dianeduane: (New DD Av)
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Previously, somewhere in the main city of the Khe’tek continent on Rirhath B, just outside the Crossings:

“It’s not like it’s a bad look…”

“Mmmm… I don’t know. It’s—”

“Unsettling.”

“No, not like that. It’s just that—”

“Just what?”

“I could kind of get used to it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“I mean, really really?”

“Well—”

“Take a leak first and then tell me that.”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)
image

The woman in the black jeans walks down a country road, in conversation with people only she can hear. Since she’s not using a mobile phone, anywhere else this would be seen as a dubious sign. Fortunately no one’s around to see except the people she’s talking to.

“There are only two kinds of people,” Nita says.

“Mmm?” Kit says. His mouth is full at the moment.

“Those who bite the ends off their ice cream cones when the ice cream starts melting,” Nita says, “and those who don’t.”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)
image

(Manual transcription, JD REDACTED XXXXXXXX.xxx - XXXXXXXX.xxx inclusive)

recording state: static | DYNAMIC
editing: locked | UNLOCKED
live context: off | ON
location: Sol IIIa
Illumination: 26%
Phase from primary: waning crescent
Coordinates: IAU: LQ11: 22.5° N / 18° W

regional designation: IAU: Montes Carpatus (old style: Lunar Carpathians)
microregion: no formal designation, no colloquial designation, reference coordinates; bookmark “Kit’s Rock”
Playback: flat text | CONTEXTUAL POV TEXT | audio | audio + view | audio + view + interior cognitive [more]
POV selection: static | dynamic | CONTEXT-DRIVEN | [more]
POV style: omnicient (total) | omniscient (need to know) | BLIND ITEM NARRATIVE | normal narrative | stream of consciousness [more]
POV narration: 3P | 2P | 1P | P-NEUTRAL [more]
POV depth: EXTERIOR | int. conscious | int. subconscious | int. preconscious [more]

(record begins)

CKR: You keep fiddling with that.

JLC: Yeah… the record settings are way more involved than I thought. Way more involved than they used to be, anyway. I messed something up the other day.

CKR: Anything serious?

JLC: Not really… got lucky that time.

CKR: ...Up here again.

JLC: Yeah, seems smartest. We’ll have some warning in case Certain People start looking for us.

CKR: Like we have the slightest chance of escaping notice—

JLC: Didn’t say that. Some warning, though.

CKR: Fair enough.

(break in record)
(record resumes)

JLC: It wasn’t, though.

CKR: It kinda was.

JLC: Uh, not really.

CKR: Look, it’s not like you were trying to hide anything about it. You told me you two were kissing. It’s okay.

JLC: But it wasn’t making out.

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)
image

“I will kill her.”

“Oh, come on.”

“Kill. Her. Kit. Destroy her. When she gets home I will decimate her.”

“Uh, you can’t do that.”

“Yes I can. Prepare to watch me.”

“No, I mean you can’t decimate her. Decimating means killing one out of every ten of a bunch of people.”

“Thank you, oh great history freak.”

“I am not a history freak — “

“Oh yes you are. Increasingly. Even Mars is taking a back seat lately.”

“It is not! I just — “

“Kit, face it. Machiavelli has lured you over to the historic side of the Force. Don’t even try to pretend.”

“…So, all right, it is kinda cool. So it started sinking in finally. The way everything connects—”

“Fine. I don’t care. If I can’t decimate her, tell me a good word for how dead I’m going to kill her.”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)
>Down the tracks at Grand Central Terminal

The ears itch, and they don’t seem to fit Kit’s head properly.

Which is peculiar, since they came with it as a set.

“Stop waving them around like flags, for the Tom’s sake,” says the voice from behind him. “It’s only going to make it worse. Hold still and settle.”

Easy for you to say, Kit thinks, bristling….which by itself is weird enough. All around him are incredible screeching and groaning noises, metal on metal. The darkness isn’t anything like as dark as it ought to be. His nose is being assaulted with smells, lots of very serious smells: stale water, rust, and a whole lot of the back-alley kind of smell you get in places where people haven’t felt like using a urinal or a toilet. It seems impossible that a place Kit thinks he knows so well could be so unsettling. When you’re human, the far end of one of the passenger platforms at Grand Central Terminal smells a whole lot different.

