The Summer Complaint

No, not that the season is too short (kids and some teachers, and kids’ parents), or that it is too hot for comfort. No, I’m thinking of the traditional name for the suite of gastrointestinal woes that used to take a very high toll on infants and small children for much of human history.

The warmer weather played a role, but so did availability of food, and the problem of spoilage. Continue reading

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Teaser Tidbit: Fountains of Mercy

The first, and fifth, Colplatschki book will be out later this month, if all goes well. Here’s the opening.

Well, Peter Babenburg thought, studying the water system’s master plan for the thousandth time, we’ve finally got enough labor. I just wish to hell it hadn’t happened like this. Dear Lord, how I wish it hadn’t happened like this. The last of the refugees had streamed in that morning, carrying nothing but the clothes on their backs. They looked behind them with almost every step, as if afraid the very hounds of hell were on their tracks. No, just two-footed hellhounds, Peter sighed, rubbing tired eyes.

A meaty hand gripped his shoulder. “Easy there, Peter,” Arturo Montoya said. “Worry about the water and organizing supplies for the city. Let Ann, Martin, and I worry about defending the farms and everything else.”

Peter rubbed his eyes again, then ran his hand through thinning brown hair. “I am. Worried that is. We need a miracle.”

The former space marine colonel—turned colonist—grinned, white teeth shining against dark tanned skin. “We’ve had one already, Pete. Now it’s our turn to show our gratitude by doing the next bit ourselves, as best we can.”

He’s got a point, Pete told himself. Water and tunnels are your thing. Fighting is his. And Ann’s. And if you don’t get some sleep, you’ll nap through the next meeting and find yourself elected mayor or something equally horrible. “OK, I surrender. You keep the bad guys out, and I’ll keep the water in.”

“Deal. Because I’ve seen what happens when you try to shoot. No offense, but I’d be safer standing right in front of you than anywhere else.”

“Uh huh.” Pete straightened up and folded his arms. “And who was it that didn’t believe me when I said don’t drink from that spring, hmm? And how long did it take you to recover?”

The angry growl answered his question. Pete slapped Arturo on the shoulder and went to his napping room, just off the hall from the engineering offices. Only one out of every four lights shone, giving the long hall an air of depression and weariness, if a building could be weary.

After Pete finally got home late that evening, and he and his wife put Pete Junior to bed, he poked at his supper and grumbled, “There’s something I need to do. I just can’t tell what it is.”

Cynthia shook her head and smiled a little. “Pete, love, Arturo’s right. Two years without being attacked is a miracle and you know it. Let him and Ann do their thing and we’ll do ours.”

“Mrgf,” he said around a mouth of beans and mystery meat. The tang suggested it came from the native pig-like species. Shit, Bettina and her mob will scream if they learn we’re eating the native fauna. But eating the wildlife beats starvation. Who’d have thought we’d reach this point so fast? Besides the marines—they always plan for the worst, and they’re rarely disappointed.

“Does it need salt?”

“No dear, it tastes fine. What’s the meat?”

“Pseudo-boar. I know,” she raised her hands, fending off complaints. “Can’t eat the natives, respect for all species, yes, yes. It was tearing up the vegetable plots so Martin Krehbiel shot it. This isn’t five years ago.”

Peter swallowed another bite. “Nope, it isn’t and our food comes before the native non-sapient fauna. And it doesn’t taste at all like chicken.” Actually, it tastes better than our pigs do. Five years has turned me into a xenovore. What will the neighbors say? Not that he really cared at that moment, not with his mouth full of good, hot food, his children safe, and his wife sitting at his side. Five years, only five years, and everything has turned upside down and inside out, and the Company failed us all.

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August Already!?!

Well, there went the summer.

Yes, the time has come…

(Photo from The Daily Mail. Click image for story.)

‘What do you mean an updated teachers handbook, and new software, and new procedures AND no new copier/printer/stapler/holepunch/miracle working machine?!?” Continue reading

Silesian Jerusalem

Wambierzyce, Poland, lies in the low mountains south of Wroclaw, in Silesia. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Poland, although not one of the better known outside of Poland.  It’s now on the border (almost) of Poland and the Czech Republic. Officially the church is the Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin, but it popularly called the Silesian Jerusalem.

Did I mention the rather imposing facade? Photo by Jacek Halicki, Used under Fair Use Creative Commons 3.0.

The Madonna of Wambierzyce dates to the 1100s at least, and according to tradition, was first placed in a tree for veneration, then moved to a small church. Which grew. And grew. And is now an absolutely enormous basilica, except that the shrine is not a basilica in the architectural sense. Instead it is small and round, and is based on the Temple in Jerusalem, thus the informal name. If you are confused, no worries. So was I, in part because the great facade of the church was covered in scaffolding when we got there. So no photos of the front, which dominates the little town.

The miraculous Madonna is in there.

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The Bird Walk

Thursday night-Friday morning, Redquarters got over half an inch of rain in a rather loud and dramatic fashion. We’re in that season where, if the forces of weather cooperate, rain from the southwest monsoon continues southeast down the high plains and sweeps over the area. We’d had a really big storm pop up Thursday afternoon and drench one part of town, but Redquarters remained low and dry. Then along comes the 0200 light show.

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