My PRECIOUS! AKA The One Fork

Sometimes it becomes apparent that what bonds you and your siblings is not just blood, or experience, but shared crazy.

Apropos of nothing, my baby brother texted me a picture of a fork.  Labeled it THE ONE FORK.  And with this text.

BTW: this is the ONE fork.
It came from the house of Robins.
I can find no other like it.
To clone it is my Xmas wish.

I agreed instantly!  I had TWO of those forks.  And this is how I know I’m not a selfless big sister.  He asked me if he could have one…. One of my TWO?!?!

Obviously, desperate measures had to be taken.

Whipped out the research gene, and lo and behold, the forks are still available!  Used, of course, and randomly spread across internet auction sites like eBay, etc.  But there they were! The ONE TRUE FORK! OUR PRECIOUS!!

I sent him the link.  And then decided, hey, two of these forks were nice, but more?  More would be better! El Niño came to the same immediate conclusion.  The texting lapsed.

It lapsed… suspiciously. Pretty much the length of time it took each of us to find our wallets, our credit cards, and start shopping.  Cue a buying spree in two states in two time zones.

I purchased six more of The One Fork!  My brother, losing his mind with excitement, purchased about five forks, two random knives, and a bunch of teaspoons, all in the same pattern.

The thing you have to understand is that this is a cheap fork.  It’s not like we were losing our minds over missing pieces of Granny’s sterling.  No, this is a stainless steel fork that is about one step up from a durable plastic fork.

It’s EKCO brand, which is about as inexpensive as you can get and still have the flatware not bend with use.

It’s not a particularly exciting pattern.  A basic chevron with a couple of random swirl dots at the end.

We don’t even know where these forks came from: our mother denies all knowledge of them, and in fact has been known to sneer at them.

So why, oh why, do we love this particular fork so much?

Easy.

It’s stabby!

It’s lightweight and it pierces everything you poke it at.  You can eat a salad with it and stab a crouton right through the middle without the crouton crumbling!  And if you’re missing a steak knife, well, hell the sides of the fork are thin and sharp enough you can use it to cut with. These forks (3 of them exist for sure, and we may have to poll the other brother to see if he has any of them) survive everything.  They are the first forks we reach for. They are the ONE TRUE FORK.

Even my roommate agrees.  It happened organically.  I have two of the forks.  One of them is always in the dishwasher.  And then, I realized, we were both subtly jockeying for the Stabby Fork at every meal.  Ignoring all the “good” forks.  It’s a mark of favor when one of us steps back and serves the other with the One Fork.

I can’t explain it.  I don’t really know that I can even blame it on nostalgia.

But, at least I’m not alone.

And now, I have more of THE ONE TRUE FORK.

They’re perfect.  They’re the exact same fork, only lots shinier.  And I think I’m going back for the teaspoons. Why?

Because they’re stabby at the tip.

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My PRECIOUS! AKA The One Fork

A miscellany post

AKA things that I have been up to.

Preparing for the holiday cookie siege.  I made chocolate chips, and gingersnaps, and following Sally’s Baking Addiction recommendation, froze most of them in little raw balls of dough ready to be baked.  I always forget how much I love doing that.  You can freeze cookies for later (as long as the fat content is high and you wrap them well), but nothing really beats yanking out a half dozen cookies and having them bake up fresh whenever you want a treat.  I really always mean to do this year ’round and forget.

Someday I will treat puff pastry with the respect it deserves.  But this was not that week.  My roommate cooked up a bunch of local apples with cinnamon and butter and cloves and I bunged a bunch of them into the world’s most haphazard puff pastry wrapping.  They kind of looked like softballs caught mid-explosion, but tasted delicious.  And while I was at it, I used up the nutella to make puff pastry pockets.  I would have used lemon curd, but tragically, it had gone bad.

And reading.  I read a lot but every so often I lose it and go on reading binges.  Usually when I find a new-to-me author who has not only an enjoyable book, but an entire backlisk.  So Clara Coulson.  Yeah.  Her books are urban fantasy fun, and I devoured pretty much all of them between the 9th and the 15th.