“I know,” says the voice behind him. “Sensory overload. There’s always a lot of that in the first few minutes of a change. But it’ll be louder where we’re going, so just hold yourself still and get used to it.”

Kit squeezes his eyes shut, which helps a little. His changed eyes don’t exactly see only in black and white, as too many humans think, but their light-gathering ability in these conditions is amazing, and somehow manages to fake the effect of color vision. It’s the infrared, I guess. And certainly you see a lot more texture with these eyes. But the noise… and the smell…!

What really annoys Kit, though—because he can feel two sets of attention fixed very critically on him—is that Nita seems to be having no trouble with today’s job, none at all. She’s sitting off to one side in the shape of kind of a brunette tabby cat, looking over her shoulder at her tail; and her ears are working just fine. No one’s paying her any attention. It’s all on Kit, who seems to just keep getting things wrong.

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dianeduane: (New DD Av)
Gili Motang is quite a beautiful island. Hot white sun, hot blue sky, warm blue water, beautiful scrub-forested hills over fascinating volcanic terrain: there’s a lot to recommend the place. Most of the beaches there aren’t great—way too rocky and North Shore-ish for the tastes of wizards raised closer to the pale smooth sand of Jones Beach. But there’s more to life than beaches, and Gili Motang has a lot going for it even where the beach is rocky and there’s driftwood and such lying around.

“So the Lone Power, the Michael Power and the Hesper walk into a bar…”

“Wait. No. Why would they even do that?”

“What, go into a bar?”

“No, walk into one.”

“Yeah, they’d just sort of appear, wouldn’t they? — ”

…Also lying around are five or six bored-looking komodo dragons, sprawled in the sun or hunched up in the shade of various boulders and gazing longingly about them at apparently unprotected creatures that they consider might be nice as prey. But the apparent lack of protection (as one or two of the dragons have discovered over the course of the afternoon) is deceptive. Now they sit about looking vaguely cranky at being disrespected, as no one’s paying them any attention any more.

This would be because the dragons have had their chance for the day with the one person here who is really interested in them. This is someone who looks very much like a dinosaur of the low-slung, heavy saurian type, and she’s finally finished having her regularly-scheduled temper tantrum over the stupid, stupid creatures who can’t see the advantages of being moved wholesale to another really lovely planet where all kinds of sentient beings who give a damn are just waiting to dance attendance on them twenty-six hours a day, the dimwitted, infuriating little—

“Ahem. Mamvish?”

“Yeah, Mamvish?”

“Projecting again!”

“Sorry. Sorry…”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)

You’d have trouble getting a definitive estimate of how many people pass through the Crossings on any given day. For one thing, the management has some reason to obfuscate the stats, specifically for security purposes. But regardless of the exact transit numbers being hidden, no one would argue the concept that a lot of people don’t go to the Crossings just to go somewhere else. Many go there just to go, because it truly is a stunning tourist destination..

Others, however, go to shop. Some go there to help others shop. And some… are less open about their motives.

***

Two young women, one almost a head taller than the other, materialize together on one of the blue-glowing hexes of the Gate 330 area. This forcewalled region of the wide white-shining Main Concourse floor is a “hard” target set aside for legacy gates like the oldest ones on Earth, which is where these travelers have come from; a routing via a dedicated catenary system in the New York suburbs, linking (for energy-saving purposes) through the old high-powered gate at Chur, and popping out here.

Reflexively the young women, seasoned travellers both, glance around them for a second after they manifest to make sure that none of the adjoining hexes are live: a smart move, as even in a facility this sophisticated, it only takes one software glitch combined with one careless moment to leave a person literally and physically bridging two different worlds. Once they’re sure the neighboring hexes are dark, they stroll off and out into the Concourse: a girl in blue jeans and a couple of layered tops in rose and green, under a short denim jacket; her companion in layered skirts and a force-braced camisole with red chase-light embroidery, keyed to her pulse.

“So, the emmfozing….”

“Yeah? What about it?”

“You were going to tell me how you got into it.”

