Jul 20 2021

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth…


(… Although, that might actually be interesting, in an SFnal way.)

Nope, still here.  Long period of non-blogging is largely due to activities and issues in the Real World Out There, requiring way more attention than I hoped, not to mention actual physical actions. Such as dashing about, lifting, lugging, tossing, shifting. Oh, and painting.  Let’s not forget painting.

Add to that, matters not (technically) in the Real World Out There, but still requiring attention, consideration, decisions, and in some cases interaction with bureaucratic entities — Blogging fell to the bottom of my To Do list for a while.

Meanwhile: yes, I’m in my new apartment, which I dearly love.  Largely because, small as it is, it’s all mine.  It’s not quite fixed up entirely to my preference yet; almost there, but other requirements of Reality are taking precedence for a while.  Such as the aforementioned considerations, decisions and interactions.

Also: my sister is selling her condo in order to take to the highway as a modern nomad, as I’ve mentioned before.  And this means lots and lots of fix-up and painting.  Some of which is being done by hired hands, and some (plenty!) done by her and myself.  It’s the least I can do after she put up with me for so long!  We’re getting down to the wire, and much still needs to be done.  We’re on it.

Of course, I decided at the exact same time that my office needed certain refurbishings:

Why the pumpkin colors?

My blackboard with fluorescent markers under black light worked so well that I wanted more, and I increased its size by about 40%. Tricky to install (it’s contact paper), but worth the effort. Especially for structural planning, it’s good to see the whole pattern laid out in real space.

In other news: I’m fully vaccinated — and so are many of my pals!  Which means that socializing in RealSpace has come back. I recently saw a whole slew of people at one gathering (an engagement party, where we met the bride-to-be, a true gem!), and will see some more next week. It’s so lovely to be able to, you know — hug people!

Okay, out of time, gotta go… More later (which is always true, come to think of it).


Mar 8 2021

In my defense, February was a very short month


… A short month, also suddenly filled with new and immediately urgent things to do, as well.

To wit: I’m moving!

My sister’s plans to take to the road and live the nomad life meant that I had to find my own place to live. I wanted to stay in town, or nearby, because I have this office space, which I dearly love. But since I do have the office, and spend most of my time there, my actual living space needs are quite modest.

Luckily. Because, have you seen apartment rent rates lately? Yow.

I’ve been looking for a while, and an affordable studio finally became available. And now I have all that to do! A lot of throwing out of no-longer-needed items will take place, given that the place is so very small; also, many sessions of hauling things across town. Not to mention buying a bed! That must be done.

January was such a great month for writing, for me; but now I’m hanging on to it by my fingernails, so to speak, as I deal with Real World necessity. It should all quiet down once I’m in my place, snug and warm.

Another distraction (but a welcome one): I’ve been auditing an online class on Natural History illustration from the University of Newcastle, Australia. It was writer pal Laurie J. Marks idea, and we’ve been doing it together. She’s putting in many more hours of practice that I’ve been able to, some of her work has become just astonishing. I’m limping along with the time I have, but it’s been great fun, and illuminating.


Yeah, but they were doomed anyway.

I murdered four roses to do this

Also, it’s a good study for how Steerswomen see and think, right?

Other news: I got my first Covid vaccination. The experience has been pretty seamless — the town actually contacted me, out of the blue, once I became eligible. This in contrast to my many friends in big cities, who can’t seem to get an appointment for love or money, as the saying goes. But I’m scheduled for the second dose already.

One more thing: As ever, I’m late to the party on this one, but if you have not seen Derek DelGaudio’s “In and Of Itself,” currently streaming on Hulu, do it now. I can’t say too much about it, because finding out what it is and what it means is part of the artistic experience. I’ll just say that it’s a film of the live performance of a one-man show that was performed off-Broadway over 500 times, and it is a work of heartbreaking genius. I do not use those words lightly.

More later.

Oh, and I’m trying to catch up on my emails, so… some of you might hear from me.

Jan 31 2021

Can I possibly post this before January ends?


Answer: I can if the post is short enough, and I do it quickly enough.

I entirely missed writing a post in December, and that’s a state I do not want to continue.

I did miss posting quite a lot last year, due to accumulating Personal Life Crap, and escalating State of the World Crap. Gosh, 2020 was the worst.

Over now! And of the two major ongoing World Crap disasters, only one remains.

Hm. I seem to recall saying something like that in my last post… and it turned out to be not quite true…

Well. Let’s not jinx this, hey?

As for my Personal Life Crap — things are looking up.

More later, as the clock is about to hit tomorrow (I work at night), and tomorrow is no longer January.

