Birding & Today

The other day I watched a movie involving a family that had an eagle working with it as a tradition.  The lifestyle was ‘Asiatic steppes’.   This struck a chord with me, because I periodically had ‘falconing fantasies’ or images during my youth.  I may have mentioned this a couple of days ago – will I end up learning the art after all, while volunteering when I’m over 60?  Mmmm…well, if I did, all I can do is apologize for repeating myself and just mention that it is showing up again.

Today was another quiet day in the village.  I spent an hour or so outdoors, nothing heavy, just a bit of walking in the fresh air.  I went out of my way to learn some German: that means I found ways to take some in, in a structured way.

During the past several years now, only my son and I live where I live.  There have been some visitors now and then but however much I miss the company – which is a lot, I do like that no one gets angry with me for “leaving my toys out” and I usually get to watch what I want and I know who to blame if something isn’t done.

I believe I have met one person in real life who has some type of ‘birding skill’ but in the days when pigeons were the best high speed first class mail service going, a lot of people had more bird handling skills.

 

Artists & self as artist

Artists….there are many types of art, and creativity abounds far beyond the ordinary categories of art.  Music, theatre, dance, music, drawing, painting, sculpture, literature, pop culture, animation, comic books, dancers…Even so, for some reason when I think  artist the first perception that springs to mind is painter, but usually I think that while listening to musicians – normally a group: some who composed the music, at least one who wrote lyrics [poetry designed to be sung] and then the playing of it….that made them somehow at the forefront but still being conceptualized as if they were the background.  Similarly, like so many people, I read every day….and spent years reading fiction and watching some theatre people nearly every day….I have written poems and short stories and entire novels …but when I think ‘artist’ I think ‘painters’.

There are some paintings decorating my home that I made myself….9 downstairs, plus 2 very small multi-media sculptures but I’m a novelist.  If I were really a painter, someone would have spent more than $30 on one of my paintings and maybe while I’m alive someone will spend $10,000 on one – and pay me a lump sum, and after I’m dead maybe they will get sold at a garage sale for a few bucks or will turn into heirlooms or will make my son or great grandchildren ….if not rich, at least, ahead of inflation….I can’t even tell.  Last year I read about a truck driver who bought a Jackson Pollack for $5 and didn’t feel it was any good but has learned that there are people who would spend like $12 Mil on it, and who can afford to.  So, she’s hanging onto it, even though she honestly feels it was only worth the $5.  That’s one reason why I don’t know with my own art.  That’s how much it might only depend on who you ask, and who gets to see it.  I mean, he could have had a 70% in some art classes for a $12 Million dollar painting.  Seriously.  Is it really that great?  Does it actually suck that badly?  Is the one able and willing to spend big bucks being scammed or are those who do not value it idiots?  I think maybe it just depends – which sounds like a cop out but isn’t.

Anyways, that’s painting.

Living as a foreigner – update

As most of you already know, I am living in Germany as a foreigner “for a few years” because my son is not foreign to this nation or to the USA and I wanted him to get to know Germany as well as the USA during his youth but be able to have “Mommy and Daddy” – as well as any step-parents (as what happened made it so that he had some) available throughout his youth.

There is no doubt about it: I do know Germany better now than I did when we first arrived over 2 years ago now.  It is not really ‘how I had thought’ which both surprises me and doesn’t….we had both visited before but not stayed for so long.

This is also the first time I have spent more than a few weeks in the countryside since I was age 5 to …well…put it this way, the son had never lived in the countryside before we moved here…and I had not lived in a place like this – ever.  I guess this is normal for Europe, but it is really a densely populated village with farm animals around many a corner.  It is not like American rural – there are loads of people here…4000 or so within about 2 square miles!…but Mavis the dairy cow lives right next to the Schmidt family…and the Weiters have like 30 chickens running around in their front yard…and a 20something woman who lives as a goat herd here in the neighborhood even sports a goat tattoo on one of her shins.  If it isn’t that, then it’s the horses.  Farm animals and brick houses….

First Frost – and the 40s

Today we had frost in the morning for the 2nd time.  Seeing as it is Autumn this should come as no surprise.  Although my offspring is now a ‘senior teen’ I am simultaneously dealing with being in my…well, let’s face it, my mid-40s and the middle of my life.   Like millions of others…when I go out – even if it is just to a shop, I notice that my own situation is not the only case of some middle aged woman with her teen offspring.  Child is not a stretch of the word but is one that it is becoming clear, it will be outgrown.

