Monday, October 30, 2006

Viking Cat Farms

We're back now, from Scotland. It was a really, really lovely trip. I'm so glad we went. We met some of the best, mostly lovely (there's that word's a UK thing, I think, right up there with "wee") people I've ever met. It was a really welcome respite from "real" life.

If I use the word "really" again, just smack me.

The first part of the trip was to Bladnoch, located in the Lowlands area (Galloway), near Wigtown. Not that anyone's ever heard of even Wigtown (the book capital of Scotland), but seriously NO ONE has heard of Bladnoch. One of the other guys in the Distillery School with us actually got in an argument with a cab driver in Glasgow who insisted that there was no such place!

So, yes, we were there for Whisky School. We learned how to make Scotch whisky (note the absence of the extra "e" we Americans put in). We also drank a fair bit of it. Raymond & Florence own the distillery and they are truly awesome people. I think Raymond has a story for everything and Florence is his long-suffering (but not really suffering) wife. John, the StillMan, is just a great big teddy bear of a guy. He and Hugh, his assistant & the official "angel" of the distillery (i.e. the angel's share is supposed to be the whisky that evaporates while in the barrel) are probably my favorite new friends. Also at the distillery are Sue and Kevin, two more just lovely people with a funny little pooch named Mabel. And Yolanda, though I didn't get to talk to her much.

This was the first "Wild Scotsman" sponsored whisky school. I'm not sure how they were structured before. The Wild Scotsman is Jeoff, who should wear his hair down more often. And his mentor, one of the wily greats in Scottish whisky history, John McDougall.

Then there were the other attendees: Michael, probably the singularly most whisky-obsessed person I've ever met in my entire life; Eric, the quiet one with a good sense of humor; Jay, the rock-n-roll guy of the session (I'm not sure if I've ever met a more unlikely lawyer); Iain, the youngest and most hip of all of us (he's in a cool band called the Skarsoles) and the son of the bottler; Drew, Jeoff's cousin and the owner of a pub in Pittsburgh; and Lee & his wife & sister, a soft-spoken Southern gentleman from the same town Tony was born in.

All the other people we met too -- local rugby players, local farmers (Gordon, for one, a really nice fellow), the B&B owners (Mr. & Mrs. Key - she being the one singularly responsible for me gaining 5 pounds, I think), the pub owners (Sinead, Derek, and young Derek)...small town Scotland is a nice place to visit.

All of the pics are up at I took 724 of 'em, though a few are videos I haven't figured out how to post yet.

We also spent some time in Glasgow (kind of industrial, but with some hidden gems if you walk around) and Edinburgh (very old, lots of history, and lots of hills). A friend of Tony's from work took us out one night (Julie and her husband Fraser). They were also just lovely people.

One other interesting note...I've studied quite a bit of faerie history/fable and I'd heard of Aiken Drum, but had not realized that his story originated in Bladnoch! Very, very cool. Raymond even had the whole Aiken Drum poem up (I've only seen bits of it before in my reference book by Katherine Briggs).

Oh...and the Viking Cat Farms of the guidebooks in the B&B in Bladnoch mentioned another local town -- Whithorn -- and said that it was worth a visit because of the archaeological evidence of VIKING CAT FARMS.

That has to be singularly the strangest thing I have ever heard of.

But true...I just looked it up and the Whithorn site (everything has a website these days) says: "Whithorn also came under Viking influence and from this period, archaeological evidence suggests that cats were farmed for their skins and finely decorated antler combs were manufactured."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Eat me. Drink me.

So much going on. But I don't feel like I can talk about some of it, at least not yet. Big changes in the air. Maybe. That's why I don't want to talk about it yet. If they don't come, I don't want to have mentioned it.

Pfloof. Confused yet?

Anyway, the St. James Ct. Art Show was this past weekend. Sadly, my work on it is not yet complete. It has been like a part time (and sometimes full time) job since maybe March or so. Or maybe January. I don't even know anymore. I want the DB to be DONE. At the moment, my big problem is a really ugly page that's hard to read. It's the fee charging page. I'm trying to find a way to do it that makes sense, is usable and readable, and won't cause me too many coding headaches and won't take too many page clicks. That last thing is the real clicker. They don't want too many clicks. But to fit everything on one page is a nightmare. really comes down to a) one click and really confusing or b) many clicks and straightforward. But they said amount of clicks was one of their top

I hope to get that done tomorrow. Then I can get the last of the fees in and start on the documentation and the few other code pieces that I can complete. Then I'll hand that over along with the names of some local programmers who can do the more complex pieces. I just can't devote this much time to it any longer. I need to write.

I've actually been writing's just in my head. It needs to come out (if it's in him, then it's got to come out). Onto paper, or the electronic equivalent thereof.

Did learn about a series by Christopher Pike that's about a girl who discovers she's the Queen of the Fairies (like my Abigail) but his is darker and for older teens. Still, I waver on poor Abigail regularly. I like it.'s gone through so many changes, many of which were just in my head. Originally, her grandmother wasn't really dead, she was just captured by the Unseelie Court (and originally, I was getting WAY too in depth and using much more real fairie history, stuff about the Ulster Court and who knows what else...great for a research paper but not for MG fiction.) and Abigail's goal was to win her freedom, rather than take up the crown. But that story was just too involved and long. Now Abigail's goal, really, is to figure out how to accept the Queenhood before her mother does.

