Where You're Not

Short posts written relatively frequently, ostensibly to my brother, sisters, husband, or any combination thereof depending on where I am in relation to them. But dudes, everyone's welcome and I'm honoured if you take an interest.

Travels to the other

Good evening,

This post is brought to you by Two Days Off in a Row, a most splendid happening. Tomorrow will be weekend dragons but dragons tend to be much more relaxed on weekends as that’s when they’re mostly sitting around counting their gold and getting their gnomes to mix them fancy flammable cocktails.

I actually got to travel to Glasgow last week to see the marvelous Frigg in concert at Celtic Connections. They were doing a show with Fiddler’s Bid who were also very good but I was there for Frigg. I bought both the Frigg albums we didn’t have yet.

It was also an excuse to ride the train which took an extra 20 minutes both ways due to diversions which meant it went via Bathgate. I cannot complain. I don’t get to take the train much so it was actually kind of a bonus plus extra reading time. I also went over early so I could walk about for a while and visit multiple secondhand bookshops. I ended up in Kelvingrove Park at one point which I thought wasn’t Kelvingrove Park at the time but it turned out it was a sort of island of Kelvingrove Park, on a hill with a huge statue of Field Marshal Robertson in it. It offered a nice view of a side of the city.

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Barney has gone home to Australia but before he did there was a very nice drinks night out, and we also managed to squeeze in a board game night with him, Phoenicia, her partner Stalwart, and Jalapeno once he got back from his gig. We played this great game Phoenicia has called Mansions of Madness based on Lovecraftian lore. There’s an app to go with the actual physical game that tells you what happens as you play and make certain choices and rolls, and provides background and atmospheric music. It is, all in all, delightful and the best combination of media I’ve seen used in board gaming so far. At one point Stalwart’s character went insane. This manifested in him being unable to speak for the rest of the game.

I’ve finally finished Lanark, and boy do I have mixed feelings about that book.

The kids are all here now and have, most unfortunately, all been struck with a cold since last they were present. Well, actually Vault Boy had his when he left last time. Realism is away in Myanmar but, funnily enough, the post card he sent while he was in Ecuador last September finally arrived today. It has a Blue-Footed Booby on it.

We had Storm the Palace practice on Wednesday night, followed by food/drinks at the local and 20 questions with the drummer. He took it well. We had less luck getting the pub dog to hang about with us. Dogs in pubs always have an agenda, and who can blame them?

Today I visited Cavalry and Calypso whilst I was about town and Calypso has kindly loaned me Cloud Atlas to read, a book I’ve been eyeing for years. Also featured; a genuine Roman pin, (for holding a cloak shut maybe?) amazingly well-preserved, and a Norman Rockwell themed redecoration.

Last night I skyped Mom, the Hannimal, and baby Skidbear who actually smiled twice and only gurned a bit.

Early weekend

We had actual snow again today in Edinburgh but I think it’s mostly shuffled off now leaving the sidewalks icy and exciting. Dangerous Beans is most displeased.

I have been enjoying the Lavender Oolong tea which Hagg-Bag gave me for Christmas.

There were some chatty dragons on Thursday who were asking how they were supposed to get pegasii to stop  by their houses to collect parcels for return. We explained they have to leave a little pile of carrots outside their house in the shape of a bust of Bellerophon* and then the pegasii be drawn to the house without knowing why and will pick up the parcel after eating the carrots.

On Friday I met up with Cavalry for coffee and chat at the National Library and we both made it back to our respective homes after that despite the lashing wind and rain. Jalapeno had a gig in Glasgow on Friday night so he got back from that around 3 a.m.

There was musical practice of various sorts as well. Scrimmy Bingus has suddenly taken an interest in the electric guitar. She’s reached that phase in life where she’s realised it would actually be super cool now if she’d stuck with trying to learn an instrument when she was little. After the kids were in bed I stayed up reading and listening to Hamilton.

On Saturday morning Renaissance and Ellipsoid came over for brunch. It was very tasty and I only burned one round of bacon. I’m a bit disturbed by how much I enjoy black pudding but it does taste damned good. We played Code Names (a most excellent game even if you do have a 12 year old who gets far too worked up over how the rules must go) then went for an afternoon’s perambulation to inspect the swan pond in the park which mostly had gulls and ice on it.

In the evening I saw a delightful wee comedy film, Lost in Paris. It’s only 80 minutes long and it’s wonderful, quirky, and lighthearted. It’s about a Canadian librarian who goes to Paris to help her aunt. Here’s a trailer  but it’s even better than the trailer makes it look. Please see it if you get the opportunity.