“Yeah, well, you know how it is. Once you start grenfelzing, one thing just kind of leads to another…”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)

It’s a sufficiently unusual occurrence that you have to dig around in the Wizard's Manual a fair bit to find it.

Most potential practitioners of the Art make the acquaintance of wizardry through the direct and usually rather obscure action of the Powers that Be. The probationary-wizard-to-be comes across something unusual: an odd book or a peculiar computer or tablet, a voice that speaks to him or her alone, an object that somehow holds knowledge inside it and whispers it into the heart. Sooner or later the finder progresses through this initial discovery to the personal Choice offered by the presentation of the Wizard’s Oath, and (if it’s accepted) to the Ordeal that follows.

But sometimes matters go differently. Sometimes—for reasons best known to Themselves, normally having to do with something private but important in the potential wizard’s makeup, some situation making a personal touch the most effective—the Powers call in presently-practicing wizards to assist in the delivery of the Manual or “induction instrument”. These so-called assisted inductions can be (seemingly) very simple, or sometimes fairly complex.

The one presently in progress would probably qualify as the latter.

“Are you ready?”

“No, because I can not keep this hair under control!”

“Stop fussing. And hold still or the stealth spell’ll slip. No no, not that way!”

“I told you, the hair…! It’s all over the place, it’s trying to strangle me, I swear, did you forget an inhibitor variable on that routine?”

“Two secs, I’ll have a look — “

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dianeduane: (Default)

(Loosely rendered from the Speech: from the [archival] Open Access Intervention Circular section of the Wizard’s Manual, current recension)

Intervention KRNC18663-48293-beta-mawein-9964. Precis (full post-sitrep attached)

JD 2455642.104167: Participants were requested by Stationmaster CICWGF to intervene in ongoing gate transport management-normalization arrangement (finalization of local gate emplacement and positioning agreement with joint authority of civil authorities managing outsystem transport for Mazjerath (AB Can Ven IIa). After brief pre-intervention consultation period with CICWGF staff, participants engaged with Mazjerathint authorities via Manual dialogue and reached initial placement and augmentation agreement.

Participants then transited to CICWGF (1) via SO3GCT (2) to confirm necessary authorizations and complete social elements of agreement implementation...

“Oh, it’s no big deal, he said. Nothing at all difficult involved, he said. Just go there and be really impressive, they’ll fall all over themselves to meet you because they read the news, don’t they? — but even more than that because you’re from Sol III and have this big fat rep because Earth’s so full of legacy gates and you’re a perfect example of how easy Crossings-connected gates are to work with. He said.” A furious pause. “Then just get them to sign off on the agreement, he said. No big deal.”

“I don’t get it. They seemed like such nice people.”

“He tried to pull my head off! Did you see that!”

“It didn’t look like your head he was aiming for.” And Nita finds it hard not to snicker.

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)

“Remind me why we’re here again?”

“Privacy.”

A rather prolonged silence. Then: “…Yeah.”

“I mean, you did say…”

“I did.”

“Be hard to get much more private than this.” A point it would have been hard to refute, as they are sitting on a lone nickel-iron asteroid floating in utter darkness, and the nearest other matter was literally millions of lightyears away.

“Uh, yeah. How many universes over?”

“I didn’t ask. I mean, the transport subsidy is unlimited until the Invitational’s over…”

“A lot of energy to be spending…”

“Yeah. But all the small print said was ‘Don’t waste it.’ I don’t think this is wasted. And it’s the user’s call.”

Another brief silence.

“And anyway, it’s not like we did it in actual distance. We’re right where Earth would be. This is just a much smaller continuum. That’s this whole inhabited universe, up there.”

“No wonder it’s a little on the dim side.”

“Yeah, well, these are the cheap seats.”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (Default)
Black Friday graphic

ETA: This offer has been extended to 00:01 Hawai'ian time on Monday the 26th.

Yes, it's that magic day when the Intarwebz go crazy, and why should we get left out?