CoulsonFatePortendsThat’s three of the Frost Arcana, five of the City of Crows, and one stand-alone Lark Nation novel.  Just a heck of a lot of fun, though I’d say the Frost Arcana are probably the best entry points.  Cal Kinsey in the City of Crows takes a little getting used to.  If he were a heroine, they’d be lining up to call him a Mary Sue.  Mostly Clara Coulson scratches the same itch that Mercedes Lackey used to.  I can’t wait for more of her books!  If you like adventure based urban fantasy with a surprising amount of super-violent action and great fantasy elements, this series might be for you!  Seriously.  After a celtic fantasy binge that lasted through most of high school, I was kind of burned out on the seelie/unseelie/sidhe/tuatha de danaan mythos.  These books make it all feel fresh again.

Things that I have not been up to:

Writing.  Ffs.  I’m about six thousand words into Book 2 of the fantasy series and sort of stopped working on it.  There are reasons (decent ones), but primarily it comes down to lack of organization.  Life gets busier and busier in the fall and I need to take steps to make it easy to sneak a few hundred words here and there.  It’s easy to get hooked into the crutch of the perfectly set up desk with all your note files and scrivener and the white boards full of maps and the walls full of setting pictures and character images, but when you do, you find yourself thinking oh, wish I could work, but so-sad, I’m out of the office, and not near my desk.  So, I’m trying something sensible and slightly new.  Setting up the next scene and tossing those few paragraphs into google docs so I can access it while at the day job, or out and about.  I can read the plan on the phone and write on paper, or I can read it on a desktop and write directly into g docs.  Failing everything else, at least I can keep thinking about where I want to go in the scene!

And a snippet of what I was last working on.

Genee’s feet turned her toward the side stairs and the guest quarters, not to seek her own rest, no. She might not know where Cavenner and her boys had bedded down, or even where Calyx Favager had slunk off to. But the girl…
Genee had made sure she knew exactly where to find her.
Sianan Maccuin jerked to attention when Genee melted out of the stairwell’s shadows and Genee made another mental note: More light. GreenStone Hall was as dark as a tomb.
“Commander,” she said, but quietly. “Do you need…?”
“She hasn’t come out?”
“Been quiet as a mouse,” Sianan said, “Did she really….?”
Genee waited. Sianan had a sneaky habit of talking in questions, letting people fill in the gaps. She learned more than she should that way. But she wasn’t supposed to apply that to her commander.
Sianan shrugged, “Sorry, Commander. Just… it’s such big magic, and it shook all the walls…. Hard to believe such a small girl could do so much damage.”
“She’s a Favager,” Genee said. “They’re nothing but damage waiting to be unleashed”

 

A miscellany post

Must Remember to Skip Movies Made from Favorite Books

I write a lot of feral sorts of women in many of my books.  Maledicte, as likely to stab you as to speak to you; Sylvie, always ready to throw down and go for the throat; and Silene, whose dearest desire is to… well, telling you would be spoilers because I’m not done with those books yet.  There’s more’n a handful of like-minded women in my short fiction.

I, myself, was a feral sort of child.  Good parents, all of that, yet my brother and I were a tumbleweed of fighting and biting and scratching all the time.  Too many thoughts and not enough words in the world to express them.

But it was all right, because I could read about Meg Murry.  And she was a feral child.  Poked with a metaphorical stick, she poked back, hard and fast and angry.  She stood up for her small brother with instant fury and no real sense of perspective.  She was as merciless on herself as she was on others.  And she wanted justice.  More than anything else, she felt the world’s unfairness keenly and wanted people to SORT IT OUT.  I really adored Meg.  I  read A Wrinkle in Time until the book literally fell apart.

What this is all leading up to is my disappointment with the new movie of A Wrinkle in Time movie.  I wanted to like it.  I really really did.  But Meg… she isn’t angry.  She’s insecure.  She feels… sanitized.  The principal accuses her of being hostile, but… she’s just sullen.  Locked down.  She’s not my Meg.  (no criticism of Storm Reid; I blame the writing/directing.)  In the book, Meg attacks boys older than she is and comes home bruised and snappish, having defended Charles Wallace from their comments.  In the movie… she carefully pops a basketball into her classmate’s face after a similar comment.  It’s… deliberate.  It’s calculated.  What it isn’t is a savage instinctive reaction.

The whole movie (perhaps the whole movie, I admit I noped out after they arrived on Camazotz out of sheer boredom) just feels… tidied.

