(no subject)

May. 27th, 2016 03:49 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
On the plus side, my body has finally settled down in terms of the migraine. On the minus side, I’ve gotten nothing done beyond posting and reading here and emptying the dishwasher. Well, I fed myself, too— Hamburger for breakfast and collard greens with salt and mustard for lunch. I’ve been eating lunch very, very slowly over the last two hours or so, and I still haven’t finished. I suspect I won’t. I think that drinking a lot of water is what finally killed the nausea.

I got myself together to email my doctor about the food/fatigue/brain fog thing. I didn’t explicitly ask about seeing an endocrinologist, though. I couldn’t quite get myself to. I poked around online a bit. I found not a single website, in pages of results, that talks about fatigue/brain fog that is resolved by eating. Almost every single thing talked about having issues after eating particular foods which is not my issue in the slightest. The closest I got to my issue was stuff talking about eating disorders causing brain fog and fatigue in teenage girls.

Contact List Update

May. 27th, 2016 03:12 pm
milliways_mods: (All Knowing)
[personal profile] milliways_mods posting in [community profile] ways_back_room


When you get a chance, can you take a peek over at the contact list and let me know if there are any corrections to be made?

"Hey Bing, I don't see my name. What do I do?"

Go to the above link and submit your information via comment, making sure to use the formatting template offered in the text box located after the instructions.

"But I did that already. Why is my stuff not there?"

There were a couple of instances where the formatting of submissions was off-model. Resubmit it using the template in the text box located after the instructions.

"Okay I see my name, but...huh. That's not right. Can I correct/add something?"

Sure! Please do, in fact. Submit any necessary changes in a comment, with the subject heading UPDATE.

If you have any further questions please feel free to comment either here, or at milliways.mods [at] gmail.
monanotlisa: (advice)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
My friends, no matter how incompetent you may feel about Real Life, trust me when I say you are still beating me by a mile:

I just had the most awkward 7-minute phone conversation with a Midwestern customer rep of a bathroom fixture company -- the company that d.irge had install her shower. Because damn if I could figure out how to switch the water stream from faucet to showerhead on my own.

(To my defense, I once broke that same mechanism in a New York Upper West Side apartment where I was visiting a work buddy of mine...the look on his and his wife's faces discouraged me from ever pulling hard at unknown nubs sticking out of shower walls and faucets.)

X-Men Apocalypse

May. 27th, 2016 01:52 pm
giandujakiss: (erikcharles)
[personal profile] giandujakiss
Well, one good thing to come out of it - I like Charles and Erik much better after this movie than I did after DOFP, where I found them both so unpleasant that it killed my 'ship. I even may feel 'ship kindlings again.

This movie is odd in that, like, 90% of it is set-up - just, a terrific amount of character introduction and build. Which is sort of an awkward structure, but it also means that unlike most superhero movies, there isn't a fight sequence every 20 minutes - there's, like, dialogue instead. Which I vastly prefer. (Except for the fact that there was a guy in front of me who actually fell asleep and snored loudly throughout the movie, and I kept praying for a loud fight sequence to wake him up.)

Generally speaking, I found it pretty enjoyable. Pietro was the best part, actually, just the way he was in DOFP, and Fassbender was almost criminally attractive. Charles functioned as a classic damsel-in-distress for a little while, and that pleased me.

I don't have a lot of other deep thoughts, but my biggest complaints

Spoilers, but not huge ones )

Stanley Cup Final!

May. 27th, 2016 08:22 pm
schneefink: (Fleury)
[personal profile] schneefink
Yesterday I met up with DD for ice cream, then we got annual tickets for the natural history museum and walked through the first floor. (Sooo many birds! Birds are cool. And other animals. Less information but a lot more exhibits than the same museums in NYC or DC.) Then we watched a few episodes of "The 100" (finished the season by now, review later), slept for three hours, and woke up in time to watch Penguins-Lightning game 7.

What a game! Fast, clean, very entertaining. It helped that my team was playing better, though they only scored two goals and were up by one for the whole last period because of Tampa's excellent goalie. My poor nerves… I'm very glad I didn't have to watch it on my own. But the Pens won! Bryan Rust, unlikely hero, who almost got a hat trick. Pens are going to the Stanley Cup Final and it's beautiful. Always great to see Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguin, smiling like that.

