Libraries and fog

Sharon Ashwood
December 2, 2008  •  No Comments

Okay, so this weekend was The Great Holiday Shopping Adventure, Part Two. That went pretty much as one would imagine. 
The more interesting bit was rattling around the north part of the peninsula with my resident expert on the library system. I’m planning to write a book proposal that involves a library, so I wanted to get the mechanics of their daily chores right.  I thought I’d start by looking at a bunch of branches and, yup, they’re all a little bit different.  They all have their own “feel.” The staff members were very gracious. Being shepherded by one of their own helped, I’m sure, but just the same they let me poke around the back and ask dumb questions and stuff. Much appreciated.
It was a beautifully foggy day. The atmosphere prompted us to talk about some of the supposedly haunted places in town. I say supposedly because I’ve never checked into most of them … I’m always a bit cautious about what’s been inflated for the sake of the tourist brochures.
I do believe in hauntings—though what they are, exactly, I won’t venture to say beyond “energy that once in a while seems to want to interact”.  As an old town in and around a lot of water, we seem to get more than our fair share of spooky. Truth be told, though, after a while it’s just part of the landscape. If you look for stuff, you’ll find it, but most of the time it’s easily ignored, kind of like sparrows or squirrels.


Mr. H.

Sharon Ashwood
November 27, 2008  •  2 Comments

I had an enormously sad day yesterday.

Mr. H., the tabby who thought he was James Dean, was sent to join his brother in the great kitty playground in the sky.

I was one of his “moms” for five years, from kittenhood to his prime. He went on to other adventures, but always allowed my adoration with good grace. He was one of those chunky cats who tried all the Siamese acrobatics and ended up crashing around like a little striped bulldozer, ornaments scattering in his wake. He liked chewing buttons, hiding under scatter rugs and never met a piece of kibble he didn’t like.  More a good-time boy than a scholar, he was always affectionate and ready to play.

I was sorry to see his passing, but it was as good and loving as humans could make it. It’s a hard call to know when enough is enough, and I was grateful that this time the decision was not mine to make. He could have gone on, but there was a lot of discomfort. I think a final, quiet afternoon nap was the right choice.
Cats deal with these occasions better than people. They do what they have to do and move on. We did the best we could to honour his contribution to our happiness, with single malt and a viewing of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Miss ya, little guy.


And then it was … Christmas?

Sharon Ashwood
November 23, 2008  •  No Comments

So, while I had my head buried in a manuscript, the world of commerce evidently marched along to the Christmas season.  This little trick of the calendar struck me over the head as I emerged from my cave, blinking at the bright, tinselly world like a grumpy grizzly.

How did the year fast-forward like this?

Anyway, spent the weekend wading the rapids of rampant consumerism. Went to a craft fair. Went to a few malls. Got a few things off the shopping list as well as mundane tasks like buying a new watch band. I’m not caught up, but at least I’m less far behind!


Santa he isn’t

Sharon Ashwood
October 28, 2008  •  No Comments

There is a recent trend with men in chimneys.  Not long ago, I wrote about a would-be spy stuck in the ducting of an art museum.  Now here’s a naked guy wedged in the chimney of a supermarket in England.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7683826.stm

Is this a trend?  Has the myth of chimney-borne happiness impacted an entire generation of cat burglars? Is there some deep-seated need to act out the Santa psychodrama (in the buff!) in the midst of their nefarious crimes?

I just hope all Santa’s elves received counseling.


Don’t try this with the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness

Sharon Ashwood
October 21, 2008  •  No Comments

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/3229125/Swimming-with-tigers.html

I thought this was just too cool. After dancing with wolves, we can now swim with tigers ….


Scary hobby projects you can find online

Sharon Ashwood
October 12, 2008  •  No Comments

Sometimes when you go a-surfing for interesting tidbits, you find things better left unfound. I stumbled across a short article from last March that relates an incident covered by both London’s Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph.
An older gentleman was living alone in his nice house in Australia. His relatives wanted that nice house and pressured him to move into a seniors’ home. So, he found the plans for a suicide contraption on the Internet that involved power tools and a .22 semi-automatic pistol. He set it up in the driveway, and he killed himself.
Yikes.  The account is very bare-bones, but it seems to me that if this 81 year-old was with it enough to log on, find the plans for this thing, and assemble it, he wasn’t exactly on his last legs. Let’s just say the relatives (going by what the article says) don’t come off well at all.
I’m sure some people will leap up and say “instructions for suicide machines shouldn’t be on the Internet!”, but that is missing the point.  The point is, we can rarely fix families (oh, if only there were handy-dandy diagrams for that!), but it would have been nice if there was enough of a community wherever this guy was to turn to for support.
I guess it’s a reminder to go be nice to our neighbors. After all, I’m told there are plans for thermo-nuclear devices on the Web, too.


