Monday, March 31, 2008

I ran into our library director yesterday at the garden festival, and mentioned my Estonian editions to him. I suggested, half-jokingly, that maybe he'd like some donated to our library.

He said in all seriousness that we might not have a strong need for them in Alachua County, Florida, but there may be Estonian communities in other parts of the US that would appreciate them in their public libraries.

I would love to see that happen. Spreading my tales of piratical naughtiness from the Baltics to cities across North America!

I was at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Spring Festival yesterday, and despite the gloomy weather it was a delight. I'm posting a couple pix from last year's festival, when the sun was shining. I ended up spending too much on plants I'll probably kill, as usual, but who can resist an eyepopping orange and gold hibiscus or Reiger begonias that look like they came out of a catalog photo shoot ("C'mon, sweetie, work it for us! Show us those glossy leaves!").

I also bought some wonderful handcrafted soaps and skin creams, and ate too much fair food. But it was worth every calorie to have a scoop of Sweet Dreams honey lavender ice cream.

Next week, the Spring Arts Festival!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Last night we went to see the film "Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day" and enjoyed it very much. Frances McDormand plays Guinevere Pettigrew, a middle-aged London governess who's out of work and on the streets. She takes a chance on one last job with glamorous American actress and singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) and in 24 hours has her life turned around.

It's a sweet, romantic comedy. McDormand is, as usual, outstanding and Adams plays the ditzy Delysia with a great deal of verve. It also features Lee Pace (le sigh!) of "Pushing Daisies".

Part of what I liked best about the film was what one reviewer said: She could have taken her elderly father to see it and they would have both enjoyed it. It was frothy and fun, and not full of nudity, violence or coarse language. I have no objection to those things in movies, but sometimes it seems like they're added in just to make the movie palatable to 16 year old boys.

This was more like a film you'd see on TCM--comedy and romance aimed at grownups, but you wouldn't worry about the kids wandering into the room while you're watching.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Over at my favorite research site, Compuserve's Books and Writers Community I'm getting help with three phrases I needed translated into Spanish:

1. "Do you charge by the hour? How much for the entire night?"

2. "More rum, and leave the bottle!"

3. "I want a different girl. That one has the pox!"

Have I ever said how much I love my job?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I've often said when you're a writer, everything is grist for the mill. Today I wrote an amusing scene for the WIP (work in progress) involving a pirate, a doctor who needs a translator, and a hemorrhoid sufferer.

Some of that came from personal experience. No, not that, the doctor part! Not that I am one, but having lived with people who suffer from that all too common medical complaint, I have some knowledge of what effective treatments were in the 19th and the 21st centuries.

Good times.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey last month, and part of what I felt as I watched it was an aching sadness for the future that wasn't. A future with commercial travel to the moon, and manned missions deep into space.

I still believe in space exploration, but one of the greats who also believed in it is gone. Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) died today. He will be missed, not only by his legions of science fiction fans, but by all who shared his vision of a better tomorrow, where humanity would keep reaching for the stars.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

OK, I don't write these posts just to make those of you in Massachusetts and similar frozen environs feel bad, but today was such a perfect spring day I had to write about it.

My task today was to travel to three branch libraries in outlying cities to pick up art that the Alachua County Library District Foundation is having re-framed.

It would have been prudent, given the price of gas, to take the hybrid. But the temperature was 81F (27C), the sky was absolutely blue, and there aren't that many days like this left before the heat of summer sets in.

I took the convertible.

I traveled back roads to get to my libraries, through twisting farmland and rolling hills dotted with oak shaded homesteads. The dogwoods and azaleas were in bloom, and magenta phlox covered the roadside. A trip that would have taken 30 minutes on the interstate took 2 hours and I loved every minute of it.

I hope wherever you are that spring comes soon, and when it does, take time to enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not surprisingly, I read a lot of romance novels. Today I want to recommend one that may have skipped by you. It's not filed with the romance novels, but it's one of the best love stories I've read this year: The Wedding Officer, by Anthony Capella.

It was fantastic. You'll laugh, you may cry, and you'll remember the characters and their story. A wonderful tale of wartime love in 1944 Naples, Italy.

Go read it. You'll thank me later. But don't read it while you're hungry! The food descriptions are practically pornographic!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Some minor plumbing woes continue, but we have hot water again. Amazing what a difference that can make in your life.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Joys of Plumbing

I usually save my whining for my personal blog over at another site, but when I was trying to think about what to write today, all I could think about was how I haven’t had hot water in my house since February 20. I’ll spare you the details, but we have a leak that’s resulting in the entire house having to be re-piped, an on-going effort.

Now, if I was writing erotic romance, hunky plumbers would show up at my door with tool kits…

But this is the real world. I’m getting “competent” over “hunky”, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, when it comes to plumbing, electric, carpentry or brain surgery I’ll take “competent” over “hunky” any day.

Anyway, it’s made me think about bathrooms and plumbing–a lot–especially since I write historicals. Many of my books are shipboard romances, and the intricacies of taking care of business in the past, especially in the small confines of a ship, fascinate me.

Sailors use to have two ways they’d relieve themselves: They would urinate into large tubs, because hey, liquid is liquid, and if you need to put out a fire in a hurry, it’s better than using the drinking water. The other bathroom needs were taken care of by hanging onto lifelines with your backside dangling over the bow of the ship, at the ship’s head, which gave rise to bathrooms aboard ship being called the “head”.

In her book Rough Medicine–Surgeons at Sea in the Age of Sail Joan Druett makes a point that other writers of naval medicine have made: One of the biggest problems in the age of sail was constipation. Combine bad food, not enough roughage or water, and then being told that you’re going to hang over the side to go while cold waves are jumping up at you…well, it’s not hard to understand why this was a continuing issue.

Now, I’ve got two sons, a husband, and four brothers, so “potty humor” has been a huge part of my life. I sometimes wonder if I think about this stuff more than other historical writers, but it niggles at me. If I’ve got a woman disguised as a man aboard ship, how’s she doing her stuff? What happens when she menstruates? I had to change the plot of one of my novels to a scenario where the heroine wasn’t bunking down with the boys for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was she couldn’t hang her butt out on the lifelines. In another novel my heroine had a cunningly carved gourd funnel she kept pinned inside her trousers so she could stand up like the guys. And if you want your own disposable funnel for being able to stand and deliver, I recommend these.

And then there’s the daily bathing thing. Forget about it. Most people were content to wash the important parts and not immerse their entire body in hot water on a daily basis, with good reason. It was hard to get hot water, hard to fill a tub, hard to empty the tub. Plus, we always think to ourselves, “Euwww! I could never live in the past ’cause they all smell awful!” Well, yeah, they did, but you get used to it. Seriously, your olfactory glands adjust. That’s why you can’t smell yourself like other people smell you. And if you think about it, our modern life with its smells of carbon exhaust and overly perfumed air might smell pretty rank to someone from 200 years ago more used to the fresh smell of manure.

Anyway, the plumbers assure me we’ll have hot water again. Maybe by the end of the week. So I’m optimistic. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing about pirates and privateers and asking myself the really important questions.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A small change...

Every writer has his or her own pet error. OK, some of us have more than others.

One of my particular problems is the proper use of the words "might" and "may". So I made a correction at the top of this page, just above my picture. I think it's now correct. If you disagree, let me know.