We then slept again for a few hours and I'm not even exhausted today. Still happy about the Pens in the SCF. Sports is weird. What a season.
Now SCF against the Sharks, who are scary good. Thornton, Pavelsky, Couture, their top 4 D are excellent… The Pens are also good, but they lost one of their top 4 D to injury and I know several of them are playing injured, and idk I'm not feeling very confident. I also don't dread it though; I'd be rooting for the Sharks against any team but the Pens, so if they win I'll be disappointed but not crushed. (I think.) Until then, optimism! It's going to be great hockey :)

plot bunny, free to a good home

May. 27th, 2016 02:18 pm
lizcommotion: typewriter on a table, faded (writing)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
Midsomer Murders x Dr Who

Why does no one move from Midsomer? Why are only two bumbling yet affable detectives in charge of a string of seemingly unrelated murders instead of a giant task force full of forensics people? Why is it still seen as a pleasant destination?

The Doctor knows some deeper work must be at play. His only regret is that it has taken him so long to investigate...better get ready to RUN.

(no subject)

May. 27th, 2016 11:04 am
raincitygirl: (Default)
[personal profile] raincitygirl
I went to West Coast Forest Medical Spa and Massage at Howe and Helmcken downtown, and it was blissful. Also, they have a special deal on right now where you can get a 90 minute massage (relaxation massage, not with an RMT) for $79, which is very good value. Not such good value that I’ll be going often, but I could justify it as a once-in-a -while expense, because a 90 minute massage at a fancy schmancy downtown spa usually costs anything between $120 and $150, which I refuse to pay.

Warning: it is not a fancy schmancy spa with lemon infused water in the waiting room, but Lynne did a fabulous job on my poor back. Which is what it’s all about, right? If I want lemon infused water, I’ll buy a damn lemon at the supermarket and cut it up myself. They also do RMT massage, acupuncture, etc. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

And while I was walking to Howe and Helmcken, a little tyke of about 5 years old came running by, in full Captain America costume, right down to the little plastic shield. I kind of wanted to take a photo, but it looked like he and his mother were on their way to catch a bus or something, the way they were hustling. Besides, she might have said no. People can get weird about total strangers snapping pictures of their kids, for understandable reasons.

It reminds me of when we went to see Captain America: Civil War, and it was opening night, and there was a woman there dressed as Bucky, right down to the metal arm. Heaven only knows how she’d done it. I wanted to take a picture of her too, but she was deep in conversation with someone and I didn’t want to interrupt them just to say, “Awesome cosplay, can I take your photo?”

Fostering may be back on, if the kitty gets back to health. Maybe. Well, Young Miss Weaver and I aren't going anywhere, and I got a bigger litter box when I recently had to buy a new one, so it's all good no matter what happens.
musesfool: Finn (and my face has a name)
[personal profile] musesfool
So I've begun poking at the Rey & Finn's Epic Space Road Trip (feat. Force ghost Anakin Skywalker) wip and it's made me step back and rethink how to write a road trip when there probably isn't a lot of arguing about music/comics/pop culture. I mean, there could be, under other circumstances? But I don't see either Rey or Finn being too up on whatever the TFA-era equivalent of "Would the Hulk beat Wolverine in a fight?" or whatever is (and Anakin's references are very dated, which is, hopefully, as funny in execution as it is in my head). Though I guess they might be familiar with variations on various car games.

There is the plot, such as it is. I mean, at least this story has one? Sort of. There's an end goal in mind anyway, they're not just on a random road trip for vacation, and I have a list of things that I'm hoping to include (if you've ever read a story by me, you can probably guess what some of those are), but it's making me think about what the important parts of a road trip story are, and how some of them might translate (e.g., what is the GFFA equivalent of punchbuggy? are rest stops still liminal spaces in space travel?).

We're heading into a holiday weekend here and technically we start our 'summer Friday' hours today - getting out at 2:30 pm, though whether I will be able to do so depends on whether or not I get some materials I've been waiting for, which I was told I would, but they have not materialized as of yet, so who can say?

eta: and I just sent out the stuff at 3:15, so I can go home now. Whew.

I have a bbq on Sunday, but am otherwise unfettered by plans, so there could definitely be some writing and some answering comments in there, in addition to possibly making some kind of cupcakes to take with me on Sunday.