For Black Friday at Ebooks Direct -- home of ebooks from Diane Duane and Peter Morwood -- everything in the store is 50% off. That includes the 9-volume complete ebook set of the (unrevised )Young Wizards International series (already a great deal even when it's not this deeply discounted): the revised and updated New Millennium Edition of So You Want to Be a Wizard: and the four books of the Middle Kingdoms / "Tale of the Five" high fantasy sequence (The Door into Fire, The Door into Shadow, The Door into Sunset) both individually and as an omnibus, along with the Middle Kingdoms short fiction collection, Lior and the Sea.

Also available at 50% off are standalone fantasy novels like the urban fantasy / police procedural Stealing the Elf-King's Roses and the historical fantasy Raetian Tales 1: A Wind from the South: the two collections of my short fiction, Uptown Local and Other Interventions and Midnight Snack and Other Fairy Tales.

From the other side of the household, also included at the Black Friday 50%-off price are the three novels of Peter Morwood's classic "Tales of Old Russia" series, both in individual volumes and the new 3-volume omnibus ebook: and Peter's two prequel novels to the Horse Lords series, the "Clan Wars" novels Greylady and Widowmaker, out of print for some years from their UK publisher but now available exclusively here in updated versions.

All our books are available in the major ebook formats, all are DRM-free, and many are available in multi-format bundles at no extra cost (because why should you have to pay extra just because you have more than once device?) All you have to do is use the discount code / coupon code BLACKFRIDAYLJ at checkout. (A little screenshot-tutorial on how to use our discount codes is here if you want to have a look at it.)

So come on over and shop early and often! You don't even have to move from wherever your computer or mobile device is (thank goodness).  You can also sign up for our general mailing list here if you'd like to be kept informed of new releases across the bookstore, or for the list that's specifically about the Young Wizards / New Millennium Editions releases. (By the way, don't forget: the New Millennium Edition of Deep Wizardry releases at Ebooks Direct on November 26th.)

And thanks for your interest!

dianeduane: (Default)

Next Monday is Cyber Monday, and starting at 0800 UK/Irish time that day, our Ebooks Direct store will be launching the New Millennium Edition of Book 2 of the Young Wizards series, Deep Wizardry.

Like the NME of So You Want to Be a Wizard, this is a revised and updated version of Deep Wizardry, brought up to date for its new generation of 21st-century readers. Besides undergoing some general polishing and tidying, the novel has been revised to include modern technology more appropriate to the here and now than the original 1980s edition, and also continues the process of establishing a new, corrected timeline for the characters and events to carry the Young Wizards series forward into its new century.

There will also be a new cover for this edition by the magnificent Niko Geyer (who did the new cover for So You Want to Be a Wizard). Please note, however, that due to some temporary logistical problems at our Irish production end, that cover will not be available for the Cyber Monday launch. As soon as it is ready, purchasers will be notified so they can download copies of the book with the new cover.

The other two of the first four NMEs (High Wizardry and A Wizard Abroad) will be ready before Christmas: subscribers to the Ebooks Direct general notifications mailing list will be notified as soon as they're ready. If you'd like to be notified when they'll be available, please feel free to use the form below to sign up. All nine books in the Young Wizards series will be available in the New Millennium Editions by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Also: before Cyber Monday comes Black Friday, and the Ebooks Direct store will be celebrating that weekend as well. Subscribers to our store's general notification mailing list will be offered special discounts for the Black Friday weekend. If you're interested in availing yourself of these, you can use the form below to sign up: a mailing with the pertinent information will be going out within the next 48 hours. (Just a general note about our list, by the way: we normally only send out a mailing once a month or so unless there's a significant release. Naturally you can opt out of the list at any time. And equally naturally, we'll never share your email address with anyone else. The very thought.)

Thanks in advance for your interest!


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dianeduane: (Default)
If (as some characters at the heart of other fandoms have been heard to suggest) a date is when two people who like each other go out together to have fun, then Nita and Kit have probably been dating for years. In fact, you could make a case that quite a lot of the elective type of wizardry could fall into this category. Human wizards have been getting together to do paired and grouped wizardly interventions for as long as humans have practiced the Art, and they haven’t always done it simply because a group would produce the best results in an intervention. They do it because (like so many other things) wizardry gains in value when it’s shared: or because they like the people they do it with, and want to do more of the same kind of thing.

