Acts of Random Photography

Once again, my store of wit and erudition is a rather on the low side. So, without further ado, here are a few random pictures from my life over the last few days:


Pickled Beets and Quince Candy (aka Membrillo). Just when I thought I was done canning for this year, there were beets and quinces in the veg store. What was I supposed to do? They attacked me!


Logs by the roadside


Something that would like to become a log some decades in the future


I’ve taken to ingesting drugs. Yes, that’s coffee in that mug. The hard stuff. With caffeine and everything.


A Canada Post box looking decorative. They’re like that.

Seeing as a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s about 5k right there.

So that, for today, was Life, the Universe, and Random Acts of Photography. See you next time!

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September News From the Writing Trenches

Just thought I’d update you on what’s going on on the writing front.

For one, Steve & I are in the process of moving house – or rather, office: we’re still in the same house, just two floors down. My Man and I decided that since we both work from home, it’s a little silly to communicate via Googletalk in the course of the day and hardly actually speak to each other, so we’re trying office-sharing. Not sure yet how well it’ll work – I might feel an urgent need for a door to close once in a while (a la “A Room of One’s Own”), especially while cooking up plots and trying to get them down in writing. However, for the time being, it seems to be functional. Here’s Steve with my temporary setup. (Might I draw your attention to my elegant monitor stand? It’s got class. And yes, it would still work, if it were hooked up to a TV. Retro hasn’t got anything on me.)

IMG_20150925_103149And speaking of cooking up plots, you know how I’ve been promising you a third Septimus book for a while now? Yes, that’s still coming. It’s in the works as we speak. In case you hadn’t heard, the title is Checkmate, and it prominently features a chess game – a rather special one, at that. Not to give you any spoilers, but this ain’t your ordinary ‘move-little-people-around-a-checkerboard’ type thing. Oh, sure, that too, but just what happens when those little people are moved…

Now, the thing is that I don’t actually play chess – I barely know how the pieces move. So I turned to the aforesaid Man, and he helped design some chess moves for me that would work. Here’s his game design and the little chess board I used to recreate it, so I could get it all straight in my head to work it into the story:

chess6And now I’m in the process of picking on the little nitty-gritty details and finalizing things – you know, spelling, punctuation, that sort of thing. I’m not going to give you an actual date for when Checkmate is going to make its appearance, because I need more stress like I need a hole in the head. But I do hope to get this book out before Christmas, at least.

Until further notice, that was Life, the Universe, and News From the Writing Trenches. Look out for Checkmate soon!

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 3

Slide holder is changed. Here goes the rest. (Yes, lil’ Joey, Aunty A. is almost done; then you can go out and play. I brought you a chocolate from Germany; you can at least have the good manners to sit through my slide show, can’t you? Oh, fine, here, have some more gummibears.)

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We went on a train. That’s how fast it went. Yup. You think the Autobahn is fast? ICE trains leave those cars in the dust.

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This is the lovely little town of Wetzlar, in Hesse (central Germany). The town centre is almost unchanged from 240 years ago, when the young Goethe visited here – a visit which inspired him to write his runaway bestseller “The Sorrows of Young Werther”.

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You barely need any imagination to see Goethe walking through these streets. Do away with the cars, add a few powdered wigs and pannier dresses, and you’re in the late 18th century.

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Fachwerk – half-timbering. Isn’t this beautiful?

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And THIS is the Lottehaus, the very house where Goethe met Charlotte Buff, the original of the Lotte in the book with whom Werther falls in love. (DESPERATELY. Clutch hair, press wrist to forehead. I mean, emo isn’t even in it.) The Werther story is almost entirely autobiographical – however, those aspects end, obviously, before Werther blows his brains out (Goethe survived to a good old age). That part was modelled on the suicide of a guy named Jerusalem, which happened in the red-beamed house on the far right of the above picture.

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I was fascinated by the slate tiles on the roofs – so different from the red clay tiles which dominate in Southern Germany. Sometimes the whole side of the house is tiled in these, arranged in fancy patterns. Incidentally, this is the roof of the Lottehaus.

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Germans have their ducks in a row.

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Pretty flower being pretty.

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The Cathedral in Wetzlar. There’s a story here too, but I’ll tell you that some other time.

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This is how Germans celebrate birthdays. Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) is a meal in its own right, and you can see here why. Mind you, that’s not a daily or even weekly occurrence, just for special occasions. But then you pull out all the stops. Oh, and all those cakes are homemade.

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In a field on the edge of town: Flowers, 50 cents. In other words, you drop half a Euro into the little box on the post, and help yourself to a sunflower bouquet (a knife to cut it is provided as well). Gotta love it.

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Warnings in the commuter train on the way back to the airport: Don’t Eat Bananas. Don’t Listen to Music Off-Key. And above all, Do NOT Play the Accordion! I thought y’all needed to see that; who knows, it might prevent disaster.

Chick-chook, and there’s that last slide. Turn on the lights in the room, yawn and pretend you hadn’t dozed off half-way through. These were just the highlights, anyway – I spared you the other 790 pictures I could have inflicted on you as well; aren’t you grateful?