And it's warm enough now that it feels like summer. Last night, I was defeated and had to turn on the AC instead of holding out for June like I was hoping to. But there comes a certain point when the only person I'm hurting is myself because I'm not sleeping properly and it can be solved as easily as turning on the air conditioning. I mean, I wish all my bouts of insomnia could be so easily solved! So not doing it when I know it will work seems...counterproductive, despite my desire to keep my electric bills manageable.

Anyway, boss2 keeps coming into my cube so I'll wrap this up for now.


not just a display piece

May. 27th, 2016 10:46 am
solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird

Laying down timing tracks for the new album, finally. I did four and a half tracks yesterday – this is a quick process. None of these recordings will make it onto the final, but it’s a helpful step.

For the moment, the new microphone is living as a display piece in the corner of the room, on the shelf with all the other microphones. Every time I see it, I consider more places I might actually use it on this album. XD

This whole thing got started by looking up how to fake bullhorn vocals, like I needed for the new single, Pee Police (on Bandcamp, YouTube, and Soundcloud). Universally, people said the best way to do it was use a real bullhorn. I mean yes, I’d wanted to build a carbon microphone for a long time. But in terms of actually doing it, this was the prompt.

If you want a specific sound made by a specific thing, the best way to do it is have that thing. $19 in parts later, I have it!

“Starship on Fire” is so far the most likely track to get some carbon mic vocals in the mix. Since it’s told – sung? – from two different viewpoints at once (past character, present character implied), one of those viewpoints having this kind of effect makes storytelling sense. I will at very least try it, and see how it sounds.

I’m going to use the Korra On the Air icon for all the LJ and Dreamwidth crossposts that mention this microphone forever, aren’t I? Yes. Yes, I am.

It’s a long weekend for a lot of people reading this, so – yay! Go have some fun.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Ton van der Wouden asks:

The Google Ngram viewer shows a tenfold increase in the frequency of the string "whether or not". Can the readers of language log think of any explanation for this growth? Can it perhaps be traced back to some prescriptive source? Is it perhaps accompanied by a comparable decrease of the frequency of the variant with postposed "or not", as in "whether you like it or not" — a string that is too long a search term for the Ngram viewer.

A readthrough?

May. 27th, 2016 08:31 pm
extrapenguin: Photo of horse's head (Default)
[personal profile] extrapenguin posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
So, there shall be another Bujold Fest on AO3 in the early autumn (prompting'll start in early August, I think), and in preparation, I suggest a readthrough! (Or themed discussion posts? Perhaps both?)

Now, looking back, the last readthrough (in 2009) didn't reach The Vor Game, so I guess we could either start with that, or start from Shards of Honor, and then continue in chronological order. How do people feel about it?

(no subject)

May. 27th, 2016 01:25 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Yesterday was quite a good day. Scott and I dropped a box and bag of books at Cordelia’s school and two bags of books at the downtown library. We mailed three packages (I managed to misplace the receipt for that, so I haven’t emailed tracking numbers to the recipients yet. I will). We bought more bus tokens for Cordelia. Then we parked in the library structure and walked to State St to go to Totoro. It was unpleasantly warm, but I really needed the walk.

I had a salmon teriyaki bento. Scott had a chicken teriyaki bowl with vegetables and rice. My sister (the one who just had surgery) called right after we sat down. She and I arranged for me to call her back when we got home.

My sister seems to be recovering really well from her surgery. She sounded happy and energetic. From what she said, the main problem has been the gas left in her abdominal cavity. Oh, and the hospital transitioned her from I.V. painkillers to ibuprofen at OTC concentrations even though the doctor had given her a prescription for percocet. She couldn’t get pain relief until she got home which is pretty stupid.

Scott and I watched part of Deadpool. We wanted to evaluate whether or not Cordelia would be interested in watching it with us. My verdict is that she might want to watch it but would absolutely be mortified to watch it with us. I’ll probably talk to her about that. I don’t think the level of violence is more traumatic than, say, The Hunger Games, and I’m a lot more concerned about that than about sex/innuendo and swearing.

I lay down to nap, and then my mother called. We talked for most of the time that I had for napping. She thinks I need to see an endocrinologist. I was surprised to hear from her. This is only the second or third time in my life that she’s called me on my birthday.

We ended up going to Bob Evans for dinner because I wanted pancakes. I also got a hamburger, carry out, that I ate for breakfast this morning. I felt okay doing that because Bob Evans costs about half as much as the places we generally go for birthdays and other special occasions.