Today it was back to work. Tomorrow too but in the morning I’ve a stringed instrument lesson from Radio, who will remind me that capo is pronounced ‘cap-oh’ not ‘cape-oh’ in the UK. Or, to quote him precisely, “In Romeo and Juliet it’s the Montagues and the CAPulets, not the CAPEulets.”

And with that I leave you.

 

*I almost said Alexander the Great. If I start mixing up Bucephalus and Pegasus I’ll offend them and start getting haunted by the ghosts of magnificent, sometimes winged, horses.

 

 

Fresh Days

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

We’ve made it through the holidays here with only mildly ridiculous amounts of recycling. Christmas was overall a quiet affair, largely due to the fact that I bought Jalapeño the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Christmas. He’s quite lost to me now but he still cooks dinner so all is well. He hasn’t even gotten to Dragon Age Inquisition yet. He got me the rest of the annotated The Sandman graphic novel series which is amazing and beautiful and weighs a ton.

Hogmanay this year was frankly the best New Year I’ve ever had. There was a rooftop party with a splendid view of the fireworks display over the castle, and a classic film-like* after party until the very wee hours. This was all thanks to Sartorial and Rapid and Sartorial’s tolerant parents upon whose roof we partied before moving the party to Sartorial and Rapid’s flat. We were lucky to have Esse and Silver join us. They journeyed all the way over from Montreal to spend the first week of the new year with us.

The day after was not the best I’d ever had but I made it through work and as it was New Year’s Day there were very few  dragons calling. This is all to the good as hungover dragons are very tough to deal with.

Esse and Silver had fun times seeing the sights, didn’t mind our air mattress, and got to hit up the Stockbridge charity shops. It was also a respite from the stunning cold in Canada. There was much craft beer drinking as well. The kids all seriously enjoyed having (good-natured and tolerant, thanks guys!) guests too and we had lots of pretty stellar runs at various board games. There was a session at Sandy Bell’s as well where Esse was recognised due to Youtube fame and fine tunes were had by all. We got to First-foot Renaissance and Ellipsoid on New Year’s Day  which is an excellent Scottish tradition. Read more about it here.

Since then time has passed in a blur for me personally between work, practising, reading and trying to be a polite and sociable creature. Oh, I did manage to catch up with Cavalry and Calypso on Christmas Eve though, and Goldsmith and Animate as well. Even bumped into Cavalry again on my walk back from work the other night.

We have both lost from and added to the D&D crew. We are sad to see Barney the feisty gnome depart our party as he has to move back to Australia due to various reasons. He has been a most excellent mentor while teaching me how to be a Dungeon Master. However, we welcome aboard Bill, the dragonborn Paladin. He’s already saved the party once. Actually, the party saved the party but he was the catalyst for the saving. Barney, alas, went insane at the end of the last session but his tale is not yet done . . .

At Ancient Spren things have been busy, as you might imagine. Christmas was full of singed ears as angry dragons contacted about orders of armor and jewels that were lost in the mail, or delayed, or simply not right. The pegasii** have been working their wings off.

On the other hand, a lovely dragon I spoke to the other day quite cheerfully told me herself that while she was in Spain she was stopped everyday and complimented on her bright blue armor. I’ve also spoken to a lot of very nice and polite French and Swedish dragons lately.

And look, it snowed last night! It’s mostly gone now but here’s proof it can happen in Edinburgh.

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Meanwhile, as I  mentioned on The Facebook, if you’re looking for some fun, well-written, feminist fantasy please go here. Rogue has created another wonderful world which mirrors our own except it’s better because Things can be Fixed + magic and lots of animals.

By the way, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a very good film. Highly recommend. It’s a dark comedy that’s more dark than comedy though so be in that frame of mind.

I’m currently reading my way through these guys:

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From left to right: Annotated Sandman because it’s amazing and you wouldn’t believe, (actually you probably would) the amount of research and thought Gaiman put into it. So many references and homages, the bibliography is greatly expanding my reading list.

A Place of Greater Safety because I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies so much. Mantel is one of my heroes for combining very fine writing and incredibly believable and in-depth characters. As one might guess from the cover it’s about the French Revolution, or perhaps more accurately the main players in creating it. Very different from the court of Henry the VIII but a character has already referred to Cromwell in passing.

Which brings me to Lanark, I book  I stumbled into due to a conversation at work with a colleague as well as some comments from Realism and generally the fact it’s been sitting on the shelf here for years and the spine kind of stares at you (literally). It’s very strange but so far I like it more than I expected. Gray writes about being a child in a way that captures it better then most, what it felt like to be kind of confused but happy and accepting of most things whether fantasy or not. That’s how my childhood felt as far as I recall.