Quick Pic: Here’s my new black board, replacing my old white board.  Yes, I’m now using neon markers that glow in blacklight.

Nov 8 2020

Oh, thank goodness that’s over


Well, not entirely over, of course. Not until Inauguration Day.

And there’s bound to be a certain amount of whining, posturing, and two-fisted Twittering on the part of the Toddler-in-Chief, in the meantime. But it’s all just noise, folks.

Somewhat more worrisome are the possible actions of some of the swamp-creatures dredged up at his instigation. By which I mean QAnon and the Proud Boys, and that sort. But without him egging them on for the sake of increasing his own brand-recognition and TV ratings — well, I do believe they’ll fade back into the background, in due time.

Meanwhile, here’s a nice little combination of retro nerdiness and sheer virtuosity. I’ve been whistling this all day.

I’m ‘a make it my new theme song, I think.

Nov 2 2020

Emerging from blog limbo to say a few things about the election.


With all the difficult, miserable, unpleasant and scary things going on simultaneously right now, I thought I’d step up and remind you that this is probably the most critical national election in which you personally will ever participate.

That is, I certainly hope it’s the most critical. I dearly hope that there isn’t worse crap headed our way that would cause some future vote to be even more dreadful than this one.

Right. Well.

That being the case, I thought I’d let you know what I thought of Donald Trump —

— wait a moment.

Do you actually need me to tell you what I think of Trump?

I mean: you’ve read my books, right?

I’m assuming that you’re here because you’ve read my books. Really, there’s no other particular attraction to bring you here. It’s just a blog by some woman who wrote some books you’ve read. And probably liked.

Those books about a woman whose life is dedicated to truth.

Those books about logic, reason, science, and passionate devotion to the act of discovery — the better to understand the world, the real world.

Those books about finding truth, and sharing truth.

Those books about learning to see through the illusions and falsehoods; about standing up against the lies that being used to manipulate you.

Those books where the bad guys create divisions, force everyone to one side or the other side, and literally send you to war against each other — all for the sake of maintaining their place in power.

Those books where facts matter, where reality matters, where people matter.

You don’t need me to tell you what I think of Trump.

Human beings have two things: our lives, and our minds.

Anyone promoting ignorance, generating ignorance, and feeding off of ignorance is acting against humankind.

If you haven’t already voted, please do it. Don’t sit this one out.


Oct 7 2020

Emerging from blogging limbo to tell you about N.K. Jemisin


N.K. Jemisin — the only person ever to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years straight has just been named a MacArthur Fellow. That’s the formal name of what we generally refer to as the “Genius” grant.


It’s just so nice to hear some good news in the midst of the shit-storm that is 2020. SpecFic writer!  Hugo winner! Genius grant recipient! Warms the cockles of my heart.

This is the first book of  the trilogy that won all those Hugos:

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) by [N. K. Jemisin]


And here’s the first book in her current trilogy:

The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy Book 1) by [N. K. Jemisin]

And oh, look: you can read a short story of hers for free on Tor.com. Which I really enjoyed — and which connects to The City We Became, I believe…

I’m so pleased by all this.


In other news: yeah, I haven’t been blogging lately, being brought down by a) the crapfest that is the year 2020 in general, which is itself enough to cause one to stare off into the distance bleary-eyed, asking WTF tell me again how we ended up here?; and b) personal crap that I still have to wade through (nothing dire, I assure you; merely emotional-energy-consuming).

Hope you’re all holding up.




Jul 13 2020

Sighting NEOWISE


Yesterday I managed a lovely sighting of everybody’s favorite new comet, NEOWISE, which has been gracing our morning sky for the last few days.

Well.  Gracing the sky of those with no cloud cover!  It’s been cloudy and rainy and even thunderstorming for a full week here in southern New England.  But yesterday, as I was coming home from the office, I saw that we had, miraculously, a perfect, clear sky. And since I tend to leave my office around 2:30, 3:00 AM, all I had to do was stay up for about another hour to reach the best pre-dawn sighting time.

Unlike most comets that amble through our skies, it can actually be seen with the naked eye.  And if you’re an old hand at star-watching, like me, it’s not hard to find.

However, if you’re not an old hand at star-watching and backyard astronomy — it can be next to impossible to spot! So, here are some tips.


Space, as Douglas Adams famously said, is Big. The comet is little.   It’s a teeny-tiny thing in the great big sky.

All those great photos you’ve seen on the internet, with the big comet and flashy tail filling the image? Yeah, they were made with big fat lenses on the camera.  Telephoto, and such. Or made with digital cameras with super-high resolution, creating an image that you can later expand the hell out of and crop down to something big and dramatic.

