Wednesday with the Officers’ Wives

The secret forces of order and decorum are meeting…  (I’m 2/3 finished with the draft of Shikhari Six)

“… and I have no idea what is current at Court. Do you, Auriga?” Mrs. Singh asked as she passed the tea.

For once Rigi had a social advantage, thanks to her mother-in-law, and she used it in full. “Yes, I do. Her Majesty ordered that shoulders are to be covered before six in the evening, as is décolletage. For all women, and men are not to wear shirts open to,” she held one hand halfway between her bust and waist, “without suitable under layers.” Rigi made a little moue, lips slightly pursed. “As you may surmise, someone insisted on pushing Her Majesty’s rules of decorum farther than was wise.” For her part, Rigi didn’t see any problem with covered shoulders and bust during the day, but apparently this was wreaking havoc among the fashionable on Home and the inner worlds. Continue reading

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Book Review: Lightning Bird

Watson, Lyall. Lightning Bird.

If you read archaeology reports and anthropology from, on, the late 1800s through the 1960s, one thing that strikes you is how strange some of the theories were. At least, to us they seem strange. One that cropped up again and again was that at some time in the distant past—perhaps before the Great Flood—a more sophisticated culture lived in North America or in places in Africa or in South America, and then disappeared or was wiped out by later primitive peoples. Or had a disaster and “degenerated” into far more primitive cultures. A different variation held that some cultures were incapable of progress. Later, archaeologists found things that were obviously made by people, and found large numbers of them, but could not suss out what they were for or what they did. Continue reading

Telc, Czech Republic

It started with a fire…

As so often happened in history, there was a fire. Telc was built in the 1200s as a royal road-fort, with an extensive moat, to protect a major road intersection. By 1359 it had town right, and the municipal records began, or at least the preserved copies go back to that date. In 1386 a fire began in a brewery’s malting house and burned down two churches and 27 houses. Welcome to life in a medieval city. A new suburb, still called New Town, developed in 1543. But the most famous bit of the city, what everyone comes to see, dates to the 1530s.

Continue reading

Sunday Shikhari: Wombows at Work

In which Rigi contemplates the vagaries of domesticated monotremes….

Nahla was drying her forefeet under the blower when Rigi came in. She finished, then hand-bowed. “Yes, Mistress?”

How to phrase it? Rigi began, “Nahla, I will be working through dinner and do not want to be disturbed. I do not know how long the task will take me to finish, so please do not prepare anything for me.”

//Concern// tickled Rigi’s nose. Nahla stood still, forefeet hanging, ears tipped to the left a few centimeters, and blinked, making a side to side chewing motion as she considered the request. She blinked again. “Mistress Rigi, is something wrong?”

Rigi made the gesture that served as a negative among the Staré. “No, Nahla. I do not want to waste food if my task takes longer than it should.”

More chewing and blinking, then Nahla’s ears straightened up. “Very well, Mistress Rigi. But I will put keeping food in the food room,” and she puffed a very faint //warning//.

“Thank you.” Rigi hand bowed and departed. Apparently, if she fell over from hunger, she should expect a scolding. Continue reading

Luxury Good without a Trace

No, this isn’t a how-to for sneaking things in or out of the US without paying customs or other fees. It’s about something that led to a few major dust-ups in the archaeology and anthropology world.

A little background before I launch – Europe’s population has changed composition several times since “In the Beginning G-d created.” Migrants from the east, or north, or south, moved in and brought their cultures, technologies, livestock, and genetics with them. Cro-Magnon replaced Neanderthal, Neolithic farmers and herders gradually pushed the hunter-gatherers to the fringes of the continent and the uplands, then various groups of horsemen drifted in and out, culminating in the migration of the Proto-Indo-European speaking horsemen around 3000-2500 BC/BCE. Next were the waves of steppe horsemen that appear in recorded history, and the Slavs. Everyone agrees on that sequence, although exact dates are negotiable.

However… Continue reading

Distinctly Familiar now Available

Lelia and Tay stumble onto a haunted sewing machine. Or do they?

Something strange is scaring the seals, and making George wonder if his Familiar, Gus, has been in the beer-fridge again.

A shadow mage ventures out beyond the sea dikes and finds something older than she imagines.

And eight-hundred-fifty kilos of Familiar starts looking through the Polish want-ads, trying to find a job, as her mage sorts out a family problem.

Four stories of high adventure and humor, with a dash of danger and a few sprinkles of folk-lore just for fun.