When I got into this situation, it was clear that I could follow through and be the mother of a young but full grown entity before age 50.  While 50 seems impossibly mature and almost old from one’s early or mid-20s, if the lifespan runs to age 80 and beyond, then…well, there will still be 15 years left before “retirement age” arrives.  Given the reality of my life, I doubt I will be retiring at 65 years, but it is comforting to know: there will be more life without having to look after the children even though I will have spent quite a while looking after the kid/s.  Unlike many people I have only 1.  The idea is to do a lot of stuff other than being a mother during this lifetime while being able to be a dedicated caring available mother instead of a constantly busy and preoccupied mother because of trying to do everything else while the baby needs me.  Like so many women, it is another effort at ‘having it all’ but like with having one’s cake and eating it to, there are limited ways to do it.  I have worked while my son has been growing up but not like I might have had I not had a child.  I mean, seriously, I have hardly worked at all compared to those of my peers who have been steadily working full time for over 20 years in a row now…but compared to those who have not worked at all, I have worked a lot: but I have more like 12 to 15 years of full time experience over 25 years instead of 25.

Well, life goes on for everyone who hasn’t died today.

Free Excerpt from an SF novel about which I hope you all generate plenty of rumors!

Now and then, readers may have heard of Gezka FaucMerz, Emperor Rejkyavik’s soldier and young woman.  You may have heard of Mr. Kiel Bronson, a mullato man from planet Earth in his early 50s and feeling more like he’s in the prime of his life than all washed up…Life expectency well beyone 80 years unless he gets himself killed – which is possible given the way he lives.

Below is an excerpt from the reality they coexist in and come from.

 

Introduction

Humanity did expand to explore the Cosmos, but it took a long time and like so much in life, it was need driven.  Eventually, there were human colonies out to 35LY from Sol.  As one might expect, in many ways, life had become so changed that we ourselves would not recognize it and yet, since ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’, it was still just life.

The universe remained centered around the birthplace of humanity.  First and foremost of all, was that this was how Earth was now known: as the birthplace of humanity.  In fact, this precise description was used to market tourism to Earth from many reaches of the inhabited universe.

The human dominated Cosmos developed a loosely configured triplicity of regions based upon how close they were to the Sun.  There were reasons for it, most of which were economic, as one would expect.  The first zone included all habitable stellar systems and the space between within 20LY of Sol.  This vast expanse was commonly known as ‘the Interior’.

The next main region was called The Rim.  It covered the universe from just over 20LY from Sol out to 25LY out.  Since it was space, all directions were covered.  This region was rather sparse compared to the other two.  There were fewer planets, and more space stations.  The region was almost entirely dependent upon trade for its existence.  Being excellent in all the areas in which it did develop, the Rim mysteriously flourished.

Beyond the Rim was the final region of human dominated interstellar space.  It had been named simply and straightforwardly as The Exterior.  There were more star systems out there than there were in The Interior but humanity had a very hard time getting a good foot hold out there.  In the end, humans learned to flourish there as well but by the time they did they had drawn different conclusions than The Interiors.

The three regions proved to be something cultural as well as physical.  The answers to life problems in the Exterior involved genetic manipulation, and learning to keep out of the way of the sentient Etokk – who were a terribly powerful and fortunately rather benevolent species.  Little was known about them other than that they were more powerful than humans, no matter how much humans wished that weren’t true.

The Rim was made by diplomacy and duplicity, using anything that would work to keep the society functioning.  There was more black market activity in the Rim by proportion but not by quantity, than in either the Exterior or Interior.  The rules were less clear there, when compared to the bigger cultures on either ‘side’ of it.  The loyalties came across to the Interior and Exterior Federations as “divided” at best.  The reasons were valid: part of the Rim survived thanks to business and dealings with the Exterior, while other parts derived their success from the Interior.  Of course there were also places that relied on the two in combination.  Policies and attitudes reflected the truth.

The Interior prided itself on including the original point of human conception and having the greatest history of humankind.  If the entire region could have a personality, arrogant would be one of the ways of describing it.  It felt superior to the others, regardless of whether or not it was.  The people of the Interior tended to feel like they were ‘the real humans’ and that those out in the Rim and the Exterior were more like some kind of Circus freak descendants.  There was a common ancestor – but it didn’t mean much.  The government of the Interior had Federated first and was able to create and to maintain a clear and strong set of policies able to extend across distances which would have been outrageous to Earthlings of the pre-colonial eras.  United by knowledge and culture, the Interior had retained its power over the Millenia.

Both the Rim and the Exterior had Federated as a reaction to the Interior and nothing more.  In the Rim, the trouble was that they were not naturally centralized enough to really function like a united political group but somehow they got it together enough to make sure they could protect themselves from military and political attacks from either the Interior of Exterior.  In truth, the Rim had little to no military power but somehow maintained autonomy despite this.