Scott gave me Langston Hughes’ Collected Poems, the Rurouni Kenshin New Kyoto Arc DVD, and the Weiss Kreuz DVD thinpack (some of my old DVDs don’t play reliably any longer, and this was under $20, so I thought it was worth doing given that I’m not going to stop writing in the fandom). He told me that he’s still expecting one more item, and two packages arrived today, one addressed to me and one to him. I don’t remember any pending orders, except some shirts from Blair that only shipped today, so I’m not opening the package addressed to me until Scott gets home.

I discovered last night that Cordelia’s English teacher had marked four of her five PT absences as unexcused. She told me that it’s because I didn’t call the office about them and that I’d better do that now. I’m fairly pissed off about that because I walked into the office every single time and told them that Cordelia had physical therapy. I signed her out each time and then back in after the appointments. The office, when I called them, confirmed that they knew she was going to PT and that those absences should be labeled as medical and thus excused. The lady I talked to fixed those in the computer records immediately. I just shouldn’t have had to do that.

There are also, from the same teacher, some unexcused absences when Cordelia was doing mandatory standardized tests that she had missed due to PT. The teacher claims that she is utterly helpless to address that problem and that the absences will remain unexcused. Every other teacher in the school has correctly marked all of those absences, both PT and testing related.

I woke with a migraine this morning that hasn’t quite dissipated. At this point, it’s more nausea than headache, but I really don’t feel well at all. The only reason I haven’t gone back to bed is that I’m not convinced it would help. If I’m going to feel rotten, I might as well do it while watching TV or listening to music. Plus, there’s no way to charge my cell phone in the bedroom, and I would like it to be at at least 50% charge when I take it in there with me.

I am thinking that my mother is right that I need to see an endocrinologist. It will be a PITA because of where that clinic is located and because I suspect my primary care doctor won’t want to refer me. She thinks my thyroid issues are simple. I’m just wondering if there are other issues we should be digging at. I have pretty constant fatigue issues. If I don’t eat regularly and sufficiently, I stop being able to think even enough to watch TV. My diet skews to the foods that experience, going back to high school in the early 1980s, tells me will help the most.

The first time I ever tried to diet (under a nutritionist's supervision), I failed an exam in a college physics class because my brain wouldn't function. I had the option to retest because it was an independentish course where one could take tests at any time and retest as often as one needed to. I went and bought a bottle of pop and drank it. I passed the retest less than an hour after failing the first test. The nutritionist didn’t believe a word I said about it.

I tried Provigil at one point (my psychiatrist considers the fatigue a big deal. No other doctor has ever paid any attention to the matter), but I couldn’t tolerate the smallest dose made— 100 mg— and half tablets weren’t helpful at all (my psychiatrist wanted to get me to 3/4 of a tablet, but the tablets were oblong and not scored for cutting. They also tended to crumble when cut. Quartering was not a viable option). There was a period, a few years back, when I was taking Provigil and drinking coffee right on getting up and still ending up back in bed for a two to four hour nap about an hour later (right after getting Cordelia to school) at least four days a week. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the creamer I add to my coffee each morning is more effective at waking me up than the caffeine. I suppose I could test that by skipping the coffee and just drinking the creamer one day and just black coffee another day, but the creamer is kind of unappealing on its own, and black coffee makes me feel sick.

(no subject)

May. 27th, 2016 09:57 am
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
[personal profile] bitterlawngnome

Symphytum × uplandicum, Garden Comfrey; 8959
© Bill Pusztai 2016

Sarracenia × flava, Yellow Pitcher-plant; 8911
© Bill Pusztai 2016

Sarracenia × flava, Yellow Pitcher-plant; 8931
© Bill Pusztai 2016

[syndicated profile] jamesfallows_feed

Posted by James Fallows

Incumbent Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at left, from the Liberal party (the conservatives, in U.S. terms), and his opponent Bill Shorten, Labour party leader, at a debate this month before the federal election in July. Australian citizens are required by law to vote. Thus the contending parties spend no time at all worrying about either “voter suppression” or “the turnout game.” (AAP / Mick Tsikas/via Reuters)

Last week, in response to a WaPo op-ed titled “We Must Weed Out Ignorant Voters,” I said that I disagreed with that plan  — but that failing knowledge of the mechanics of self-government known as “civics” was indeed something to worry about.

An American reader who used to live and work in Australia, and has an Australian spouse and “two little Aussie-Americans” in the household, writes with this point:

I was writing in response to your blog post on May 22 regarding the idea of disenfranchising low information voters.  