Proof of what, exactly?

Sharon Ashwood
September 30, 2008  •  No Comments

It’s hard to describe my emotions when the FedEx man shows up with …. Page proofs!  This is the manuscript with its hair done and its makeup on, all the copyedits included and the type set as it will appear in the book.  It’s the author’s last chance for proofreading, very minor edits, and any afterthoughts before the critter is printed.

What I feel is a kind of mix of “cool!” and “ugh, you again” with a bit of “egad, what have they done this time?”  The biggest challenge is reading through the thing and paying attention to what’s printed on the page. After editing the book so many times, I’m not sure my brain isn’t supplying what it thinks it should see rather than what’s really there. I try and give it to someone who hasn’t seen it before to double check my work.

On the up side, I had a moment of, “hey, this is darned good stuff!” as I ploughed through the pages. In book form, the pacing is more obvious. I’m witty! I’m action-filled! I have great romance scenes! I have good monsters!

Unfortunately, I also have a fair number of typos. Yep, there’re still a few loose ends sticking out, but not for long.

 


I wear dead people

Sharon Ashwood
September 25, 2008  •  1 Comment

http://www.lifegem.com/
http://www.algordanza.org/

Now here’s something I never thought of doing:  squishing my dearly departed into diamonds.  Apparently, it’s not only a reality but financially quite reasonable.  Companies are setting up shop world-wide and are becoming increasingly popular. 

Some make diamonds from the departed’s ashes, others from hair (which means making a gem from the living or someone who has been buried is also possible).  The US-based Lifegem offers their services for pets as well as humans. Basically, if there’s carbon, there’s diamond potential.

This keen-o technology means the funeral service can enter into an entirely new decorative phase, bypassing the entire embalming process in favour of cutting, polishing, and mounting the sparkly deceased into wearable art.  It also has the advantage of saving valuable land—no need for burial plot when dear old mum can be mounted in a cufflink.

Author alert: The possibilities for murder mystery plots abound. One could hide the corpse anywhere— as the crystal of a chandelier, the button of the doorbell, an earring (but then you’d need a matched set!).

To make this all just one bit stranger, the technology for creating synthetic diamonds is good enough they can now be graded. No more nonsense about death being the ultimate leveller!  Figure out which relations really were gems of the first water.

You never know—that old saying about someone being worth more dead than alive might be true.


Maxwell Smart lives on

Sharon Ashwood
September 18, 2008  •  No Comments

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/09/17/national/a143407D31.DTL

I laughed so hard when I read this one.

A would-be intruder tried to enter the Knoxville Museum of Art via the air conditioning duct.  When police and firefighters responded to his 911 call, they found a top and cable on the roof and the caller stuck about 45 feet into the ductwork.

When rescued, he told the arresting officers that he was a “special agent” who had rappelled in from a helicopter.  The mission was to defuse a Soviet nuclear warhead placed in a blue plastic cow sculpture in the basement of the museum.

Oh, those darned Russian art critics.


Wasn’t there an episode of Buffy something like this?

Sharon Ashwood
September 15, 2008  •  1 Comment

http://www.boston.com/news/odd/articles/2008/09/12/mom_allegedly_uses_daughters_id_to_be_cheerleader/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed5

Wendy Brown, a 33-year-old Wisconsin woman, stole her daughter’s ID, enrolled in high school, and joined the cheerleading squad. Her daughter, meanwhile, lived with her grandmother in another state. Apparently the ruse worked up to a point. Although Brown only made it to the first day of classes, she did attend a number of cheerleading activities. The cat left the proverbial bag when a cheque for the uniform bounced.

The motivation for all this was, apparently, that Brown “wanted to get her high school degree and become a cheerleader because she didn’t have a childhood and wanted to regain a part of her life that she’d missed.” She apparently had a history of identity theft.

Perhaps I’m biased because I never wanted to be a cheerleader, but that’s just weird. And sad.

This event does speak to a weird cultural phenomenon—the myth that high school is a peak experience of some kind.  Of what?  It had a few peaks, but it had its share of valleys, too, just like everything else.

Certainly not worth going to to jail over, not even for the pompoms.


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