And that, folks, was Life, the Universe, and What I Did On My Holidays. Thanks for listening!


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Holiday Slide Show, Part 2

Okay, the second slide holder is in. Lights off, here we go (chick-chook):

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Palaces aren’t the only buildings that were dripping with gilding and marble in the Baroque. This is the Abbey Church of Fürstenfeld, outside of Munich, which was one of the strongholds of the Counter Reformation. They pulled out all the stops to convince the people that the Catholic church was worth sticking with. Speaking of pulling out all the stops, we got to hear an organ concert here – it was fantastic.

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Yes, that’s a dead guy. A 1900-year-old dead guy, to be precise – St. Hyacinth, who starved to death at the age of 12 around the year 100 AD because he refused to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. You can tell that his weight loss program was effective. But at least he got impressive duds out of the deal, even if it was a millennium or two after the fact.

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Munich has several world famous art museums. I took the time out to visit the Neue Pinakothek, which holds a selection of 19th-century art – well, from the late 18th century to the early 20th. I was thrilled to find that there were several pieces by Angelica Kauffmann – for example, this, her most famous self-portrait. She’s got to be awesome with a name like that, no?

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Moritz von Schwind, “The Fairy Tale of Cinderella”. Probably my most favourite piece in the whole collection… (sorry, Vincent van Gogh).

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Cinderella tries on the shoe.

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One of the labels in the frame.

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Fernand Khnopff, “I Close the Door Upon Myself”. There’s something about this chick’s eyes that I find kind of creepy, in a rather awesome way.

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Klimt, “Margaret Stoneborough-Wittgenstein”. My favourite of all the famous pieces there.

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A German supper: at least three different kinds of bread, cheeses, meats, tomatoes, stuffed peppers… I miss it. Can I go back?

Another slide holder change…

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 1

I’ve been trying to think of witty things to say about this trip which Steve and I just got back from. Erudite things, informative ones – but I can’t really come up with anything. So I think I’ll just show you a few pictures, and you can decide yourself what you think of it all.

Imagine yourself in my living room, the blinds drawn, a slide projector set up, and the painting of the West Coast taken off its hook so I can project my pictures against its spot on the white wall. (That, dear children, is why they call it a ‘slide show’ when you put pictures in consecutive order to show to people. It’s how folks back in the dark ages, ca. 1975, shared their holiday experiences with friends, family, and other unsuspecting victims. Depending on the liveliness of the presenter, one was rather apt to want to fall asleep – the darkened room didn’t help. However…)

So here goes, the first slide (chick-chook goes the slide projector):

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Air Canada Jazz planes looking decorative at the Calgary airport, where we switched from a little cloud hopper like this (I think ours had a yellow leaf on in) to one of the big jets.

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Munich, Marienplatz. The towers in the background are those of the Frauenkirche (Our Lady’s Church), the icon of Munich. This is the Fussgängerzone (pedestrian zone), which is roughly speaking a giant outdoor mall. I love Fussgängerzonen. Stroll around on the city streets, with no cars to get in your way – it’s the best shopping and hanging-out-in-the-city experience ever.

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Munich City Hall. What everyone is staring at is the Glockenspiel, the musical bells, where a bunch of little puppet guys pop out of the tower and do a dance. It’s sort of half-way up the tower.

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Weisswurst and a Brezel at the Viktualienmarkt (victuals market) in Munich. They’re an institution. Oh, and Weisswurstsenf – a special sweet mustard which is mandatory to eat with Weisswurst.

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View over the Marienplatz through the ancient window panes of the toy museum.

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Nymphenburg, the baroque summer palace of the kings of Bavaria.

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I did say baroque, didn’t I?

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A selfie the old-fashioned way. The green bed in the background is where Ludwig II of Bavaria was born (the royal nut bar who built Neuschwanstein, that Disneyland castle that Americans are all so terribly fond of).

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Nymphenburg was, and still is, the site of a world-famous porcelain manufactury. These are from the 18th century, by Bustelli (I think). They’re no more than 20cm (8″) high; the detail is astounding.

Excuse me while I change the slide holder. Anybody want another drink of Spezi (cola-orange pop mix) or Apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer) while I do that? No?

To be continued…

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Flying a Holding Pattern

Yes, we got back from Germany. Yes, I’m going to tell you all about it when I get my photos downloaded and organised. However, Real Life is happening again with a vengeance and demanding my attention, so I hope you’ll forgive me when I leave you hanging for just a bit longer.

Meanwhile, to tide you over, here’s a picture of an Air Canada plane taking off from the Calgary airport.

3566Life, the Universe, and Returning From Travels. I promise I’ll talk to you soon!

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I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane…

…for a couple weeks’ worth of visit to the Fatherland. Checking in with you from the airport, waiting for the first leg of the flight.


Here’s Steve, yesterday, waiting in the bag for me to stop fussing with such unnecessary things as which clothes to take, and get on with packing him up already.

Posting might be somewhat intermittent in the next bit, but we’ll try to keep you updated.

Life, the Universe, and Travels. See you later!


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