I see from your recent posts that you have been traveling to Australia frequently [yes, most recently on a program for the Lowy Institution] , so you are probably aware that voting is compulsory Down Under. [Also yes. There’s a minor fine for non-compliance, but most people comply, and seem proud of it.]

Few complain about this law, and I believe that compulsory voting has a tremendous moderating effect on politics there.  Until Tony Abbott's PM-ship, social issues were not really mainstream issues there.  His quick and harsh demise can be seen as an indication of the danger there of being so polarizing.

Similarly, the issue of guns is much more rational when you expand the vote and don't rely on getting out your base and suppressing the other side's core faithful.

Read On »

Elementary, my dear Murderface

May. 27th, 2016 11:15 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
In the last episode, Murderface bought himself a house! Today, he takes up an additional line of work when he stumbles onto murder most dire and is tasked with investigating it. Because he’s so good at figuring stuff out.

Also: an ethical dilemma!
Read more... )

Elizabeth Jane Howard

May. 27th, 2016 05:26 pm
hunningham: Woman peering out from a book (More with Reading)
[personal profile] hunningham

All of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel have been recently been republished with beautiful covers showing elegant & sophisticated women.

something in disguise then This is my copy of Something in Disguise from 1980. It’s not one of Penguin’s greatest moments.

something in disguise nowThis is the most recent edition of the same book. It's about some truly appalling awful marriages, so I can’t say the joyful cover is very representative of the content, but such an improvement.


May. 27th, 2016 12:21 pm
topaz119: (HeartsFromTheBeach)
[personal profile] topaz119
Oh, y'all, school is finally done for this year. (Well, there is still somewhat decent chance that BabyBoy will have failed one or two classes and will be in summer school, but that's online, and we'll deal with it if it happens.) The last week has been full of projects and papers and assignments until midnight, with a couple of highly dramatic meltdowns and boatloads of drama. On the good side, though, he and a couple of friends wrote, shot, edited and posted two videos for their AP World History classes (he did his best Jimmy Fallon and interviewed Joseph Stalin) and there was a short story written and edited to go along with the research paper. AND, my only contributions were the final SPAG edit on the written stuff, and a template for a newsletter. The rest of the time I sat and colored and offered encouragement. (The coloring was to keep my brain occupied so I didn't go overboard on the I-told-you-so's as to how he really should have been keeping up during the year. He was frustrated enough with himself that he possibly heard me this time, but the jury is still out. (He has 3 AP classes next year, so let's hope he has.) It is really stressful not to leap in and fix things. I always forget how hard it is just to sit and color.

Anyway. I went to bed at 9 last night. It was barely even dark. It was pretty damn glorious.

And then this morning, I got to have the external-validation-is-nice-but-you'll-kill-your-creativity-if-you-build-your-self-worth-around-it talk with him (Jimmy & Joseph only got a 92 and he was super-frustrated with that, which I totally sympathize with. The production values alone were worth a much higher grade and if you don't want to grade on technical issues, don't assign it as a video, assign it as a script for a video.) The talk was a good refresher for me, too, and my cousin the actor had just posted a don't-let-the-gatekeepers-be-your-only-measurement-tool essay on facebook, so clearly, it is that time of year.

In less academic/creative angst sort of news, I have discovered the following two recipes for my abundance of cilantro 'problem':
1. A green sauce from John Besh's My Family Table, a sort of no-cheese cilantro pesto (thanks to [personal profile] st_aurafina for the pesto suggestion), which is super good on grilled steaks/chicken/fish (it's not online, but it's really just ½ cup olive oil, juice from ½ lime, 2 green onions, a small bunch of cilantro (just the leaves), 2 cloves garlic, all zapped in the food processor/blender.) It holds well in the fridge and is great the following week brushed on grilled/broiled flatbreads with or without any of the leftover grilled meats, and some grated manchego.

2. Mexican Street Corn Salad, which is fabulous on its own, but also amazing tossed into a burrito with the grilled protein of your choice and some rice and guac.

Also, for the Regency readers on my circle/flist, Amazon and Audible have had the Rosamund Pike narration of Pride & Prejudice on sale for $3.99 if you have your accounts linked and a kindle edition of the book (any kindle edition, even the free one.) I can't tell if it's still ongoing, but the RP-narration is fabulous and well worth checking to see if it's still happening.

