A Normal (?) Day

What follows is relatively typical for one of my work days. Not everything happening within the same 6 hour stretch, but not all that unusual, either. Yes, St. Angus in the Grass School is a little different.

It started with sunrise. Bright stars and a brilliant moon shone down as I took my morning walk, but by 0700 clouds had appeared, especially in the east. The entire eastern sky had a crimson to pink wash over it by 0715, and as I left town and got onto the county road leading to the school, I could see the storm towers to the west also turning cream and red, with blue-grey beneath, and mist over the playas and low places. As I turned into the drive leading to the school proper, I mused about red skies, which led to thoughts of birds, and how I had not seen as many hawks in the fall as in the spring. Continue reading

The Wild Hunt

That time of year is drawing closer, the time of short days, weak sun, long nights, and strange things riding under the stars. And for old legends that re-surface in interesting places, from fantasy novels to country songs and folk-tale collections. One story in particular returns over and over with twists and new developments: the Wold Hunt. Continue reading

Forcing the Spring is Live

The next Colplatschki novel, Forcing the Spring is live. 6182_forcing-the-spring_1800x2700

Pjtor Adamson Svendborg, co-emperor of NovRodi, fights for his inheritance and his dreams.

Young, bitter, determined. He turns to wind, water, and foreigners for assistance when Godown mores a bit too slowly for Pjtor’s taste. His greatest enemy may be himself. But Pjtor will overcome, even if he has to turn all NovRodi upside-down to do it.


NOTE: This book, and the two that follow, stand alone. No knowledge of earlier books is needed.

Too Many Tentacles

At what point to you stare at your food and start trying to find ways to be polite, graceful, and complimentary while plotting how to dispose of the dish in some way besides eating it?

I pride myself on being able and willing to at least try everything set before me. I might not eat much of it, and I may never, ever order the dish for myself, but I’ll try it. So, when Dad Red returned from a grocery run with the usual econ packs of chicken and pork I happily loaded the freezer. The four pound sack of mixed seafood gave me pause, not the least because there was no more room in the freezer period end. None. Zip. I’d already stashed a pork loin in the veggie crisper. But after some creative stacking and excavating I managed to wedge The Sack into the freezer, where it lurked for a few weeks. And then Dad decided to use about half the contents. Continue reading

Changing of the Seasons

The seasons are shifting faster and faster. It began with the slow, constant shortening of the days, the sun easing its way toward the south. By late August the first sliver of morning light had begun to brush the floor in south-facing rooms. The cool-season grasses had faded.

Late August and the playa is dry.

Late August and the playa is dry.

Then a line of blue-grey appears on the northwestern sky, and a galloping cold front chases thunderstorms, fog, and cool air down across the plains, dragging a grey blanket behind. The Grey Norther has come, and rain comes with it. Four inches in the next two weeks, and the highs remain below 90 F. Orion graces the morning shies, and the first acorns begin falling from the mature oak trees. Black and orange butterflies appear, early scouts for the Monarch migration, chased south by the cool and damp.

Since the rain . . .

Since the rain . . . Or until the pending rain. .15 inches eight hours later, with much light and noise.

Things are looking up. The morning air carries the sharp, stinging scent of crushed plants and a hint of cinnamon-rich from the grasses. Dew blesses the world more and more often, and almost every week the temperatures dip a little lower. The roses surge into their third wind and the yard smells like honey and flowers and all the best in life and growing.

Ebb tide flourishing

Ebb tide flourishing

Native grasses beginning to cure.

Native grasses beginning to cure.

Grama looking very good. The sideways flags are the seed-heads.

Grama looking very good. The sideways flags are the seed-heads.

More birds are passing through, the fall flowers are beginning to make their appearances, and you get the sense that the world is putting out a burst of energy before winter sends everything to sleep.

Native sunflowers, 3'-4' high.

Native sunflowers, 3′-4′ high.

Bowing to the south wind.

Bowing to the south wind.

Sunflowers all looking north, waving farewell to the south-drifting sun.

Sunflowers all looking north, waving farewell to the south-drifting sun.

The best time of the year is approaching. First the cool and grey, bringing moisture and the hope of a good season in the ground. Then crisp, cold, hard blue days, nights of Orion and wood smoke and the scents of the fair, of yellow and crimson leaves, and the sweetness of apples and honey, of clove and cinnamon, ginger and autumn.

A Shiver of Art

No, it’s not just because the air conditioner happened to be running.

Last week, my brain went on strike. A grading marathon followed by blogging and writing just under 2000 words on the WIP while trying to juggle plumbers and a call from the office left my mind unwilling to engage in anything requiring serious input. And my eyes needed a break from the screen or page. So I put in a Teaching Company (aka Great Courses) course I’ve been working through, this one including three lessons on Albrecht Dürer. And I was reminded once again why I love northern Renaissance art so very much, and why I can study his paintings and engravings and woodcuts for, if not hours, for extended periods of time. I also got to see his workshop and house-museum in Nuremberg a few years ago and pretty much had the place almost to myself, which is/was a nice bonus. Continue reading

Things in the Long Grass

“There are no mountain lions in the eastern half of Flat State. Any that are found in the western half are migrants from Somewhat Lumpy State.” The park ranger pontificated very well, and left the rest of the group nodding, calmed by the steady assurance of an expert. So I waited until they all left to wander over and inquire/state, “I take it this means the warning last month was really for a large, tan dog that could climb trees?”

He gave me a tired grin, the sort usually given to partners-in-crime. “We’re not supposed to say anything because of the media and the people who will call in squirrels as mountain lions. You see tracks?”

“Not this time, but I was on the main, lake-side trails.” You see, I take mountain lions* and other critters seriously. I’ve been stalked by something in the long grass. Continue reading

Writing for Adults

Over at Mad Genius Club today there is a discussion of “What are the Hard Limits for Writing?” James Young makes a very good point about what are no-goes for writers today, above and beyond personal brick-wall-hard limits. He’s discussing adult fiction, although there are some overlaps with other age groups. One absolutely hard and fast rule: You cannot kill the dog (or cat, or hamster, or pet pony. Warhorses are a little different.*) Pets are off-limits, although I’ve read horror stories where this rule is broken – and then the pet comes back in some form to get even. Interestingly, this rule also applies to movies. In one of the scenes in the original Robocop, a thug murders one of the young (slimy) business executives. But first he takes the guy’s pet cat with him, and the shot clearly shows the cat departing with said thug. The director was taking no chances.

My limits are a little different from J. Y.’s although we overlap a great deal. In terms of genres, noir and horror just don’t work for me at all. I’ve tried them, and one chapter in the third Cat book is as close as I’ve managed to come to horror and still have the story work. The lurking unknown evil just doesn’t suit me, or vice versa.

Continue reading