But up there in the sky — it’s little. Still absolutely worth seeing! It’s like a beautiful, eerie little ghost…



Binoculars are sadly underrated as aids to star-gazing.  But really, your average modern binoculars are about as good as the very first telescope that Galileo peered through. That pair you have in the back of your closet will do just fine. (Be sure you know how to focus them.)

Once you’ve spotted the comet with binoculars, you’ll find you can also see it without them — just, you know, smaller.

But you might not be able to see the tail very well with the naked eye, because its light is fighting horizon haze, light pollution, and the approaching sunrise.  Those things can (and probably will) drown out the dim tail entirely…   But with binoculars, you will see the tail.

All this, of course, assuming that you:


It’s currently in the morning sky, northeast, an hour or so before dawn. But as instructions go, that’s a little vague.

Try looking for Venus, currently crazily brilliant in  our morning sky, in the east.  It’ll be the brightest thing you can see.  Start there, and then scan along to the left, with a little bit of up and down as you go.  You should encounter the comet along the way.

Or, use a chart!  This article in Sky & Telescope online has some excellent charts.  Scroll down past the big dramatic photos to reach them.



The comet is a morning object in the northeast until the 15th,  and becomes an early evening object in the northwest from the 14th onward.  Yes, there’s an overlap when you can see it in the morning, and in the evening.  This is not as weird as you might think.  Because it’s scooting along in the north part of our sky.

Once it’s an evening object, you can use the Big Dipper to find it… but it will get dimmer.  Because, sadly, it is going away….

Meanwhile, it’s now past 4AM, which is prime viewing time — but now it’s gone all cloudy here!  Alas.

Well, time to pack it in, and go home… maybe there will be a crack in the clouds in the northeast?


Jul 8 2020

Well, hello there.


It’s been (oh, wow) about three months since I last posted here.  But fear not: I have not abandoned my blog.  I’ve just been… occupied.

I had some personal stuff that needed attention (nothing dire; don’t worry); and simultaneously some unavoidable other tasks (think:DMV in the age of pandemic);  and then minor things that became hard because of being simultaneous with everything else —

— All on top of THE STATE OF THE WORLD, especially the United States.  Which state itself consists of three huge things going on simultaneously.

So, with everything all together, I’ve been kind of exhausted and not much inclined to blog…

But it’s been too long!  So, here I am.

I still have things to say… and I will, in the coming weeks, also say some stuff about the Great Big Things going on in the world — largely because silence is open to misinterpretation.

But… not today!  Today all I can handle is just stepping out of the general chaos and exhaustion, looking around, and basically being okay with my plans.

Oh, and I really did not want to miss the opportunity to make you aware of Jo Walton’s new book:


Or What You Will by [Jo Walton]

I’m so excited about this.  I was at her reading at Scintillation last year, where she read the first chapter, and I just fell in love with it.

Now, the first chapter is all that I have read so far — it just arrived on my Kindle today — But rereading that chapter just confirmed my previous delight.

For a taste, here’s the very first paragraph:

She won’t let me tell all the stories. She says it’ll make them all sound the same. She’s had too much of my tricks and artfulness, she says. I have been inspiration, but now she is done with me. So I am trapped inside this cave of bone, this hollow of skull, this narrow and limited point of view that is all I am allowed, like a single shaft from a dark lantern. She has all the power. But sometimes she needs me. Sometimes I get out.

Jo Walton, Or What You Will, Tor Books, 2020

In other news: the New Decameron is continuing, in a slightly different form.  After 100 days of stories and excerpts to delight us during our pandemic isolation, they are moving forward by reposting the original 100 offerings.  So, if you missed them the first time around, you can still get to see them all.

In other other news: A friend bought himself a Tesla.  And sold me his previous car.  2009 Toyota Venza.

Apr 13 2020

Quick reminder about the Decameron Project


Popping in to remind you that the New Decameron is still going on, giving you a work of fiction or poetry every single day — and today’s offering is by my pal, and fellow member of the Fabulous Genrettes writer’s group, Laurie J Marks.

Laurie is the author of the famous Elemental Logics Series, which recently came to a conclusion.  For the Decameron Project, she’s giving us a peek at her current work-in-progress, The Cunning Men.

Remember: you can read the Project Decameron selections on Patreon for free; but you’re also perfectly free, if you so desire, to make a contribution.  Your choice.  The money is split between the authors and a charity called  Cittadini del Mondo, which runs a library and clinic for refugees in Rome.  All good causes!

In unrelated news:  Did my taxes.  Even though we’ve been gifted with extra time.  I just like to get it off my mind.