Have a good weekend (and if you're in the US, a good long weekend, and yay, summer!)
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

Looks like this year's winners are again co-champions and of Indian (South Asian) origin. Guessing from their names, one of them has a Karnataka heritage and the other an Andhra background.

Quoting from "National spelling bee ends in a tie for third consecutive year" (USA Today, 5/27/16):

For the third year in a row, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has ended with two champions.

Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., were declared co-champions Thursday night after fighting to a draw during 39 rounds of competition.

“It was just insane,” Jairam* said as he and Nihar triumphantly hoisted the golden winner’s cup into the air.

“I’m just speechless,” Nihar said. “I’m only in the fifth grade.”


*The younger brother of 2014 co-champion, Sriram Hathwar.

Here are some of the words that came up in the final rounds:

Feldenkrais — a trademark that refers to a system of aided body movements

gesellschaft — a type of social relationship

drahthaar — a dog breed

mischsprache — everybody on Language Log knows what that means

Earlier rounds included words like these:

esquisse — a first, usually rough sketch

Wehrmacht — to the unified forces of Nazi Germany

myoclonus — an irregular, involuntary muscle contraction

bailliage — the authority of a medieval officer

kakiemon — a Japanese decorated porcelain

vasopressin — a neurohypophysial hormone that increases blood pressure

Notice a pattern?  It seems as though in these advanced spelling bees they very quickly run out of words from the regular English lexicon that can stump these young pinyin (I recommend that they put that on next year's list) wizards and have to move on foreign terms, arcane and obsolete words, specialized technical vocabulary, trademarks, and so forth.

Here are a couple more articles on this year's national championship competition:

"Two champions in the 2016 National Spelling Bee" (CNN, 5/27/16)

"National spelling bee crowns co-champs for third straight year" (ESPN, 5/27/16)

Earlier Language Log posts on spelling bees include the following:

"Spelling bee champs" (6/1/14)

"Spelling bees and character amnesia" (8/7/13)

"Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia" (9/25/13)

"Of toads, modernization, and simplified characters" (8/16/13)

"Brain imaging and spelling champions" (8/7/15)

"Il ne parle pas français" (7/23/15)

The following post may be relevant (one of the comments explicitly mentions spelling bees):

"Spoken Sanskrit" (1/9/16)

See also:

"Why Chinese Kids Are Terrible At Spelling Bees:  Globalization brings texting and spelling bees to China, with unfortunate results" (Popular Science, 8/13/13)

I think every rational person would agree that the overwhelming dominance of individuals of Indian (South Asian) descent in the spelling bees, year after year, cannot be due to chance, coincidence, or accident.  There must be some causal explanation.  What is it?

Is there an inverse relationship with the overall dismal record of Indians in muscular athletics?

[h.t. H. Krishnapriyan]

alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin

This is the most recently published (though not the most recently written) story I’ve selected to highlight this month. Like a lot of the things I wrote in 2015, it has a deeply personal connection for me. The place described in this story is a real place I have been to many times, though only as an adult. Like the character in the story, I’ve stood there on the shore with my mother, waiting for dolphins who show up, sometimes. In fact, I was standing amidst the sand and shells, essentially trying to figure out how to summon dolphins with my mind (as one does) when this story came to me.

I’m posting this along with the other short stories that have gone up this month to let you the interested reader see what I have to offer as an interesting author. If you like what you read and would like to see more like it, please join me on Patreon.

Oh, and it could probably go without saying, but I’ve had people attribute sillier elements of my fiction to my actual life, so let’s make it explicit: apart from the location and the pasttime of dolphin-watching, nothing about this story is autobiographical.

Sometimes, There Are Dolphins

By Alexandra Erin

Honeymoon Island, off the gulf coast of Florida, was connected to the mainland city of Dunedin by a causeway. It was a state park, open every day from eight a.m. until sunset. The beaches of Honeymoon Island were laid with shells as other beaches are covered in sand, with a fresh batch deposited daily by the gulf water tides.

The water as seen from the shore presented a shimmering spectrum of ocean hues, from sun-dappled silver to sparkling emerald to deep azure and many incomprehensible blends in between. The near-constant wind blowing in off the gulf keeps the clouds moving at a brisk pace, ensuring that even the most overcast days often present an interesting sight when the sun begins to dip below the distant waters at the curve of the world.