But normally the concept of the date suggests something besides just going out to have fun. About the word, in English anyway, there hovers a sense that the fun itself is almost secondary. The real business of the evening is seeing the other person (or people) involved in the equation having that fun in company with you, and being in a position to share some of the overspill of their pleasure — but also, most importantly, to have the other person know that their happiness is making you happy too. And in the truly perfect date, this whole set of conditions is duplicated in the other person (or people), so that the exterior delight in the event itself, and the interior delight in the other person’s enjoyment of what’s going on, reflect back and forth as in a hall of virtual mirrors — seemingly increasing one another the way light, so remirrored, seems to increase light even when there’s been no net addition to the energy input. No one who’s ever been on such a date is likely to forget it...whether they're a wizard or not.
Read more... )
dianeduane: (Default)

One couch. Two wizards. One bowl of popcorn (at the moment). One cranky and difficult entertainment system.

“Why this one?”

A shrug. “Everybody says it’s this classic, but I’ve never seen it all the way through.”

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen any of it at all.”

“Good. …God, was there ever a time when titles were so short?”

“Was that it? You’re kidding me.”

“…Wow, that is the cheapest looking globe ever. Look how the clouds are covering up the bottom so you can’t see what it’s spinning on.”

“Look at that poor guy juggling. How long do you think he had to do that while they were shooting? ‘Can I please stop juggling now? Please?!’”

“Look! Picchus on a stick!”

“It’s a basket, actually.”

“Basket on a stick!”

“Hey, there’s the monkey from Raiders of the Lost Ark!”

A snicker. “’Round up all suspicious characters!’ Well, that’s everybody we know.”

Read more... )
dianeduane: (New DD Av)
For those of you who don't know what this is all about: It's a challenge to draw or write a piece of fanfic about your One True Pairing every day for thirty days. It started with this August 2012 posting at "One Hundred Suns" and started spreading around Tumblr after that. (You can use this link to see what other people are doing with the concept: at least the ones who've remembered to tag their posts.)


My interest was casually piqued by this some time back. But not until the other morning, when I saw what the very talented Reapersun had just done with Day 1 -- raising the bar quite high -- did I realize this might be something I wanted to do too. So: I'm in it for the 30 days. And here are the links to them:


1: Holding hands | 2: Cuddling somewhere | 3: Gaming / watching a movie | 4: On a date | 5: Kissing | 6: Wearing each other's clothes | 7: Cosplaying | 8: Shopping | 9: Hanging out with friends | 10: With animal ears | 11: Wearing kigurumis | 12: Making out | 13: Eating ice cream | 14: Genderswapped | 15: In a different clothing style | 16: Doing morning rituals | 17: Spooning | 18: Doing something together |  19: In formal wear | 20: Dancing | 21: Cooking / baking | 22: In battle, side by side | 23: Arguing | 24: Making up afterwards | 25: Gazing into each other's eyes | 26: Getting married | 27: On one of their birthdays | 28: Doing something ridiculous | 29: Doing something sweet | 30: Doing something hot

Read more... )
dianeduane: (Default)

The Crossings Intercontinual Worldgating Facility in the evening can seem like a relatively calm place for those who don’t know the venue as well as Nita and Kit do. After sunset the elective daytime ceiling removes itself from over the worldgating facility’s vast shining interior and lets in the huge night sky of Rirhath B’s native cluster: the multicolor swell-and-shrink of a couple of hundred short-term variable stars, slow and placid as breathing. It could even seem romantic, if the place wasn’t exactly as busy in the evenings as it is when the ferocious system primary is up. The transit of three galaxies goes on untroubled through the place as it has for thousands of years now, and business goes on there as well, just as cutthroat as always.

It has a tendency to go on out in the open, as the Crossings management has (after some of the ructions of more recent years) taken a liking to the concept that there’s no harm in most of the place’s business being carried out in plain view. The ability to hear what’s happening, of course, is strictly controlled by the management, who determine what translation modules are operating at any given time and in any specific area, and whether sound waves (in species that use sound to communicate) are allowed to travel past the area where business is being discussed. The privacy of other modes of communication — light, gesture, various forms of expanded sensoria, thought — are managed by other means, either science or wizardry, depending on what makes most sense. In fact, wizardry is much more in evidence than it used to be, since the Stationmaster’s position passed to a wizard in the wake of the events of the Pullulus War.

