of you did!)

13) What kinda things would you like to see in the J-land community as far as writing styles, subjects, and or topics?
More of the same, really, but with more literacy where that quality is lacking, and fewer personal attacks on people who happen to disagree about religion or politics.

14) What would you like AOL to do to improve its journals?
Spell check would help a lot, not just for people who don't spell well, but also for the typo-prone (like me!).  There should be more customizing options for the template, more room in the About Me and journal description areas, and the font size glitch (12 point appearing as 10 point) really should have been fixed by now.

15) Top 5 journals you visit (links included so we can visit them as well if public):     
Alphawoman's Blog
By the Way
Jersey Girl
Where Life Takes You
(but there are at least three others I would have crammed onto this list if I could have!)

16) What do you like about keeping a journal?
I love talking to readers, sharing my stories and my rants, good days and bad, whatever is on my mind.  I used to do that in fanzines, but this is more immediate, more wide-open in what I can write about, and the feedback is practically instantaneous sometimes. I like that it keeps me writing, and that the schedule I've imposed on myself has forced me to write a bunch of new fiction.  Oh, and I've really enjoyed messing around with digital cameras.  I don't like that it eats up all my free time, and I don't get anything else done!

Person you got this Survey from their journal name & link if available.
I found the survey in (sometimes)photoblog.

Links to your journals:

Not much point in linking from Musings to Musings, and that's my only AOL-J.  But here are the non-AOL ones:

  • Messages from Mâvarin (fiction entries)
  • Mâvarin & Other Inspirations (LJ)
  • St. Michael's blog
  • St. Michael's Arts blog

  • I like this survey. If you take it, leave your link here: Journey through J-Land -Survey.


    That Was Then; This Is Now - or- Up on the Roof!

    Your Monday Photo Shoot: Do "Before and After" photos on any subject you like. The idea is to show change over a bit of time. Some easy ideas would be haircuts, cleaned-up rooms, kittens growing up into cats, and etc. And yes, this means you can dip into your collection of old photos (they certainly qualify as "before"). 


    This was our roof as of 7/19/05.  Doesn't look bad, does it?  But the monsoon storms, like the one threatening here, proved otherwise.  We had leaks!  John patched 'em, but the appraiser, a roofer, and the bank said we had to replace the roof.

    Noonish, the first day

    Lunchtime, 10/31/05.  All the old shingles were gone (actually, a lot of them were still on the ground at that point), and the tar was hot and ready to go.

    Late afternoon, 10/31/05.  I think.

    Late afternoon, 10/31/05.  The job was half done, seemingly.

    11/1/05, noonish

    Lunchtime, 11/1/05.  They left the roof a mess! 

    11/1/05, still noonish.

    Still lunchtime, 11/1/05.   It looked exactly the same late that afternoon.
    The roofers finished the job Wednesday morning, 11/2/05.

    11/7/05, late afternoon.

    Late afternoon, 11/7/05.  Except for the weather, it doesn't look much different from when we started!


    But here's one difference.  The old, disused roof antenna is now sitting in the back yard.  Also, the phone line in to my office doesn't work now, but I don't know whether that was caused by the roofers, the mice, or the fact that it's a thirty-five year-old phone line!


    P.S.  In other news, Black Rose Kate is gone. More later.