None of this had made much of an impression on Clara. She’d enjoyed the first afternoon at the beach well enough, and had had enough fun splashing around in the surf and collecting shells that she hadn’t minded staying to stare at the horizon with her mother.

“Sometimes, there are dolphins,” her mother had said excitedly. “They skim right along the shore, swimming in a pod. They trace the causeway and follow the outline of the island. Sometimes they jump and show off, or swim back and forth. They don’t always come, of course, but when they do, it’s usually it right before sunset.”

There hadn’t been any dolphins, though, that night or any of the five that followed. Each night, her mother had repeated the words “sometimes, there are dolphins,” at least once, with a little less fervor. Clara had gone from resenting her mother for dragging her out each night to feeling sorry for her.

This was the last night of their vacation, and now Clara was excited even though her mother wasn’t.

It was all because of the book.

She’d found it in the crawlspace over the garage of Grandpa’s old rundown little retirement cabin days ago, but it had taken her some time to learn how to read it. She’d never seen a book like it before, one not printed with orderly uniform letters but written by hand, many hands. Some of the letters were loopy and sprawling, some were spider-leg thin, but they all crowded against one another on pages that seemed like they should have been roomy enough to accommodate anyone.

Looking at the writing had given Clara a headache at first, as well as an odd, fluttery feeling in the pit of her stomach. Curiosity had brought her back to the book, though.

That, and boredom.

Florida was supposed to be fun, but this wasn’t anywhere close to the right part of Florida, as far as she could tell. There was no Disney World here. There wasn’t even a Universal Studios. There was a Busch Gardens, but her mother had said she wouldn’t like it, even though the best description she had mustered of it was “like a zoo with rollercoasters,” and Clara couldn’t imagine anyone not liking that.

“Maybe next time,” her mother had said, though this was supposed to be the final trip, when Grandpa’s affairs were all wrapped up so the funny old house could be sold off.

Clara didn’t know what her grandfather’s affairs had been. She’d asked a few grown-ups what an affair was, but the answers had been amused and evasive.

So while her mother had spent most of her time meeting with people in suits and going through boxes in what she called the study, Clara’s attention had kept drifting back to the book. In time she’d learned how to look at it without wincing, and then how to read it.

It helped when she realized that the parts written in red pen were newer and made more sense than the rest. In fact, they helped her make sense of the others. She learned to think of it as a teacher correcting a badly written essay, suggesting better words, easier words.

At some point, she had started to think of the teacher as her grandfather and imagined that he was giving her some kind of guidance, knowing how much she hated to feel confused. The day she saw some of the papers in his study marked with the same red ink in the same handwriting, she had realized she was right. That was when she decided to keep the book for herself. It would be her inheritance, the last gift from her long-absent grandfather. It would make up for all the missed birthdays and Christmases.

She couldn’t tell her mother, of course. For some reason, her mother hadn’t wanted Clara to know much about him. Probably she was still mad about all her own birthdays and things that he’d missed.

Clara had already somehow known she couldn’t tell her mother about the book, but it felt good to have a reason that she could use to explain to herself why this must be so.

But even though she would keep the book for herself, she wouldn’t be selfish about it.

When she’d found the ritual, she’d known that her grandfather had a gift for his daughter, too. He’d spent so much time marking it out, translating the instructions into simple terms and even drawing clear diagrams. All the words were sounded out in bright red ink. It couldn’t be simpler.

The sea-king’s summoning spell, the note beside the illegible title had read. That was exactly what they needed. If the lazy old dolphins wouldn’t come out and play for Clara or her mother, she was sure they wouldn’t ignore a summons from the sea-king himself, whoever he might be.

She hadn’t fully believed that it would work, of course, when she’d tried it. It had just been something to do. She was a bit old to believe in fairy tales, after all. Not all the way.

But she’d…felt something, something rising up from deep inside and beneath her. She’d seen the candles gutter green and then sputter out. She might have imagined what she’d thought she’d felt, but she knew that candles didn’t look like that when they just blew out.

And the book…the book had slammed shut and spun around in the center of the circle, just like it was riding on mama’s old record player.

The spell had worked.

It had worked!

And so this night, it was Clara’s turn to scan the horizon as intently as her mother had the nights before.

The dolphins were coming, she knew. They were coming. They’d heard the sea-king’s summons and they would be coming. Her mother’s guidebook didn’t say if the dolphins would come from the left or the right…from the south or the north…so she tried to keep watch in both directions.