This is the case on this particular evening, when a rather fraught business meeting is taking place out in the middle of the Crossings’ main concourse, hard by the Master’s office. That office has stood for nearly a thousand years on the same spot where the first worldgate spontaneously popped open in a muddy riverside cave. Of course now acres of polished white floor stretch around that spot on all sides—the main concourse area is about the same size as London inside the M25—and the office itself is an openwork construction of blue and silver chrome and self-programming hybrid management consoles. On-demand meeting spaces are erected around the Stationmaster’s office at need, and right now one of these, with a language-specific cone of silence erected over and around it, is mostly filled with an elliptical, centerless forcefield table.

On either side of the center of the ellipse stand a number of chairs shaped like unusually longlegged camel saddles: these are occupied by six two-meter-tall creatures who look like annoyed blue preying mantises. These are flailing their triple-jointed arms around and shrieking in a manner reminiscent of what rabid peacocks would sound like if peacocks could be rabid. At the far end of the table is a young Rirhait male with his shining, manylegged magenta self draped over a rack unusually plain and utilitarian for a being of his rank and seniority (especially the Master of this facility). At the other end of the table, inside a spell-ellipse whose broad arcs and inner detail are faintly visible through the topmost layer of the polished white floor, are two hominid wizards, one male, one female, both past latency age but not so far so as to be less than extremely dangerous should the mood move them. If the shrieking blue aliens keep looking at one of them and shrieking more loudly than even these circumstances require, this will be the reason. One of these two wizards has reason to bear them a grudge, and the five-minute discussion they’ve just had with her is making them nervous...

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dianeduane: (Default)

Two teenagers are sitting together on a big dusty grey rock: a boy and a girl, admiring the view. Mostly.

The rock is on the Moon. It’s on the peak-ridge of one of the Lunar Carpathians, which is a young and jagged mountain range rearing up over the pale rolling highlands that run down toward the Apollo 12 and 14 landing sites. The rock is the topmost fragment of a boulder the size of a suburban house, cracked off the body of the mountain’s uppermost peak a millennium ago in the wake of an impact by a fragment of an “earthgrazer”-class asteroid. Bits and pieces of the old peak lie strewn all down the mountainside, mingled with older, smaller rubble and assorted displaced regolith. But the girl and the boy are long familiar with this old vista, and pay it no mind at the moment.

They’re mostly looking at the Earth right now, not least because this is one of the best times of the month to view it from up here. Since the Moon as seen from Earth is presently a crescent barely three days old, the Earth is just a shade shy of its full—a hot blue-blazing cabochon jewel in the night, burning green and dun and desert-pale, glowing white with weather. The light of it, this close to perihelion, blots out the view of the nearby stars and shines ten times brighter than a full Moon would anywhere on Earth. That blue-green light, so intense in hue as to seem warm, is washing across the lunar surface and drowning everything in an almost-undersea luminescence. “The old Moon in the new Moon’s arms”, they call it at home: Earthshine. Wizards, of course, have other names for it. But these two aren’t considering those at the moment.

“Things are changing…” the girl says.

The boy nods. “Well, we’ve known for a while it was coming.” He raises his eyebrows in annoyance at the Shuffle, shakes it.

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dianeduane: (Default)

Before Peter's Mum died some years back -- before she went into the hospital -- she and I were sitting around together in her little back-of-the-house sitting room, and she was complaining to me about the state of her attic. "It's full of linen," she said.

It took some explanation of Morwood family history to discover exactly what this meant. Peter's Dad worked for Lindustries, the biggest of the Northern Irish linen companies, as their chief accountant: and when he married Peter's Mum, a lot of people chose to give them Irish linen as wedding gifts. (This strikes me as a little Coals-To-Newcastle-ish, but doubtless they had their reasons.)

What I didn't have at the time was any real sense of how much linen this implied. They were given such heaps of the stuff, in every possible permutation, that P's Mum had not only never gotten around to using it all, but in many cases the stuff had never even been removed from its original gift packaging. There it all sat piled up in the attic -- having been up there for the guts of fifty years -- and Peter's Mum just kind of shrugged at me and said, "Do you want some?"