The Exterior Federated mainly to protect itself from laws that would have adversely affected its culture.  This was mainly a policy attack from the Interior against genetic manipulation of humans and animals.  The Exterior hated the Interior for genetic engineering was the very foundation of their success – even though they were well aware that because of that the humans of the Interior often viewed them as inferior.  The people of the Exterior believed the very opposite was the truth.  They were far more advanced than the ‘natural man’ of the Interior.  The Interior had ‘old humans’ with back dated attitudes and undeveloped genetic potential.  The humans of the Exterior felt the difference between themselves and Interior humans was like the difference between 20th century large, sweet agri-business strawberries and the tiny little edible wild strawberries that people can find in some lawns in the Northern hemisphere of Earth.  There is little argument that both are edible, and the engineered ones are obviously better.

 

By population, the Interior was by far the greatest, boasting a human population of 10 trillion across star systems.  This was the real drive behind colonization, and it was very successful.  The Rim held 1 billion human lives in its own expanses.  Although viewed as the smallest region, but the standards of those who lived when there were only humans on the Earth – the Rim was yet another bastion for human life scattered throughout the stars.  The Exterior politics influenced the answer to this same question.  They claimed they had 10 billion humans.  The Interior disagreed based upon things that the Exteriors felt perfectly displayed Interior hypocrisy. The Interior hated genetic manipulation of humans so much that they routinely acknowledged only 1 million human residents of the entire Exterior colonized space.  Each of the million had a recorded lineage to the Interior.  The economic portion of the Interior, which conducted business with the Exterior Federation estimated an interplanetary population of the Exterior as being at least 1 trillion and possibly as high as 3 trillion.  The Exterior did not supply the kind of answer the Interior wanted.  They reported political bodies and published numbers of recorded citizens.  The reason this upset the Interior is that there were known to be large groups of people who were not citizens.  In general, the few Exteriors who deigned to engage in dialogue on such matters did not see why the same Federation that would only recognize 1 million humans would get upset about which members of their society were citizens and which were not.  The economists knew that all of the military personnel and many other special subtypes were not considered to be citizens of the governments they served.  That being noted: goods would still be bought for these hordes.  This is the reason for the confusion about the number of humans inhabiting Exterior Federation space.

At the time that the story opens, the Exterior so-called Federation was filled with warfare.  There were Empires and many traits of a feudal society.  There was no solidarity such the word Federation would seem to imply until or unless the Interior Federation attempted to interfere and then suddenly there was unity.

Silly as it is, the main characters will have to serve as icons for their brand of humanity as well as standing for themselves as individuals.  That’s much of the fun of this story, where there is any fun: the clash of cultures as 2 people meet and discover.

The good news and the bad news is that the main characters are not lovers, even though they are members of the opposite sex.  One is rather young and the other is in the full bloom of middle age.  The younger one is the woman: Gezka FaucMerz.  The older one is Kiel Bronson.  Both speak during the novel, but the point of view changes depending on the needs of the story.  The rest of the bad news is that neither of the main protagonists are cute or fluffy.  Kiel has just been released from a prison sentence which he served because he was actually guilty.  Gezka, well, lets start the story with her.

Chapter 1

 

Gezka FaucMerz started her day as she had many others.  They were at war.  She rose and was able to wash and dress, thanks to her combat duty station.  She was alone as always except that she was never alone.   This was probably normal, she had guessed a long time ago.  There was a general faint ache to her sculpted warrior body.  She was grateful to have been able to rest a full shift.

The others were all also military personnel.  That was also perfectly normal.  When Gezka woke up that day she still thought it would always be that way.  It did not take more than 15 minutes for her to be washed and dressed, and to have reloaded her weapons and made her way to breakfast and then to check for the day’s missions.

Emperor Reykjavik wanted her to help him to grow his Empire.  This morning that meant to make close combat on the ground in a rocky region of a planet she wasn’t sure she had even heard of prior to landing there.  She was released with the rest of her battalion, from a ship launched from orbit from one of the Naav’s battleships.  They had engaged the enemy in less than 1000 Meters from disembarking.  Fighting without the element of surprise was a drag.  They fought like Hell all morning but had made it through the opposition in time for a midday meal.  They joked as best they could – they couldn’t help but notice that some of their comrades from breakfast had died during the morning battle.  It was pretty normal for people like them – they had been at war for years.  Most of them were old enough to have adjusted to it.  It wasn’t like when they were teenagers and got sent to war for the first time.  Gezka was glad that most of her colleagues had been going to war with her for at least 5 years.  There really weren’t any weaklings left.

