Saturday Snippet: Storm on the North Sea (Familiar)

Sooooo… there I was, trotting—OK, slogging away—on the treadmill at the gym, when not one but two stories in the Familiar universe jumped me. One has a Familiar, the other a sorcerer (I think)  but ties into Lelia’s ongoing training. This is from one of them. I sense two collections of short stories, otherwise it’s going to be one set of over 100K words. Oh, yes, the Lammkontor is a real place, and the food tastes amazingly good.

“Hast du deine Jacke?” Heike stood in the doorway, one hand on the heavy wooden doorframe.

Her Familiar’s voice came from the shadows inside, “Ja, aber die Knopfen…” Walburga’s frustration became apparent when she hopped closer. Heike could see the out-of-order button problem, and shook her head a little. Wallaby paws and fasteners…

She turned and crouched as Walburga reached the doorway. Heike fastened the jacket buttons, adjusted the hood so it fit better around the wallaby’s dark glasses and ears, and stood. Walburga cleared the doorway in two bounds, then stopped to nibble the salt-grass in the yard as Heike closed the heavy wooden door. The postman happened to be driving by, and his van slowed as he stared at Walburga, then sped up again when he saw Heike watching him. She smiled a little to herself. By the time he finished his route, all of Husum and most of Schleswig-Holstein would know that they’d rented the summer cottage. Continue reading

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Friday Familiar: Prof vs. Pollen

Alas, Martin Grayson and pine trees don’t get along. So of course he teaches forestry. In Idaho.

“Ahhh-CHOOO!” Prof. Grayson startled half the class awake. Sniff. “Sorry.” The barn owl occupying the branch perch at the end of Martin’s desk used one light-brown wing to push the university-issue box of lowest-bidder tissues in Martin’s direction, then dozed off again. Martin wiped his nose. The narrator in the video wasn’t the most gripping and charismatic speaker, and the various sub-types of pinus cultivated in North America was not as exciting as the fire videos. More profitable, yes, but at a certain point all needles blurred together, pun intended. Continue reading

Monday Familiar: Catfish CME

Even thaumatovets need refresher training… part of Dr. William Lewis and Blackwell’s adventures (and lack thereof) in Denver. Blackwell is a catfish.

The next morning, Blackwell opined, “I think we’d do well to start with the ‘Basics in Review’ presentation, then I’d like to catch ‘Thaumatoveterinary at Forty’.”

Lewis glanced at the schedule. “Sounds good. It’s been a while since we went to rock-bottom basics. And things do change.”

“Agreed.” They joined the line of the elevators. Continue reading

How Do You Define a “Western”

I was at a “pops” concert this past weekend that was all music about the American West, either tone poems, cowboy poetry set to music, or themes from TV and films. Which was a wonderful break from everything else going on in my world, and got me thinking about what exactly is a western?

This ties in a little with the fuss about a new slogan for the University of Wyoming, and the university deciding to stand their ground and not bow to political correctness. There’s a stereotype of a “western,” that seems to include 1. only Anglo-Saxons, 2. horses, 3. cattle and cowboys, 4. women are saints or sinners (the harlot with a heart of gold…), 5. abuse of non-White people, 6. Indians shown as Red Savages and 7. farmers are the victims (if there are any farmers around). So Zorro, the Cisco Kid, and a lot of other movies and TV shows are not Westerns. Continue reading

Saturday Shikari:

In which our intrepid explorers break the hardware, and find something else odd.

Whrrrrrr BING!

“Oh, damn and blast it,” arose from the test pit simultaneous with “Dust and dander!” and Thorna’s resigned, “What did you break this time, Sirs?”

“I did not break it,” Micah protested, waving his hat in the air, then slapping it against his leg. “It broke itself.”

Rigi had been engaged in trying to catch an especially beautiful bird with a very long tail and white-spotted crest plumes. Martinus, attempting to be helpful, had startled it, then pestered it. He was not supposed to do that, Rigi noted. She’d have to check his programming again. He was due for a deep-maintenance and program check.

Makana emitted a deep, soulful sigh. “Mistress Rigi, do all unmated human males behave so?”

Given that Dr. De Groet was the only old bachelor of her knowledge, Rigi said, “I do not have a large population to draw from, but I am inclined to say yes. Based on limited observation.” Continue reading

Friday Fragment: Breakbone Desert

This ambushed me on Wednesday. It will be a short story about Dr. De Groet and Thorna, and just what their relationship is. It’s… not what most would assume.

Thorna gave him a sideways look, her ears tipping to the left, away from him. The breeze swirled, confusing her scent into the dry, hard, bitter sting of the desert ahead of them. Micah agreed with her. He felt a distinctive lack of enthusiasm for venturing into the Breakbone Desert. The buffer drugs should work, for both of them. If they didn’t well, he’d decided that the university and his other sponsors could go take a flying leap into the Western Sea. Some things a man did not need to suffer through more than once.

“So, based on our last stalk, how many trap lizards between us and the rocks?” He inclined his head toward the odd, black lump on the northwest horizon. He was learning not to point. Thorna had almost cured him of that. Continue reading