Do I want some? I remember thinking. Are you off your head, woman? Do I want vintage Irish linen better than anything in the shops these days? (For I'd long since got used to Peter's muttering under his breath as we visited quite high-end department stores in Dublin and he saw what was on sale there as Best Quality Irish Linen, at truly hysterical prices. "My Dad would never have let this crap out of the factory," was the kindest of the things he'd usually say, and then there would be endless discussion of thread counts and ... well, never mind, this is You Get Used To This When You're Married territory.)

At any rate, I agreed, oh with a modest (and probably completely unconvincing) show of reluctance, to take some of it off Peter's Mum's hands. And what she gave us was the cream of what was stored up in the Attic of Wonders. Tablecloths with a weave so tight you could use them to carry water in. Wonderful bed linens. Much other similar stuff. Then, alas, Mum left us, and the house was emptied preparatory to being sold: and Peter's sister said, "Here..." and gave us all the rest of the linen.

She wasn't kidding about the state of the attic... really. Because for the last four years, all that linen has been in our house... and it's just too much.  We don't have enough places in our little cottage to even start using it all. And even storing the stuff is a chore. Among other things,  I want my closet back. So I've opened up a linen store on Ebay, so I can make at least an attempt to get it all out of here. This is just a heads-up for those who might be interested.

A definition: when I say "linens" I mostly don't mean bed linens (though there are some of those, and believe me, they're choice: I'd keep them if we had beds of the right size, but we don't -- the linens are all standard doubles or singles, and our bed's a king). The majority of what we're looking to pass on to those who want them are solid-linen and linen/lace runners, bureau covers, table linens, placemats, tablecloths, napkins, handkerchieves... that kind of thing. There are also bolster covers, doilies, and some pieces that might have been samplers -- because I genuinely can't figure out what else they might have been. All of these are of the best quality vintage Irish linen, heavy and solid (where it's not meant to be delicate), much of it beautifully hand-embroidered, any lace all hand-tatted, everything dating back to circa 1950, all never used, and all in excellent shape.

The only caveat: The vast majority of these pieces were unpackaged, and some have over fifty years of storage picked up wrinkles, and the occasional smudge or age spot. I emphasize the "occasional" -- we wouldn't let anything out of the house that was at all seriously damaged. The answer to these problems -- at least the one Peter's Mum gave me -- was simply to wash the linen on the highest possible heat until the spot or smudge came out: which it always would. (Actually, her language was rather more robust. "Boil it," she said.) In my experience this strategy has always worked. If anyone buying finds they don't like the condition of a given item when they get their hands on it, naturally we'll refund the purchase price. I just wanted to be clear about the condition of these pieces right up front. (ETA: There should also be another category here: Perfectly Grimy. These are pieces that are undamaged and in most places are so perfectly untouched that you can still see the sheen of the sizing on the fabric, and in other places are just spotty or grimed. I know they'll be just fine after they've been put through a hot wash, but I can't bring myself to put them up on Ebay: I suppose I'll just offer those privately either here or on the Tumblr.)

Anyway, the store is now up, and we'll start putting things into it over the weekend. So consider this an early warning.  :) (ETA for the moment: the first of the pieces has just been Ebay-listed so we can start Peter's seller account going: it's over here -- a centerpiece cloth.)

Thanks, all!

dianeduane: (Default)

Oh, cousins, you could NOT make this up. The theory espoused by this (almost certainly) Thin-Lipped White Guy With A Two-Dollar Haircut is that Romney lost because he didn’t get the Slut Vote.

Women make up about 54% of the electorate.  It is very hard to win without winning that segment, or at least losing it only narrowly while winning men big. While the right usually wins married women, the fact is that married women constitute an ever-decreasing share of the female population.  Women want to delay marriage as long as possible so they can “have it all,” and usually “have it all” means “have as much hot alpha sex as possible without any consequences.”  And thus, less married women and more sluts (not that these two groups are mutually exclusive, per se)

This doesn’t begin to hint at what else is in this guy’s (unsuccessfully privatized) G+ posting. If you’re a person of color or a spoiled suburban brat-princess, he’s got you figured out too. Just go read it. 

