Blog Post: Baby (Kitty) Pictures

T found some baby pictures of the boy cats and I am on a rampage of nostalgia, remembering them when they were wee little kittens.

We went to visit them — and their equally fluffy mother cat — and brought them home the same night. They were little grey puffballs then, small enough to fit on T’s lap together with room left over.

I remember thinking — saying, even — that I couldn’t wait for them to grow into their personalities, because at that point, they were… mostly babies, adorable but not really doing a whole lot except being hyper  and adorable.

Drake & Gatsby had been such personality-filled old men that having these little infant kitties around again was, well, weird.

But they pretty quickly developed or showed us personalities, probably even before we named them (They were Thing One and Thing Two for a while, or Lefty and Righty for the arm that has a full white sleeve (As you look at them, if I recall correctly.).) Continue reading

Hello, in Calenyen

So I’ve been playing with this #WIPWorldBuilders worldbuilding challenge on Twitter, and thinking about doing my own for Mastodon/The Fediverse, so when @DMoonfire greeted me this morning, I asked him how one greeted someone in (one of) his conlang(s).

Then I realized I had no way to say hello in Calenyen!

So I fixed that.

Hello

kettaar /kɛt.tɑɹ/ (from ket hey, and taar, you), Hello.

kettaarte /kɛt.tɑɹ.tɛ/ Hello (to you two)

kettaarbe /kɛt.tɑɹ.bɛ/ Hello (to a group/herd)

kettaarne /kɛt.tɑɹ.njɛ/ Hello (to an unknown group, as in greeting an audience)

The Bellamy, Chapter Two

A new series!

Veronika, two hours later, was pleased that learning fast was one of her chief traits.  She repeated back a bit of esoterica Uma had been working on hammering into her head and was rewarded by an actual smile from the woman. 

“Good.  I do believe that by lunch time you’ll have it all.  You’re quite good at this. That name…?”

“No relation, as far as I know.  But my family has been in library and museum work for several generations.”

“Ah, libraries, museums.”  Uma’s gesture was so dismissive Veronika really had to work not to take offense.  “They’re similar to the Bellamy, of course, but nothing is quite like the Bellamy.  We here are an Institution.  More than that, we are a fixture of the country and especially of this county.  What museum can say that?”

Several could, including several that Veronika’s family had worked in or still did, but she said, politely, “I stand corrected.”

Uma smiled, dropped the matter as if she had forgotten it, and moved on to the next lesson, which happened to involve intake of donations.  

The first portion of the lesson was nothing at all surprising, simply involving the Bellamy’s standard rule of anything brought into the Bellamy must be noted, whether it be a person or a donation or a creature.  When someone wished to donate books or statues or old suits of armor to the Bellamy, the woman manning the front desk would note everything available about both the donor and the donation before putting it – as much as possible – into the cart for the appropriate division. A good third of the lesson was simply on what department which sorts of donations would go to. 

But then Uma continued on, as if she was saying nothing at all unusual, “if the donation is still alive – or at least breathing or making noises and moving – then you must not only log it but make certain it is contained.  We cannot have donations simply wandering about the Bellamy. They leave all sorts of messes and get into all sorts of trouble. For those, you’ll go down this hatch here,” she tapped her foot in a specific spot in the floor and a hatch popped open, easily large enough to fit two abreast and revealing a wide, sturdy-looking staircase of cut stone.  “And bring the donation and the donor with you. The donor is responsible for the donation until it is placed in one of these cages. After that, contact the appropriate department and move from there.”

There was a very large dog in one of the cages, but the others – which ranged in size from rabbit-size to tiger-sized – were all empty.  “So the dog-?”

“I contacted Hunting and Trophies. He’s a Great Mastiff Winslow Hunter, a very rare breed indeed.  I believe they have two others, and hopefully one of those is a female.”

“The Bellamy collects… animals?”

“The Bellamy collects everything.”  This time, Uma looked quite disappointed in her. “We wouldn’t be much of an archive if we didn’t, now would we?  So, with living donations, the process is almost entirely the same as with non-living donations, but you may have to contact several departments until you reach one which accepts the donation.  If they take their time – this will also happen with non-living donations, but it is less urgent, of course – you will need to feed and water the donations. Here is the sink,” she gestured, and then filled a pitcher from that sink which she used to fill a suitably large bowl for the mastiff.  “And then here is the food cupboard. Get as close as you can.” 

As close as you can.  Veronika watched as Uma opened the cupboard.  There were large containers marked with things like Canine, bovine, caprine, feline, humanoid.

Humanoid.

Uma filled an equally large bowl with the canine food and slid it to the mastiff.  “Twice a day, and twice a day, afterwards, remind the department that they have a donation here.  You don’t want to let them forget about it, because they will, and then you will end up feeding someone’s horse for weeks.  At least the rest of it is cleaned up by the belt system.”