Apr 6 2020

The parks are busier, but nature has its own ideas…


Having such a sedentary profession, I try very hard to take a good walk at least five days a week.  The local linear trail is a good choice, especially if I’m short on time.  It’s right here, it’s a measurable and predictable distance, portable restrooms are nearby, and if you pick your time you can get the whole trail pretty much to yourself.  And with no difficult terrain, it’s perfect for audiobooks and podcasts (my current listen: The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.  So far… Hm.  I’m ambivalent, but I’ll give it a few more chapters before settling on an opinion).

And if I miss the quieter hours at the linear trail, there’s Sleeping Giant State Park also nearby, with more demanding terrain.  Less compatible with audiobooks, but better suited for basking in nature and thinking deep thoughts…

Assuming, that is, that one can be alone.

Alas.  It’s an ironic fact of these pandemic days that requiring people to work from home if they possibly can, the better to maintain social distance, has actually resulted in all my favorite places of solitude being filled with people.

Today: there’s no place to park at the linear trail at all, unless you wait out a family loading up their collapsible baby-buggy, and nab their spot as they leave.  Sleeping Giant shut down its main entrance, with a ranger waving cars away and a big sign reading “PARK IS AT CAPACITY.”  And all the other trailheads leading into the park (of which there are about 10, some barely known to the general public) — all had cars right there!Three, four, and in one case about 9, five of which were parked on the shoulder of the road.

Yes, everybody — good citizens all – -have heeded the warning and are staying away from the office.  They’ve also heeded the other warning and are staying away from the gym. And they’ve looked up how to best conduct their new at-home working life, and read about how very important it is to move around and not sit still all day.  Obvious solution: Let’s all go for a walk!  And we’ll take the now-home-schooled kids, and the dog, and load up the stroller so baby makes five.

Well.  It is, of course Sunday today, so it’s at its worst.  Weekdays are bearable, if you can hit the 2:30 sweet spot.

But today I was itching to walk!  Even before the pandemic, I just always wanted to walk as alone as possible. And now — Well, I gave up, and just went to the office, as usual.

Social distancing made easy.

But when I got there, I looked around and went: Hey, wait a minute…

The parks were crowded… but this whole complex of warehouses and converted factories was completely empty.

So I just locked the car and started walking.  Over the little creek bridge, up past the gun-range…

Creek ahead, gun range behind me.

Back past the climbing school, the HVAC installation company.  Around the movers, with their many big moving trucks now sitting idle; past the sky-high mounds of rotting skids and pallets way in the back, past the archery range and out through a driveway paralleling the Quinnipiac River.

Two kingfishers zipped past me along the creek.


And when I got to the street — usually pretty busy — barely a car in sight.  So I crossed, and stood on the bridge over the Quinnipiac for a bit. Here was the solitude I was looking for…

Well, except for the adjacent Dog Park, filled with dogs and people.  But still, pretty good!  A lot of water-sounds, bird-calls.

All along my walk, I had been noticing that particular scree, scree which is the sound of either a raptor, or some other bird who has spotted a raptor and wants to warn everybody by imitating the sound — blue jays are generally good at that kind of warning call.  So I was already on the look-out.  Hawk, or something, right?  Love to catch sight of that…

And what should sail into view but two freakin’ bald eagles.

One had a fish; the other wanted that fish.  Hijinks ensued.

They weren’t technically bald, as neither had their adult plumage yet; but one was clearly on the way, with great splotches of white on his head and tail.  And they were just up there in the sky, not all that high, and swooping lower.  I didn’t have the presence of mind to pull out my camera; I just soaked it all in.

The one with the fish was heavily burdened; that thing must have been a good 10 inches long, and wriggling like mad in the bird’s talons.  The eagle had to work had to keep in the air –which it was strongly motivated to do, as the other eagle (probably a sibling), kept zooming in, flipping nearly upside down at the last moment, to make its snatches at the prize.

Eventually, the pair moved away from the river and went down the street — and I mean: down the street, lower than the tops of the trees on each side, just sailing along above the empty road. And left at the fork.  And then gone.

Now, I did already know there were bald eagles around here, and I’ve spotted them before, back when I first got this office.  But I hadn’t seen the eagles  for a couple of years, actually. And I’ve even seen this fish-stealing behavior before (between two adults), but at a much greater distance,  with them mere specks, and me squinting up at the sky.

This was amazing.

I do not live in the wilderness — this is a town.  Just now… a bit quieter.

I think I’ll skip the parks and just stroll the streets from now on.  They’ll get busy again, noisy again. But for now: me and the birds.