Realism, by the way, is currently prepping for a trip to Myanmar at the end of this month. (Only he keeps calling it Burma but we’ll let that go).

We’ve skyped Vermontland several times. The winter is being very unpredictable and there have been many snow days there. The Hannimal has been taking Skidbear on regular walks to make sure she grows a thick winter coat. The Owedazzler is as much a mystery as always, and Mom and Dad are already planning ahead for the summer and doing lots of music. (Fifth Business are recording another album!)

Lastly, here’s a picture of Dangerous Beans listening to me practice bass scales. This is her bass face.

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(Ah, Mom, the blackbird ornament has not made it back into the Christmas boxes. I think it’s set to become a permanent fixture).

I think she genuinely enjoys the sound (or feeling, possibly) of the low notes because she definitely doesn’t sit around with that expression on when I’m playing the pipes.

 

 

*I say “film-like” because there was alcohol, music, dancing, singing, good people, and the flat could be from almost any 19th-21st century Golden Age if you just hid a few things. It was the closest I’ve been to a Gatsby party.

**Jalapeño and I are in disagreement^ about how to pluralize “Pegasus” (and I am aware it’s a proper name which I’m already mis-using, but one may as well go the whole hog). He thinks it should be “pegasuses,” but that just sounds dreadful so “pegasii” it is.

^This is nothing to our disagreement concerning the bass clef and whether or not it’s necessary for anyone not playing the piano.

 

 

 

 

 

HOJJ – A fuzzy montage

Howdy! I hope everyone is being pushed along to the Christmas time more or less willingly. I have to be at work at 6:55 tomorrow so this will be short.

Firstly, I have some accumulated photos. A couple weeks ago, the marvelous Moonshine and Jumping Bean were over for a few days. There was much walking, some whisky tasting, lots of good food (macarons!), and good crack (or craic. Honestly, if you ask Jalapeno which is the correct spelling he’ll give you a lecture about Irish culture and etymology versus Scottish and how ‘craic’ shouldn’t technically be used by people who don’t speak Irish), as they say in this country. Here is a picture of them.

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I have of course spectacularly failed to capture the towering Gothic grandeur of Saint Giles’ Cathedral, and Moonshine and Jumping Bean’s feet, nor indeed have I managed to focus the camera, but hey, don’t they look like fun?

I went to Ireland a while ago for a weekend of flute classes/performances under the very kind auspices of Star and Jet who were in their usual cottage. The cottage has this lovely new edition, Lulu:

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Actually, she’s technically a farm cat but she gets inside a lot. Patch and Podge the farm dogs are still there too but I didn’t manage to get a picture of them, an oversight on my part.

It was fantastic seeing Star and Jet again, especially as they recently got through Hurricane Adventures. The music was very good too, naturally. In terms of lessons, mainly I have to remember to breathe while playing.

Here is the sea trying to sneak up on Ireland.

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And here’s a majestical Irish castle.

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This weekend I finally saw Justice League in the company of Sartorial who, despite her vigilante work of the night before, managed to stay awake during the fight scenes much better than I did. There were some fun jokes in it though.

I also saw Eyes Wide Shut on Friday which was a tad anticlimactic, as it were . . .

We have a real Christmas tree this year but, shockingly, we not longer have enough ornaments. I’ve never been in this position before and frankly, I’m uncertain what to do. I mean the tree looks nice, it’s has lights and sparkles, but we definitely must up our ornament game for next year.

Congratulations are due to Batman and the Hannimal who have little baby Skidbear now. I haven’t any new photees of her but I’m sure some will come along.

But here’s a fuzzy picture of Dangerous Beans contemplating  the robot lizard.

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On a Christmasy note, this year the building across from my place of work turns into a huge advent calendar when night falls (at 15:30). From some rooftop they’re projecting advent doors onto the windows, and in between they play videos of giant animated people unwrapping the building, then do a little video of a loop of time passing in iconic moments.

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And lastly, here is Hagg-Bag’s Christmas card.

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It is indeed Baby Jesus projectile vomiting on Mary.

In Memoriam

This post is for Sadie Ruth Wallace.

Stillborn on November 14th, 2017, daughter of my friends Renaissance and Ellipsoid.

 

Dear Sadie,

Your family is gathered around a tear in time.

It’s actually a chasm. Invisible, but more vast than the mind can comprehend.

The fabric that is missing was woven of love, anticipation, expectation, plans and hopes, but mostly love.

Right now there are so many raw edges. Loose threads that burn to the touch where other strands try to unravel.

That is okay.