She pushed a button; a set of bells chimed and then the floor under the mastiff moved slowly backwards, the food dishes staying in their place but everything else being swept off.  The mastiff moved its feet in time with the belt until another bell chimed and the belt stopped. 

“Most creatures learn fast.  Some just let themselves be pushed against the back wall.  Those, those I call their department three or four times a day.  They can get a little smelly rather quickly.”

Veronika decided she was going to assume humanoid meant some sort of fairy or golemn and tried to forget about it for the time being.  “All right, twice a day any living collections are watered, fed, the belts run, and then we remind the department in question to come pick them up.  You have a log for that?”

“We have logs for everything.”  Uma’s smile looked tired, more like exhausted.  “I’ll show you.”

Back upstairs they went and Uma produced a log labelled Live Donation Holding.  She flipped to the page held by a green ribbon and marked the date, the time, and the animal. 

Veronika scanned the rest of the page – it went back two months with only three other living donations – a cat and a horse.  The cat had taken the longest for a department to pick up. 

“And now.”  She picked up the headset of an ancient phone and dialed 3 on the rotary dial.  A moment later, Veronika could make out a voice coming from the earpiece. 

Yes Uma – soon.  Very soon.”

“Today, Delphine,” Uma asserted.  “There’s a new archivist training and I don’t want her to have to deal with such things her first week.”

“-break her in.  Better if-“

“Today, Delphine,” Uma repeated herself.  “Today.  Do not leave poor Miss Bellamy to deal with this beast before she even knows where to find the loo.”

“I still think that she ought- -better when -that way.

“And I’m sure Miss Haas is very interested in your ideas, but I am training Miss Bellamy.  Today, Delphine.”

Uma hung up.  “I do apologize for that.  Delphine has been here since the Greek kalendae, and she does tend to be rather stuck in her ways.  She’d prefer we just set new archivists loose on the beginning of their first day and trail along later to sweep up what remains of the first ninety-nine of a hundred, as happened in her time.”

Veronika felt like there ought to be at least two places to giggle in that sentence, but Uma didn’t look amused, just – well, apologetic.

“There’s someone like that in every office,” she offered in bland understanding and a sort of conversational filler.  It seemed to work. 

“Hopefully, she’ll be here before you go on lunch and you can meet her, if only to know who to avoid as much as possible.”

“That sounds – well, it sounds wise,” Veronika allowed.  “What are we covering next?”

Want more?

Purchase Negotiation 31: Desires

First: Purchased: Negotiation

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“So, your first day of college.”  Sylviane pointed a mozzarella stick at Leander; it seemed that, although she had a gourmet chef at home (or maybe because she did; Leander didn’t quite understand rich kids), she knew every good pizza and bar-food joint in the city.  “What did you think?”

“That wasn’t a real day of college,” he protested.  “That was just one seminar thing and one meeting with a professor.  I mean, she was terrifying, but in a good way.”

“Terrifying, but in a good way? Explain.”

“She’s really tough, she knows her stuff, and she looks right through you and sees your meat.  Your core, I mean.” He looked at her and, feeling brave, pointed a fry at her. “You’re pushy when you’ve been at school.  Explain.”

“Oh!”  She looked at the fry and wrinkled her nose at him. “Pushy?” Continue reading

Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Two

This series continues

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

Lina did not jump.  Much. She turned to look at the woman who had spoken. 

She was wearing a much more formal-looking — no, that was the wrong word.  It was nicer looking, but also looked more like it had been cut to fit her — version of the robe that the shitty kid was wearing, hers with a crest over the chest.  She had golden hair pulled into a very practical-looking ponytail and, if she was wearing make-up, it was very understated. 

She looked a lot more working-class than most of the women here.  She also looked a little scary. 

“Ma’am?”  Lina didn’t move her hands.  She tried not to look threatening anyway. 

“We can be here!” the guy told her.  “My father is —” Continue reading

Thimbleful Thursday: Cherry on Top

Written to Thursday, Jan 9th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt, Cherry on Top. 

Facets of Dusk universe, no particular time. 

Content warnings here are only suggestions of violence and a little authorial  snark. 

🍒

The drink had a dark grey cherry on top of white whipped cream in a grey glass with a blackish grey drink inside. The straw was white and light-grey striped, and the lips wrapped around it were pale and glistening grey.

Cole turned to Xenia to find her, too, in shades of grey, her hand clearly on her weapon and her face set in anger.

“This place,” she murmured softly. “Have you heard them talk?”

“I just came in for a soda,” he murmured. “And it’s-” Continue reading

Spoils of War 29: What Am I?

First: Spoils of War I: Surrender

PLEASE NOTE: I WENT BACK TO THE END OF CHAPTER 21 AND AM REWRITING FROM THAT POINT. 

