Category Archives: Susan Kaye

Well, I’ll be

DIME

Thank you, Matthias Shapiro, displayed under CC license,

This weekend the grandkids were with us. Actually they came over on Thursday and left about two on Sunday afternoon. If I had a dime for every, “No-o-o-o-o,” or “M-i-i-i-n-n-n-e,” that came from our two-year-old grandson, and the accompanying “Sto-o-o-p it” from his eight-year-old sister, I’d now be on a sandy beach with a cold drink in my hand. (No umbrellas, I don’t care for sticks in my drinks.)

 

VERAThe Super Bowl was played this past Sunday. Again I didn’t watch. And, again, by Tuesday I don’t remember who won. My biggest upset on Sunday was not having a new episode of “Vera,” (a cop show, nothing to do with Wang or Bradley),  to watch on Brit Box. This is why we stream at our house. When networks are so callas as to preempt shows, I can get my fix by watching old episodes while waiting for the new.

If you’ve never seen Vera, it’s typical cop-with-probs show. But, for a writer, it’s a great lesson in character evolution. In the first season, Vera is pretty terrible with people. Murderers, muggers, and victims are all treated the same. Children are anathema. We are now in series eight and Vera has grown! She is now able to put her hand on a weeping victim’s shoulder without gagging. The gesture is awkward as hell, but I suppose when your mother dies when you’re young and your widower father is a sullen poacher/taxidermist, who lives at the crossroads of No and Where, there is little need for deportment.

If you have access to Hulu you can see the first three seasons.  Acorn TV (streaming) has seasons 1-7, and Brit Box (streaming) is the only place to get season eight.

And so, I wait.

 

 

 

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A Little Contagion for Christmas

If you’ve read the stories in A Very Austen Christmas anthology (and if you haven’t, why NOT?) an accidental theme in three of them was illness and its ability to bring people together. Not to be outdone, I present to you a story I wrote years ago with the same theme: The Little Particulars of the Circumstance

In the course of the original Persuasion, Frederick Wentworth goes to Uppercross Cottage looking for Louisa and Henrietta.  Instead, he finds himself alone with Anne Elliot. He then rescues her from the naughty antics of little Walter. In this version, the apothecary, Mr Robinson, has come to check on the injured little Charles and in a twist of the story, declares a quarantine! When Anne and Frederick are forced to stay alone together in one room, with a sick child to care for, will they overcome their pride and anger? This story combines a little bit of “Outbreak!” with a lot of “It Happened One Night.” Happy ending included at no charge.

 

One morning, very soon after the dinner at the Musgroves, at which Anne had not been present, Captain Wentworth walked into the drawing room at the Cottage, where were herself, Mr Robinson the apothecary, and the little invalid, Charles, who was lying on the sofa.

The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot deprived of his manners of the usual composure: he started, and could only say, “I beg your pardon. I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here—Mrs Musgrove told me I could find them here,” before he walked to the window to recollect himself and feel how he ought to behave.

“They are upstairs with my sister—they will be down in a few moments, I dare say.”

He continued at the window; and after calmly and politely saying, “I hope the little boy is better,” was silent.

Anne turned back to Mr Robinson, the apothecary, who had come to check on the young patient.

The man glanced towards Captain Wentworth. “As I was saying before the interruption, the boy’s spine is undamaged and he is doing well enough in his recovery. I am heartened that my instructions have been carried out with such scrupulous attention.” He removed his glasses and put them in his breast pocket. “It is not always the case when I make recommendations here.”

Anne suspected her sister’s delicate health made it necessary for Mr Robinson to make rather a lot of calls to the Cottage, but she doubted Mary did more than enjoy the notice, with no intentions of following his orders. Mr Robinson once again looked over his little patient. He frowned and pulled up the boy’s shirt. “How long did you say this rash had been evident?”

She came closer. “As I said before, I saw it last evening. It is more acute this morning. I think it may be—”

Robinson grunted and sighed heavily. He put on his glasses and began to carelessly prod and turn the boy this way and that. Anne was appalled that he wholly disregarded Charles’s sharp cries. He touched a place or two, and then looked over the tops of the spectacles. “You say it is more intense?” Anne nodded. “Was this rash on him the other day?”

“No. I am not sure when it appeared, but I saw it yesterday evening, around seven.”

He opened a small notebook and flipped through a few pages. He sighed again. “There is a pocket of fever in Crewkherne. It became evident just a week or so ago. There is fear it is smallpox.”

“The place looked positively asleep when I came through.” Wentworth glanced towards the others.

