The best plaid lice

The best plaid lice of Men and Slans…

Or words to that effect… after what amounts too long of building with as much writing as I could manage (still quite a lot – two books have come out in that time) squeezed in the edges, we’re now in our home.  So: as I have this totally unsupported belief that you should start your year as you plan to continue it, I thought I’d spend my birthday writing, and being glad I was not at sea as the weather was wild.

Only in the fashion of these plaid lice (a problem under the kilt, believe me) we had what my weather-station tells me was a ‘strong gale’ the night before. It turned extreme even for the roaring forties. Barbs had gone into the great city of Whitemark for some Scottish Country Dancing, and by the time that was over the gusts would have picked up her little car, and the likelihood of falling or fallen trees on the road was high. So she stayed in town and I did my best to prepare for what sounded like the roof (corrugated iron) flapping and possibly blowing away – if the entire structure didn’t follow suite.  Actually, it was merely a piece of gutter and a down-pipe, both of which stayed up even if they moved a little from where they belong. Things can sound much worse than they are.

It took until about 3 AM to begin to settle, Barbs got home at 4.15 AM and… I thought my plans might shift to sleeping in slightly, as Barbs had the day off, and then doing some writing.

Plans… 6.45 AM, the phone rings. It’s a hunter-friend. He shot a feral pig last night. Do I want to help butcher it and get some pig? Now, really, my freezer is full of pig already. But… Island rules, turn down this sort invitation, and you won’t get the offer again.  So actually my birthday was not spent writing, but butchering. By the time I was done with that… it was late, I was tired and sitting down at the computer (the basic requirement for this writing stuff, of which I have heard much) and about as productive as a politician’s promises.

So I sat down and tried to get my birthday present (a Kindle paperwhite) to work. Now, I bought Barbs one years ago, but I am happy ready on screen, and so read e-books on my computer screen. I looked at one of my own stories (BOLG, PI, THE BOLG AND THE BEAUTIFUL) – which I think I wrote in about 2012. I concluded rapidly: 1) I could do it better. It’s too dense (a fault I suffer from, but easier to see at a distance) with basically a book in a novella. 2) I am a sarcastic smartass (I would never have guessed), and of course terribly politically correct and never make fun of that. 3) One should always look at a book in the format you plan to sell most of it in.  The fleurons I used to separate scenes, which looked good on my computer screen, are effectively invisible at Kindle size. The footnotes are at the end, not the foot of the page. This is awkward because I introduce a character and concept on page one (and explain that in footnotes) Now the fact that Mario-the-fairy** (**)doesn’t come up until the end – when it is no-longer relevant that Mario is a real fairy, one of the Sidhe, from Southern Ireland. He just self identifies as Italian. He’s a Trans-Geographist. We Cis-Geographists just don’t know how it feels to be born in the wrong country.

I was amused, if irritated by it being in the wrong place.  I had forgotten writing that. I had no idea, back then, how fashionable this ‘trans’ thing would become.  It was a satirical in-joke aimed at a friend who claims she feels she was born in the wrong country. She’s done her best to remedy that, and, with the fierce patriotism of the New American who fought hard for that, is more American than many Americans. She’s taken ‘fit in or f off’ to another level. Frankly, that’s a lot smarter than the delusion that a country will change to fit around you, your language and your culture – and a lot more pragmatic, seeing as wanting to be something else (be it American or Armenian) means you must have some reason for wanting the change. If you do just bring your old country and culture with you, chances are you bring the reason for wanting to move too. And odds are: your host country’s people are going to discover they liked those aspects of what you fled (but brought with you) as little as you do. It’s not a great way of making new friends or gaining a new home.

Of course, to some extent, no matter how you try, you do bring some bits of baggage. Accents are hard for older migrants, and food-habits are as hard to lose.  The other thing you take with you is yourself. And nowhere does that show up as much as in your writing, if like me, you write for a living.

So: maybe it’s a good thing I live in interesting times, or generate them around myself.

It gives me something to write about.

The storm featured in today’s writing work. Not sure where the pig fits in.

Image by Roger Mosley from Pixabay

17 comments

  1. I’m glad to hear there wasn’t much storm damage!

    I’m looking forward to reading the fictionalized version. And the pig. I think the feeding of intrepid adventurers is too often neglected. Unless, of course, as snelson said, the pig is one of the adventurers and objects to being called “Dinner”

  2. [looks up Whitemark, learns it is the largest city, with a population of 155, or about a quarter of the entire island]

    [wonders what the rest of us have to do to rate our own private island]

    😀

  3. With a bit of cure, a bit of time, and a bit of smoke: bacon.
    And you can’t really start off a year much better.

  4. It takes that long to butcher a pig? I may be confusing “field dressing” with “butchering”, only having done the former and relied upon professionals for the latter. So, maybe a better question is: Doesn’t that require specialized tools (e.g. bone compatible band saw)?
    On the subject of food in stories, I just re-read the (far too lengthily named) Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series and they eat a LOT. Granted that our intrepid hero starts off as a galley mate so an emphasis on food makes sense, but they’re on a space ship and eat massive amounts of carbs. I’m surprised they don’t waddle out of the lock when the ship docks.
    “fleurons” – so that’s what those fancy “* * *” things are called. Does anyone actually care what they look like?

    1. If they’re too small to be visible, then scene breaks can be confusing. (Ask some of my early alpha readers, before I figured out what to do.)

    2. I once had the dubious honor of butchering about a quarter pig for my brother, solo. Not being among the most well-coordinated of individuals, and not having access to specialized professional grade tools (which are a convenience if you use them continuously, not a necessity), and being without benefit of prior experience, it took me the better part of an afternoon. I’m not claiming that the wrapping and freezing part was up to professional standards, either, but It can take a while to reduce a large animal to meal-sized cuts of meat.

      1. When I was at Flat State U, the first cuts of meat for sale from the meat lab every year were a little . . . let us say, non-standard. Roasts that tapered in odd ways, steaks with a ripple, that sort of thing. By the end of the year? Perfection. Everybody’s got to learn some time! They all tasted wonderful.

    3. Animals were butchered for thousands of years before band saws existed. 😉

      A lot of modern cuts of meat exist because they’re the most efficient way to break an animal down to useable bits.
      But a band saw, air compressor, etc. are strictly optional if availability is more important than efficency.
      Possibly the best example is the (beef) 7-bone roast. You need a band saw to make that cut, but without a band saw you can still remove muscle from all those bones to get several useful cuts of meat. It just takes a longer. A lot longer.

  5. I do not care for storms, to put it mildly, especially in buildings with metal roofs. Too many tornadoes, alas, have ruined wild weather for me.

    Ooh, yes, I can see why turning down the invite in order to write might cause a lack of future invitations. Good luck with the butchering and packing. Is there a certain wood you use to smoke pork, or is there one you strongly avoid?

  6. I’m not trans-geographic. Well…. maybe I am.
    I’ll Somerset Maugham because better than I:
    “I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.”
    Aye, verily. And a woman also.

  7. Oh, and the new Kindle Create software, while not giving a plethora of options produces very readable ebooks with FAR less work. Yea, I know the previous version emburked (as mom would say) my computer and had to be removed. But the new one is fine.

  8. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.

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