Nikol was somehow not nearly as surprised as she ought to be when Aran brushed a kiss over her cheek. “Thank you for having rules,” he added quietly. “Let’s shower, mmm?”

He scooped her up in his arms before she could say anything and, very carefully, carried her upstairs and into the bathroom.  “The power is still pretty spotty,” he warned, “but we got the whole thing going with the town water – that was mostly just moving around some solar panels, turns out Ford is good with those – and I can make the water warm okay on my own.”

He set her down carefully and she undressed.  Her borrowed clothes were sticky with sweat and they stank; she was tempted to wear them right into the shower.  Continue reading

A Blog Post: New Year, New Goals

I’ve been thinking about goals, as one does at this time of year.

Yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals – the whole shebang.

Some of this comes from finishing up last year’s Wordcount spreadsheet and moving on to this year’s, but “wordcount” is, while a lot of fun, not a very important goal.

(okay, that’s not entirely true, ’cause if you-all want to read, say, Spoils, Purchase, and two other things every week, then a serial once/month and four other stories, a recipe and a partridge in a pear tree on Patreon and I want to write a novel and submit some stories, there needs to be a certain base wordcount.  That, by the way, turns out to be approximately 2000 words, 5 days a week.)

We did this seminar at work on “SMART” goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Bounded (or something like that).

So when I’m setting goals – okay, I’ve tried for this for years but now I have a metric – I try to make them things that I can count and work towards.  Not “Sell 12 stories.”  That’s a) not my choice, b) not realistic and possibly not achievable, and c) not actually all that time-bounded.  But “Submit a story every other month.”

I’ve been trying to apply this to all aspects of my goal-setting, but when it comes, to, say, fun (someone suggested I have a section of goals for fun) I’m still sort of struggling.  The best I’ve come up with is “pick a day, and on that day every week, try to communicate with at least a couple of your distant friends.”  And also “do a trip that involves a museum.”

Those are not really uh, specific, but fun sort of gets wedged in the sides of things, doesn’t it?

I mean, other than uh.

When I spend three hours minecrafting and netflixing, which is… um.  It’s own problem?

Have I shown you my Minecraft railroad system?  It’s pretty amazing…

I know not everyone does or likes resolutions, but what about goals? How do you go about setting goals?

And, of course, also, how do you go about moving towards those goals?  Do you check in with yourself monthly? Daily? Never?  Do you bribe yourself? Punish yourself?

…Spend an hour playing Minecraft and THEN do your goals?

Burn all your goals down after a month and start again in March?

If I had a resolution in 2020, it would be Get Stuff Done.   I’m hoping that setting goals will help me get there.

How do YOU get stuff done?

The Bellamy, Chapter One

A new series!

“Come on in, come on in.  I wasn’t expecting anyone today, was I?”

The woman smiling at Veronika from the other side of the door – which she had not moved out of sufficiently to allow Veronika to, as suggested, come in – looked far too tidy for her confused expression.  Her salt-and-pepper hair was confined in an amazingly tidy bun; her vest and skirt fit her perfectly; her glasses were held on a decorative beaded string that coordinated with her outfit, and her make-up was on point. 

“I’m not certain,” Veronika admitted.  She, herself, was attempting not to feel untidy – she’d put a lot of work into her outfit and thought she was very nicely coordinated, but this woman….!  “Eve Dirckx contacted me through the temp agency. She told me to come here, to this side door–” she gestured at the door in question and the little parking lot outside of it “–at 8 a.m. today.  Well, the twenty fifth of November at 8 a.m…?” Veronika was beginning to wonder if she’d gotten something awfully wrong. “This is the Bellamy Manor Archival Library and Museum, yes?”

“The twenty-fifth of November – Wednesday?”  The woman peered at her over her glasses.

“Monday?” Veronika offered. Continue reading

Purchase Negotiation 30: Tests

First: Purchased: Negotiation

💰

Sylviane patted Leander’s shoulder and smiled brightly at him.  He hoped he didn’t look as nervous as she was acting like he did.  “We’re going. I’m driving, if that’s fine with you.”

Leander felt as if his head was full in a way it hadn’t been – possibly ever.  He had taken notes in the seminar because Sylviane was – and because she’d given him a notebook and a pen and it seemed to be what you were supposed to do – but most of his notes had been looking at her notes and writing down something similar.

He had, he realized, no idea how to handle this whole school thing – and this had just been a seminar.

He’d listened to the woman at the front of the room talk – it was a discussion on how data could be used or abused in manners to make your business better for you, to make it better for your customers, or possibly both – and had written down a bunch of questions as he got confused, but when the time came for questions, he’d left that to people who were supposed to be here.

(Sylviane had, in three cases, written down an answer to his questions right under them, so he was glad he hadn’t asked any of them out loud). Continue reading