Robinson turned and looked over his glasses at the Captain. “Come through Crewkherne did you? When did you arrive?”
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It Could Get Cra-zy Up There

One of my favorite website is COLOSSAL. It’s about art, design, and just a lot of interesting stuff. I ran across something that should be of interest to many of us aging book types:

stairs-1

In Japan the houses are small, and the country being prone to earthquakes makes this slanted, climbable bookcase the center of the home. Even in a good shake, the books stay put.

I see problems.

I’m going to be 60 this year and I really don’t want to climb to the top of the bookcase to fetch my favorite copy of Little Women my husband gave me decades ago. My question would be, is Louisa May worth the risk of a broken hip? Put it on a lower shelf you say. That’s a great idea, but if you buy enough books, eventually, you’ll have to get off the ground.

Have someone else do it. Good, good. The problem is that someone else would wind up being a grandchild. Those of you who have had a climber know that this is a bad, bad example to set for them. We have a grandson who could go either way at this point so I know I don’t want to try and explain to him how shinnying up the bookcase to get Grandma’s pretty blue book is different from shinnying up there and swinging from shelf to shelf like a monkey. Or better yet, playing tag on the shelves with a like-minded friend.

Here’s another picture of the house with this bookcase:

stairs-6

The bookcase is not the only recreational feature of this house. I am guessing the lower room is the kitchen and the seating upstairs is for contemplation and work-from-home space. All I see is Olympic-level pancake flipping from the lower to the upper level. Or, shaking the soda bottle hard enough to see if you can hit a glass on the upper counter.

I’m sure there are a thousand and one more activities that could be devised with this configuration.

Maybe my family is out of whack, but I only see built-in challenges to kids and teens, and lots of visits to the emergency room with these features.

In reality, this is an interesting take on how architecture can evolve to meet challenges of the environment. Read about it HERE.

The Mighty Thor and His Hammer

Several years ago my husband and I decided to dip a collective toe into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. MCU for short. I think we started with one of the Ironman movies and moved on from there. At this point, my husband is a Thor man and I am firmly Team Captain America. Yes, a mixed marriage for sure. But, we co-exist.

This being the case, Thor: Ragnorok was a necessary part of the weekend.

No spoilers.

If you like the Marvel franchise, you’ll see it. If you haven’t taken a dip yet, and chose this particular spot to wade in, you may be confused. Either way,  just like its poster the movie is garish, lots of loud rock n roll, a fun Gene Wilder Willie Wonka reference, and several shots of Chris Hemsworth’s unclad torso. (If you’re into that sort of thing.)

Oh, and if you are a fan of the Asgardians. you will get to see a fully-clad Heimdall, (Idris Elba),  FINALLY getting to do more than guard the Bifrost Bridge.

It was fun and did move the story along. The next installment will be Black Panther, coming in early 2018, with the BIGGIE being The Avengers: Infinity Wars in May. The site CinemaBlend   seems to be a go-to for all things Marvel. There are spoilers a plenty so proceed with caution.

Again, big and gaudy is Ragnorok. Fun, but I came home and watched all three Captain America movies. Go, Cap.

Oh, and if you haven’t bought your copy of the holiday anthology, A Very Austen Christmas by our own Barbara Cornthwaite, Robin Helm and Laura Hile, do so. You can help keep them cresting on their wave as No 1 in it’s category.

Placeholder Vet

Veteran’s Day was Saturday and there was the usual acknowledgement in Church  Sunday morning. I didn’t stand this year. I’ve made myself stand for the last few years, but not Sunday. I was glad to see several more women standing and I suppose out of solidarity I should have stood. I’m always conflicted about my service. It’s my own weird sort of Stolen Valor Syndrome.

The military services became all volunteer in 1973. With the draft eliminated, the military was less free to turn away candidates. I think the real thought was that if we didn’t maintain a huge standing Army, there would be less need for one. Too bad evil doesn’t think like that. Anyway, Viet Nam was winding down and the country was weary so the military wound down as well. I went to basic training in January of 1977. One day after Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president.

I spent nine weeks in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonia, Texas. Then went, by school bus, to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas. Yes, I managed to hit all the garden spots of Texas in winter. My first experience with Class 100 tornadoes was at Sheppard. I hate tornadoes.  After a bout of German Measles that put me in the hospital and put me back five days in my training, I went to Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho. There I schlepped tools and training records for the rest of my “tour.” I left the service the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in.