In the book, the Murrys live in a repurposed summer house that they retreated to after the father vanished.  It’s an old building perched at the edge of old woods and very isolated.  They’re under hurricane weather, and the house is shaking with the storm and Meg is savagely critical of herself for being afraid….  Then Mrs. Whatsit blows in.  In the book, she, too, is a feral sort of creature, a scheming disaster of a personality trying to cadge Russian caviar for a sandwich because she knows its there.  In the movie, we get Reese Witherspoon in ruffled-sleeved bedsheets, wearing glitter and gold.  When Reese Whatsit goes back into the night and declares perkily that “Wild Nights are my Glory”, I… laughed.  Because it’s the suburbs, and she’s under a street lamp, and there’s a bare puff of air to show that it’s a stormy night.

Sigh.  I wanted to like it.  But I couldn’t.  Not when they stripped all the wild and strange pieces from the story and left us with a collection of sweet, but standard heroes on an adventure.  In the book, Charles Wallace doesn’t speak in public, so people think he’s mentally deficient.  In the movie, he tells off a teacher or two and chats easily with everyone.  This easy comfort with other people really takes away from his trust in the Mrs. Ws and in Calvin. Part of the reason that everyone goes along with these strange women-like-things is because Charles Wallace trusts them.

In the book, Calvin is the kid (3rd of 11) in the wrong family; he doesn’t fit in and his mother is difficult and abusive–physically-run down (after 11 kids!) and prone to whacking at her kids with a soup ladle.  In the movie, Calvin is an only child with the oh-so-familiar Mean Dad verbally abusing him for his failings.  It’s just all so … familiar.  It could be any fantasy movie.

I reread the book today, and it doesn’t stand up to all my memories–front-heavy, the climax choppy and truncated–but the savagery is still there.  Meg is still the character I remember and love, and she deserved better than this.  All the savage girls do.

 

 

Must Remember to Skip Movies Made from Favorite Books

Learning in the Animal World

I am not the most… disciplinary of pet people.  I blame it on my scientist background.  When it comes down to a disciplinary moment, at least fifty percent of the time, I just sit back and watch things play out instead of leaping in with a stern “NO!” and redirection.  I like to see animals problem solve, even if that problem is: the new bag of dog cookies is up higher than I can reach by stretching, how can I get to that delicious bag, maybe if I stand on this chair here, and LEAP….  Or maybe I can scare a cat into running across the bookshelf and knocking it down….

I like to see things learn, is what it comes down to.  And pets do learn!  They learn from each other, they learn from other species, and they learn from watching us.

IMG_2217I have a kitten (though he turned two earlier this month) who I adopted from my vet clinic.  Remy.  He’s a little psycho, and was obviously feral before he was captured and cleaned up.  As my friend Leigh says, “He didn’t know how to cat.”  One of the little hiccups in this behavior earned him the nickname “Stinkpot” from the vet clinic, because he’d hit the litter box and then zip out, without covering his waste.  This behavior continued when I brought him home.  It continued until the day my older, bigger cat Dean followed him into the litterbox, and bitching the entire time, covered up the waste.

Now Remy covers up.  He covers up OBSESSIVELY but cats can never do things the easy way.  But hey, he learned his lesson.  And often he runs over to Dean to whisker talk right after. I have to assume it’s the equivalent of a toddler reporting in to their parents that they went potty!

Ursula curious 2I have Ursula, the young dog (she is just shy of two years and she is a veritable sponge of learning.)

Sometimes she learns things I would prefer her not to learn, but that’s the way it goes.

My roommate found a muppet running loose on the street and brought it home for its own safety (a golden doodle pup about Ursula’s age, twice her size).  Ursula was ENCHANTED, right up to the moment where the muppet leaped up on her hind legs, and smacked Ursula flat to  the floor with both front legs.  SMACK!  FLAT DOG!

Ursula was stunned.  What was that?  She didn’t know dogs could do that???  They went on to play until the muppet’s owner was located.

Then, two days later, Ursula rose onto her hind legs and brought both forepaws down at once and SMACKED Dean into the floor.  Ursula was thrilled!  She did it right!  Sadly, she’s been doing it ever since.  SMACK goes the kitten.  SMACK goes the other dog.  SMACK goes Dean–though, showing his own learning, he’s learned to get out of the way.  I do intervene when she attempts to smack down the elderly cat who is pretty much all bones and attitude.