(eyeroll) I. can’t. …EVEN.

dianeduane: (Default)

Normally I try to keep  food postings more or less over at EuropeanCuisines.com, the part of the household where most of the cooking craziness in the household manifests itself. But I thought I'd copy it over at this side of things to make it available for those who might not normally visit cooking sites.

Those of us who routinely spend Thanksgiving off the North American continent but still try to lay out a traditional Thanksgiving dinner probably all have our own stories about being unable to get some vital missing ingredient, and then being forced to make do with something less than optimal...

One item that sometimes turns out to be very hard to lay hands on is pumpkin.

The difficulty usually surrounds canned pumpkin rather than the fresh kind... but even that can be a problem when it's out of season. Markets in France and Germany for example, routinely feature some of the best fresh pumpkin to be found anywhere on the planet -- firm, meaty, relatively seedless, and (most important) flavorful. But then these are varieties that have been bred for the table for centuries -- not the North American varieties that are mostly bred for size so that they'll make good jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. Problem is, once they're out of season, you won't see them again until the next year... and when you go looking for canned pumpkin, the response is usually bemusement. You won't find it in most parts of Europe. If you can track it down, it's usually in some overpriced store that caters to foreigners and is going to make you pay five or ten times more for it than you would have in a supermarket in the States or Canada.

At such times -- if you're not willing to buckle under -- you learn to improvise. This recipe is one of EuroCuisineLady's takes on the theme. It's an adaptation of the basic pumpkin pie recipe in The Joy of Cooking. This pie -- using butternut squash and yams to replace the pumpkin -- produces a rich, dense pie that compares very favorably with the traditional pumpkin version. It's not going to taste exactly like it... but for the moment it'll do.

(For a variant on this theme using only sweet potatoes, check out our Virtually Pumpkin Pie.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe of pie dough for a single crust pie (see below)
  • 2 butternut squash or 1 butternut squash and 2 yams (about 10 ounces each), to make about 2 1/2 - 3 cups of cooked squash/yam mixture
  • 1 1/2 cups undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (double cream is ideal, but standard whipping cream will do)
  • 1/4 cup molasses or 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5 slightly beaten eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • Optional flavorings /inclusions:
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla, or 2 tablespoons brandy or rum, or 1 teaspoon rum flavoring
    • 1 1-inch bud long pepper, ground fine (If you can get long pepper, this addition is strongly recommended: it really makes a difference to the finished pie. It's terrific in real pumpkin pie, too.)
    • 3/4 cup black walnut meats, chopped/broken

Method: Prepare the pie crust (see below for recipe).

Preheat oven to 325° F. Wash the butternut squash(es) and split the long way: remove the seeds and strings. If using yams, peel them. Place the squashes or squash and yams cut side down on a baking sheet with a little water in it, and bake for one hour.

When finished, scoop the baked pulp out of the butternut squash into a bowl: if using yams, split them and do the same. Beat, puree or whip the squash or squash-and-yam mixture until very smooth.

If using molasses, warm it slightly in the microwave or put its jar in warm water to make it a little easier to handle. In a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk. Then add the molasses or brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, spices, and cream, beating very well until blended. Add the squash or squash/yam mixture and beat well again. Add the vanilla, rum or brandy, or rum flavoring, and (if you're using them) the walnut meats.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Preheat the oven to 425° F. When the oven is ready, bake the pie at 425° F for fifteen minutes, then reduce to 350° F and bake for another 45-50 minutes. Test with a knife blade: the pie is ready when the knife comes out clean (or very nearly so).

Pie crust recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pastry shortening or butter
  • 3 tablespoons water (slightly more if required)

Method: Sift the flour before measuring it into a roomy bowl or food processor. Add the salt and mix well: then work in the shortening by cutting it in with two knives, using a pastry blender, or pulsing the mixture in a food processor with the plastic blade, until the grain in the mixture is pea-sized. Stir or pulse the water in one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together when you gather it into a ball. (If using a food processor, pulse until the dough mixture just gathers to make a ball.)

Allow to rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator: then roll out and use to line a 9-inch pie pan. Fill as described above and bake.

May 2017

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