I dunno. Sometimes I want to go work on something else. I haven't worked on much at all lately. Except in my head. Hopefully I won't lose it all.

I have a short story about a character named Barnabus Grady in my head. And the start of that book about Death's Apprentice. I'm kind of excited about that one. At least I haven't heard of anything else like it (and good heavens, if you know of something, please don't tell me). And I have a completed short crime fiction/noir-ish piece that I need to send out again. Hard to find a market for that stuff, I'm afraid. I'd sent it to Ellery Queen knowing that it wasn't exactly up their alley and they sent me back a nice rejection saying they liked it, but it didn't fit.

Oooooohhhh though I might have just found a place for it. I did a search for Hardboiled (which is the magazine that I sold my last fiction piece to -- another crime fiction/noir-ish piece) and came up with Hardluck Stories. The submission call that ends Jan 2007 is actually perfect for my piece, which features a female protaganist. Hmmmmmm. But it is non-paying. Maybe I'll keep looking. Maybe I'll send it to Hardboiled again. I like that mag anyway, even if you can't hardly find it on a shelf.

Wondering why a primarily YA gal happens to write hardboiled fiction every now and again? Eh, me too. I guess it's because I was a Spillane junkie for a while when I was about 15.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Airborne Cats

This gave me a smile today: Airborne Cats by junko.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Time keeps on slipping...slipping...into the future...

Wow, it's been so long since I blogged in here. I've been sick. So sick, I'm sick of being sick. Went right from the whole stomach nausea-ness to bronchitis, but I'm almost done with that now (yes, have the thing where I sound like an 80 year-old woman who started smoking at age 3). Also started going to physical therapy for my back/leg. That's going pretty well. I'm kind of sore afterwards, but I'm starting to improve my range of motion (my right leg has about 1/2 the range of motion of my left).

The funny, well maybe not so funny least, not in a *funny* kind of way...more like in a funny-sad kind of way or maybe, well, maybe just not funny at all. Anyway, one of my "trouble spots" is the big 'ol muscle that basically makes up the right half of my butt. (oooh! I said butt!) Actually, it's officially called the piriformis. Heh, you can even see a picture of one (kind of) here. And no, that definitely isn't me. My butt hasn't been that small in a long, long time. And I don't wear granny underwear. That poor girl. But then, she looks like she must be about 10, so she shouldn't be wearing sexy underwear anyway.


The piriformis is the muscle that sits over the sciatic nerves and some lateral rotators and basically attaches your spine (sacrum) to your hipbone. Well, anyway, mine doesn't work right anymore. The one on the right side, anyway. It's constantly clenched up tight like a fist, which annoys the nerves, causes me to have searing (and/or shooting and/or dull throbbing) pain and sometimes numbness (sometimes down to my toes), and is generally a big, uh, big pain in the butt. (hahaha) It may or may not be related to the whole bulging-disc-into-the-nerve-that-goes-down-my-right-leg-thing.

To get back to the, part of the physical therapy is them trying to get the darn thing to loosen up and whatnot. That involves some big physical therapist guy (or sometimes, a woman...and they tend to be big too) to basically have to do a deep tissue massage of the area. And like poke and prod it. So...yeah, I go and get my butt massaged. Isn't that something?

Of course, that isn't all I do. I have to do stretches and some exercise machine things. The stretches don't look like much, mainly because there's a fine line for me in my current state between stretching and aggravating. Basically, certain of my muscles have turned into permanently grouchy charlie horses. Oh, and they hook me up to an H-Wave machine too (kind of similar to the TENs device the chiropractor used to hook me up to, but this does both high and low frequency stuff). Yeesh, I feel like Frankenstein. But with stuff attached to my butt instead of my neck.

I tell ya, though, it still feels weird to just lie there while they massage your butt. And it kind of hurts. But in a good-bad way. Like at least something is being done. Sometimes a little extra pain is better than the same pain. Does that make sense?

At least I seem to be able to sit at my desk for 30 minutes at a stretch before it gets unbearable. Hmmmm, hey, that sounds like another excuse for my not having updated the blog, eh? It's true, too, so bonus!


Tony is gone all this week, poor guy. Two days in Deerfield and then 3 in Toronto. The big art show I've been slaving on for ages now is this weekend, starting on Friday. I volunteer in the beer booth Friday morning and then I have to do some judging after that. Maybe Saturday will be my wander-around-for-fun day. I also have to find a pair of earrings for Pam to replace ones I gave her before that disappeared.

And I'm running a daily contest on the site until Oct 13th, so I'm keeping up with that. I have a HUGE stack of books to review that I've already read (I can read while laying down; it doesn't aggravate the back as much). I desperately need to update the Prize Bucket. And do a mailing. And...and lots of stuff. I'm always behind.

There's other news, but it'll wait for now. Gives me a goal so I'll come back and get back on this puppy.