“Well, it’s a nice enough night for our last night here,” Clara’s mother was saying. She laid a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Better enjoy the view while it lasts. Look, the sun’s dipping into some haze. Do you think it’ll be swallowed up before we get a proper sunset?”

“I don’t know, I’m watching for dolphins.”

“Clara…I know I said there might be dolphins,” her mother said. “But, honestly, it’s best not to set your heart on it. Sometimes, there are dolphins, but it isn’t something anyone can predict or control.”

“Maybe,” Clara said. She almost decided to tell her mother about the spell then and there, but she thought it would be better if she just let her be surprised.

The dolphins would come by sunset. She’d had that idea fixed in her head when she did the spell, and if she’d only been guessing about how the magic would work, she still had gotten the distinct impression that the message had been received and answered in the affirmative: sunset.

“Just don’t get so fixated on looking for one thing that you miss everything else, okay?” her mother said. “My father…your grandfather…did that, he did that his whole life. He ignored everything else, everyone else, while he went off and searched for…I don’t even know what. I’ve been looking through his files for a week now and I still don’t know what he hoped to find. I just know that he died alone, half-crazed and full of regret. He missed so much of my life, Clara. He missed his own wife’s last years. He missed so much…”

“Jeez, I’m just looking for dolphins, Mom!” Clara said, whirling around and pulling away from the hand on her shoulder. “Will you give it a rest? I’m not going to miss my whole life because I spent one night looking for the stupid dolphins that you wanted to see in the first place!”

“Sorry!” her mother said. “I’m sorry, I…that was probably projecting. This is the first time I’ve been back here since papa’s funeral, and the longest I’ve been here since I was a little girl, and I’ve just…I’ve been feeling and thinking things that I left buried for so long. I shouldn’t have pushed all that off onto you, Clara. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry, Mom,” Clara said. “I didn’t mean to get so mad. I just…I knew you wanted to see dolphins, so I wanted to bring them to you.”

“Oh, honey, you can’t bring someone dolphins,” her mother said, with what sounded like a surprisingly nervous laugh. “They’re wild and free creatures, almost like people themselves. Honey, that’s what makes seeing them so special, you see? They don’t operate on a schedule or come when you call them. You can’t control nature. Believe me, your grandfather wasted his life learning that lesson, if he ever did learn it in the end.”

“Well, I don’t know if he wasted it,” Clara said, as she became dimly aware of a commotion among the other late-lingering beachgoers. “But…”

“What on earth?” her mother said, looking at a point behind her, somewhere out over the water. “What…”

Clara turned to look out to sea. Almost straight out from her, at a point on the horizon and moving on a path perpendicular to the nearest stretch of shore to her, something was moving…several things were moving, racing along the shining silver waters, leaping out of the water as they ran along.

“Dolphins?” Clara said excitedly. Behind the frantically frolicking figures, the sun was sinking into the sea.

“Those aren’t dolphins,” her mother said, then corrected herself. “Those aren’t just dolphins.”

And they weren’t.

There were dolphins, yes, but fish of every size and description raced along beside and ahead of them.

“Are they feeding?” Clara guessed.

“Nah, dolphins don’t hunt like that,” a young woman staring out at the onrushing spectacle said. “They try to surround a school of fish and trap them against the surface of the water, they don’t chase them down like lions hunting gazelles. And look, they’re not trying to catch the fish…they’re breaking ahead of them.”

“What are they doing?” someone else asked. “I thought they were supposed to follow the shore.”

“They’re wild animals, they’re not supposed to do anything,” Clara said. “Right, Mom?”

She looked up at her mother for support, but her budding sense of satisfaction was nipped when she saw the look of pure horror on her face.

“Are they racing?” a man guessed. “Or being chased? Why are they trying to get away from the fish? Don’t dolphins eat fish? I’ve never heard of a fish eating a dolphin.”

“I don’t think it’s the fish that they’re trying to get away from,” the young man said. “What’s that saying? If you and your friend are being chased by a bear, you don’t have to outrun the bear…”

The nearest dolphins weren’t so far from the shore now, and they showed absolutely no sign of slowing or stopping. Clara hardly noticed. Her attention, like everyone else’s, was not on the dolphins but on the rising swell far behind them, behind the stragglers and the leaping schools of fish.

The sun set.

He rose.


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Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.


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April 2016

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