Gezka wasn’t the only woman on the battlefield that day, but they were in the minority.  There was a joke about that going around as well.  Her parents were both Generals, so the joke was that the only reason she was a girl doing that combat duty was to determine whether or not she could become a General herself and the mother of Generals.  She told them it was a good thing they had all had their hormones fixed and left it at that.  Soldiers of the Naav don’t breed until they get their papers.  Her parents had not selected each other; the geneticists had chosen them for each other, and Gezka viewed that as perfectly normal.

The Emperor wanted Gezka to fight all afternoon that day as well and to get the local area under his dominion.  Gezka wasn’t designated to stick the Emperor’s flag into the dirt, although she noted that at this location they would do better to blast out the rock to be able to put in a flag.

Gezka fought all afternoon just as her Emperor wanted her to do.  She was very focused in the moment the whole time, and she had long accepted it as a lifestyle.  This time, the warfare was harder – the enemy knew the terrain better and made the most of it.  This meant that they did not break for a late meal.  In fact, the planet turned away from its greatest source of light and the fighting continued.

So far, since they arrived, most of the fighting was firearms and some explosives but as the battle wore into the dark time she began to consider whether they could use other formations and close with the enemy.  The reason she disliked missle weapons was that it wasn’t visceral and it was too easy to miss.  Suppression fire left a lot to be desired; she preferred to just get the fighting done with, but she was a junior officer for a reason.

At long last, Gezka got a chance to confer with her superior officer – she wanted to ask about forcing hand to hand combat and close gun fighting and wanted permission and then advice on the best way to achieve it.  Instead, Gezka jogged through the smoky, dusty dark night only to arrive just after her commanding officer was killed by combined ‘mortar’ then laser and bullet barrage.  Gezka entered what remained of the field command point and did not leave until she had grabbed the maps and called in to confirm to other officers that the Captain was dead.

She was informed, as she ran for cover in the night, plotting revenge that must not be revenge but simple tactics to move the war forward, that she had just earned a field promotion.  She managed to get medical staff to the dead officers and to gather together a couple of the other junior officers to make the new plan.

Writers & Authors: what did you think?

This one is aimed at writers and readers, but could be useful to anyone dealing with ‘assumptions’.   When I was a girl I loved to read.  It was never the only activity I liked but as I didn’t have lots of money to spend on lessons…I enjoyed it and learned that it helped me to be content even when none of my siblings or mother were willing to play with me.

Over the years, some assumptions developed.  One was that I tended to think that most writers made good money.   I tended to believe that the novels I found on the shelves represented the majority of high quality works that had been written.

Later in life, as most of the more professionally advanced authors who I met either in person or on Facebook or Twitter clarified: that isn’t really how it works.  A year or two ago I finally broke down and did Internet research.  I learned that more than half of professional writers are not novelists and that many writers have day jobs.  There are a good 50,000 professional writers in the USA who earn a middle class income writing as ‘in house staff writers’ – these are mainly journalists.

I still remember when I was younger but not too young: when I saw a published novel I assumed that the effort to create the piece had supported the author in at least a lower middle class way for at least one year.  Sadly, not even that is true in many cases.  Now, I have heard the saying 20% of the books get 80% of the money.  Wow.

For those who said, “Prepare for a day job” the truth is that I did a bunch of other work and pursued my higher education in a way that was intended to make sure that I would have at least plenty of access to real good day jobs.  I also tried marriage.  At this point I feel a lot like I was backed into the corner of needing to make the writing become a living all of a sudden and in ways not even I had planned – given what I was told…

Hm, nowadays, I wonder about the next project and figuring how to make it really work.  I don’t want to be a fat “well fed” writer, so much as a writer who can afford to buy a house and have a decent car and pay for her son’s university and all that…and still honestly like myself and what I do for work.  Color me “just like everyone else” on that front.

Nothing – is it emptiness?

Pretty much everyone has happy days, blah days and sad or mad days.  Some days have all those emotions and more, even for good reason.  In that respect, I am just like everyone else.

Sooner or later, most people experience forms of emptiness and of nothingness.  There are a variety of kinds of emptiness; they range from the sublime and philosophical to the carnal and to emotional voids.

These typically feel dangerous to whoever is experiencing them, and in some cases they even really are.  Some types of emptiness go hand in hand with sorrow or emotional shut down.  The question that emerges is: does it need to be healed?  If so, can it be and if not, then what is it and how should it be handled?

Even so, there are other occasions when emptiness and even uneasy perceptions of nothingness prove to be very healthy and are a stepping stone to new found happiness in life.  In fact, most of the time, it just signals some type of space – between interactions, or between jobs or a sense of loss associated with a change in stage of life and can happen with a marriage, or a birth as well as with losses such as death or divorce or job loss.

To lighten up: check out Uranian Fiction