Walls and Freedom

“Don’t fence me in.”

Freedom today means freedom of movement, at least for a lot of people. Walls are a rejection of that. They constrain people, keeping some out who want (or should be?) in, and lock in those who really want to be out and about. The Berlin Wall was an outward and visible sign of the failings of the East German Communist system. Activists decry talk of a border wall between the US and Mexico, and hurl epithets at the new walls and fences between Hungary and other places.

Five hundred years ago, without a wall, you were not free. You had no independence. Walls meant freedom. Continue reading


Mage Unsupervised

Tay. At home alone. With a smart phone. What could possibly go…

Tay blinked at her the next morning. “How do you feel?” she asked quietly. Doc Borchart had warned that he’d probably have a headache. When she had a headache, loud noises made her even grumpier.

“Like hell, but not as warm.” He blinked again and didn’t protest when she picked him up and carried him outside so he could “read the newspaper.” Since he hadn’t gotten sick during the night, Lelia sat in the kitchen and cuddled him while feeding him slices of banana and orange. He didn’t fuss about that, either. Instead he finished eating and just lay against her, false-purring, eyes half-closed.

“I’m sorry,” Lelia gulped around a lump in her throat, tears leaking. “I shouldn’t have challenged them, especially not after the woman tossed the first charm.”

“Hey, you’re a shadow mage, that’s what you do. You run to trouble. Always have, haven’t you?” Tay snuggled closer and she stroked his head, then scratched through the thick fur on his back. He hated tummy rubs—she’d learned that the hard way. The scratches on her arm had taken over two weeks to heal. Continue reading

Book Review: Seventh Son and Red Prophet

Card, Orson Scott. Seventh Son and Red Prophet: Tales of Alvin Maker Books 1 and 2. (Tor, 1987, 1988) Paperback.

Seventh Son and Red Prophet are the first two books in a five book (possibly six book) series of alternate history novels set in the early 1800s, centering on the seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin. He is a maker, someone with the ability to shape things. He also becomes a healer of sorts. These novels tell about his world, his first eleven years of life, and the tensions between whites and Indians in Card’s alternate world.
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Ever wonder where the word comes from? In English it generally refers to harsh language and behavior, occasionally to the “sal vitriol” once used in chemistry and medicine. I got to see where the original vitriol came from, and inadvertently learned more about medieval hazmat than I’d planned. You see, vitriol is a substance that was used for dyes. It is iron, zinc, or copper sulfate hydrate. And it looks really cool when it is behind glass, or turning mine galleries and shafts different colors. Just don’t touch it. It can be poisonous, and makes sulfuric acid before you precipitate it. Continue reading

Once More Onto the Road

So, I’m on my way to Chattanooga via a few other intermediate stops. I will be at LibertyCon along with a bunch of the other Unusual Suspects. I’m not presenting or on a panel *taps wood*, just hanging out and learning stuff. And trying to convince Sarah Hoyt that I’m not really an American Exotic Shorthair cat. She’s seen me in purrson before but is still not convinced. *flicks tail*

I don’t think this will be on the menu during the trip, alas (it wasn’t my dinner. I had eggplant.)

The Poseidon Plate at a Greek place in Bacharach. There really are jumbo shrimp.

Once upon a time, there was a gate in a wall… (Goslar, Germany)

Sunday Snippit – Vaguely Familiar

The obsidian necklace is acting up again. Morgana Lorraine and Smiley have not yet returned from their meeting, and Lelia’s still neck-deep in the joys of retail.

“Morgana and Smiley can’t get her fast enough,” Tay muttered the next day. “Can’t you move it to the back of the store or something.” He nodded toward the bag with the stone in it, then drank more Familiar-recovery mix. They were resting after casting a shield around the piece.

“Not until Arthur gets back. I don’t want to leave the place unattended, since Count Darkness is going to come by and get his books and incense.” She drank more water, then nibbled on a piece of chocolate. “That wasn’t a good sign, that the piece fought back, was it?” She didn’t think it was, but had she really felt intentional resistance or was it just her imagination?

“Short version, braaargh,” Tay covered his mouth with one paw. “‘Scuze me. Yes, I know better than to chug the lemon flavored kind,” he said, forestalling her quoting Doc Borchart, the thaumatovet. He shook a little before continuing. “The short version is no, it was not a good sign.” Continue reading