And she learns from me. Not just the useful things like “sit”, “no teeth”, “drop the ball”, and “for god’s sake don’t eat that, drop it drop it now!” But things I never ever had any intention or concept that I could teach her.

As an example, I make my bed every morning (ADULTING!) and every morning I have to kick the dogs off so that I can get it tidy.  This involves a lot of complaining and saying “Scoot!” and flipping the covers around.  This is particularly complicated by the fact that I have a top layer that gets changed daily so the dog fur and dog detritus does not get into the actual bedding.

Lately, Ursula has been performing a strange behavior.  One where she races into the bedroom, starts yanking on all the blankets, and making her strange little talky noises.  She only does this when I’m there to watch her, and she always stops and grins at me after she’s gone mangling the top of my bed.  It has finally dawned on me: the damn dog is mocking me.  She’s doing the equivalent of saying “Haha, this is you!  Look at me, I’m being the silly person! Wah wah wah toss the sheets around. Wah wah wah.”

It makes me wonder what else they learn from us that we don’t recognize right away.

 

 

 

Learning in the Animal World

JL Gribble’s Steel Time : Book Release

So a fellow Speculative Chic has her book out this week!  While I haven’t read the Steel Empires books yet, this sounds like a fun series, and I am going to remedy this lack!  I’m always on the hunt for good urban fantasy.  Mothers and daughters and vampires and that gorgeous cover!  But I’ll be honest; she had me at sarcastic violin players. Definitely a series I’ll be checking out.  What’s it about?  Look below!

 

This week, book 4 of the Steel Empires urban fantasy/alternate series is released! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step. Read on for more information about Steel Time, by J.L. Gribble

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.

Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.

Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.

Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.

Currently available from:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (the author’s local indie bookseller)
Or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!

ABOUT THE SERIES

It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!

Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 2: Steel Blood

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.

Find her online at:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

JL Gribble’s Steel Time : Book Release

Vacation miscellany

So the weird thing about working a day job as well as working for yourself is that you can take a vacation from one or the other as well as both.  Having finished up a writing project (the draft of Ring of Stones is done!  Hoorah! and in the agent’s lap!  Hooray!  Not my problem for a little bit!) I decided I wanted a week off without coming home from the day job and sitting right back down in front of the computer.

Not writing in the evening is giving me a strange, luxurious feeling right now.  It won’t last.  I’ll get antsy and the scene notes I’m taking currently (that doesn’t count as work, right?) will demand to be made into actual scenes and chapters and so forth.  But for right now, I feel like I have all this free time!

I have watched the entirety of The Good Place, season 2!  I do love those characters.  I love how clever the show-writers are in making this premise continue to work for them. As a side note, I hate sitcoms, so the fact that I love this one should tell you they’re doing something quite different than the usual sitcom fare.

I have attempted to make stir-fried rice.  That… was not quite a failure, in that the end result was edible.  Just not good.  I need to figure out the heat issue better, find a more useful recipe (though a friend linked me to an NYT recipe that looks good), and use the good cast iron skillet.  The one I used is still pretty new and not as seasoned as it should be. The cast iron skillet that I took from my childhood home, on the other hand, is amazing.

I have read three books:

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine: seriously intense thriller.  I loved it.  Had to put it down a couple of times just to go breathe.  I think it’s that you know she has significant enemies, but like her, you just don’t know what direction they’re coming from. Recommended if you like thrillers. Or Kelley Armstrong’s Casey Duncan series.

Hazard by Devon Monk: Magical Hockey League.  Wizards and werewolves on the ice, oh my!  Not an unqualified success, but fun to read.

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett: I’m always seeing comedic mysteries compared to Stephanie Plum books, but this one kind of merits the comparison (in the good way!).  Dayna and her friends are funny, a little nuts, loyal, and moving through LA society in a very entertaining way.  That they’re trying to solve crime at the same time–a definite plus.

I’m embarking on City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett, both because it’s been in my TBR pile since it came out and as a consolation prize for being on a book budget at the moment and not buying Foundryside right away.  Later, Foundryside, I’m coming for you!  RJB is a writer I really admire, incorporating great characters–realistic, interesting, compelling–in a wonderful setting. You are definitely “there” when you read his works.

Vacation miscellany