There were no hot spots, emergencies, insurgencies, no “cies” at all during my four-year tour of duty. We practiced in what was called “mobility training.” We all had to have our bags ready to go if all hell broke loose somewhere outside the U. S. I did have dog tags to identify my body if the worst happened.  But, all I really did was maintain a place for the next person to come along and serve. And, ideally, that’s what you want. Just keep the lights on and wheels greased, just in case.

People did die in covert military actions during my four years but not  in in “battle.” Overtly, things were quiet. We know there are covert activities because there are always covert operations being planned, executed and mopped up, no matter how peaceful it may look on the news.

This is my struggle. Saying I was in the Air Force, served one four-year TOD, and that I worked in Wing Training is disappointing for the hearer. Wing Training doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as Forward Operating Forces, or munitions. And, it’s not.

“So, you pushed paper.” Yup, that’s what I did. I helped to keep the clattery operation clattering along by scheduling people in fire suppression, small arms, and various duty-specific classes. I stood guard over freedom by  entering it all key-by-key in a pre-internet computer system that ran on punch cards, daisy wheel printers, and miles of continuous-feed computer paper. I kept the bureaucracy humming along to keep you safe.  All the offers of, “Thank you for your service,” are rather sad. They read like compliments to someone at the DMV for not making a hash of your license renewal. So, I sat this year.

Oh, and if you read last week’s screed on Amazon taking it’s sweet time getting me my paint sprayer, it finally came LAST NIGHT. Fat lot of good it did my at midnight. Bill tinkered with it and even read the owner’s manual. I think they walked it over after my complaint. Amazon, Google, Face Book, and Twitter. GAFT the Overlord has a nice ring to it.

It’s a Brave New Amazonian World

No, we’re not doing this kind of painting, but isn’t this neat? And odd. (Gizmondo.com.au)

So, Tuesday I ordered a simple, hand-held paint sprayer. Nothing fancy or elegant, but serviceable and in keeping with our station in life. I, of course, ordered it from Amazon because … you know. Anyway, it was supposed to be delivered to an Amazon Locker yesterday. My husband would pick it up on the way home from work in the wee hours of the morning so we could begin the mistification of paint early this morning.

Not happening. If you haven’t heard, Amazon has decided to start it’s own, in-house delivery system. For nearly two decades UPS has been bringing my Amazon stuff and I was happy. There was that one Big Bang Theory DVD that got crushed in the teeth of a conveyor belt and UPS sent it along anyway, but I called Amazon, they sent a new one, relationship reestablished. Nary a hitch since.

I love a mystery so I have been clicking and checking all the info on my order. Here’s what I know: if you’re part of the brave new Amazonian experiment, you will see the code, AMZL US in the tracking code for your order. From all the reviews I’ve read, particularly on Reddit, beware.

All this is annoying because there is a gargantuan Amazon warehouse within spitting distance of the locker. (Disclaimer: Put down the hand sanitizer for there is no actual spitting involved.This is not a measurement recognized by the U. S. Weights and Measures types, but a dated expression that means close by.)

I’m betting if some enterprising troop were to fire up a delivery drone, the engine wouldn’t even get warmed up whizzing it over to said locker.

Photo of the new Amazon delivery fleet courtesy of WIKI COMMONS

So, I wait. If this is the direction that Amazon is going with customer service, I’m rethinking my dependence on them. Meanwhile, if you see this guy out and about, send him my way. Please.

The Days They Pass …

acquired on PEXEL.COM

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2017
My tinnitus is screaming, which means I’ve been to church. Every Sunday, I try to remember just when every service become like a full-on DEAF Leppard concert. We even have a guitar player who does a modified shred during praise and worship. I’m just not appreciative of that sort of “freedom.” When did I become so old?

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2017
I finally caught up on season six, seven, and eight of The Walking Dead. I’ve been away from Rick and Co for nearly two years. But when my mom moved to be closer to my brother, I decided I would go back and catch up. I still love the storytelling; taut and tense. The more things change the more they stay the same. Well except for Glenn being gone.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2017
I got up and am working on a silly SciFi-esque story for Frederick and Anne. Here’s hoping to have some of it ready to post at BEYOND AUSTEN by Halloween. Or as most of us without children know it, next Tuesday. And today is beans and rice day. Any good recipes? The only serious bean recipe I know by heart is for Navy Bean soup. Love it but it’s not cold enough yet. Interesting aside, when looking for a graphic, all that came up at the graphics site I am using was coffee beans. So, coffee is what sustains us now, not food. Good to know.

Sue (Susan Kaye)