At some point the loose threads will be slowly, gently, hemmed and softened. The new fabric will feel different. Perhaps a shade darker, a touch stronger.

So take your blanket, Sadie, made of mostly love, and stay warm and safe on your next adventure.

HOJ – Things in pencil

As last night was Bonfire night, we had one. We had it early due to kids having school the next day and it was nothing like the festivities taking place in Mosquitoville, VT but it was a mighty blaze.

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That’s how Realism gets rid of fallen branches.

There were also fireworks displays all over the city. Ones done by people who knew what they were doing, and ones done by people who were, just for example, singeing the leg hairs of unlucky passersby on Leith Walk. (Not speaking from experience but from the stories shared by those who were there). On the whole though, the city seems to have made it through unscathed. (I think).

Hagg-Bag has started producing and writing his own comic book series. Bob and Blob. (Edit: Turns out it’s actually called Crab). It’s alarmingly similar to a series the Owedazzler created back when he was the same age. Bob, who seems generally to be the main character, has hair like Marge Simpson. Other creatures/characters wander through as well. There’s definitely a heavy influence from The Book of Bunny Suicides. There tends to be a high presence of things like chainsaws, guns, and disembodied cat heads.

The cover of the one I was looking at today featured two dinosaurs doing something. Upon questioning Hagg-Bag as to what exactly was going on he told me it was a Brontosaurus and a Velociraptor, the former being eaten by the latter. I asked him why the Brontosaurus was smiling if that was the case to which he replied, with a cynical twinkle in his eye. “It’s a kids’ comic, everyone smiles in kids’ comics.” Being the young entrepreneur that he is he’s selling copies of it to his classmates for 10p. (20p if you buy the special edition).

HOJ – Biding

Hello, hello, welcome back. Although I suppose I’m not the one who should be saying that.

It’s been a very busy month and a bit here. Some things that have happened . . .  Lots of singing, (Storm the Palace, yay!) lots of practicing. Jalpeno and I went to see Tori Amos perform in Glasgow which was awesome. She can play two pianos at once while singing and of course sounds brilliant.

There was so much more but I have been working or tired for a lot of it so cannot necessarily remember it very well. It’s been fun though.

I had a short piping gig where the guy who hired me didn’t know where the restaurant he wanted to march into was in the hotel so we did a nice tour of two floors before he finally realized he should have followed me in the first place.

We had a baby shower for Renaissance which was excellent and involved Magic Mike.

Dangerous Beans has been very busy dominating the neighbourhood and escorted me on a small portion of my walk back from town today. She kept hiding behind hedges and under cars and jumping out at me then running away with her tail all excited.

Huge congratulations to Rogue who is publishing her first book! You can find it HERE. Read and review, peeps! (Spoiler: It’s good).

The dragons at Ancient Spren have been getting into Christmas mode. We had our big designer collaboration launch the other day and the armor sold out in a matter of hours. Only a few security guys got fried trying to control the queues outside our stores. I was lucky and didn’t have to speak to any of the dragons in question. The other day I was talking to a rather nice lady dragon whose pet cat kept walking across her keyboard, making her already difficult typing trickier, and meowing loudly at inopportune times. I don’t suppose it comes as a surprise that cats and dragons get along well.

We have been having trouble with our delivery pegasii in France. They keep picking random drop-off points hours away from where the dragons requested the parcels be delivered and then refusing to retrieve them. We may have to bribe them with magic bean dust but then the majority of them will become addicted and, well, we know how that ended last time . . .

Here’s a picture of the view from the top-(ish) of New Town. It’s actually the Kingdom of Fife you can see beyond that church tower but my phone camera isn’t strong enough to really make that clear. It was a lovely fall day.

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HOJ – Portraits and gas masks

Howdy!

Mostly photees today, folks. Jalapeno and I had a marvelous time in Dubrovnik. I managed to get a tremendous cold halfway through but the whole point of holidays is that you have time to nap, right? So that helped. Fortunately, Jalapeno had just started a very engrossing series of books.

We met the nicest nun in the world on our last day. She gave us a tour of the ancient Franciscan monastery and gently urged me to copy out a Mother Teresa quote while I waited for Jalapeno to run and make change so I did. The monastery was pretty neat. It’s survived a lot and Jalapeno has all the photos of it but I may nab them from him later. My other favourite thing was walking around the city walls. I must got watch GoT again so I can spot all the buildings I might now recognize. Onward with pics! Some terrible and some passable.

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Every night, except when it poured, this classical guitarist sat right out in front of the cathedral busking and we were able to enjoy his rather good playing.

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Here’s a picture of Jalapeno, I was trying to catch his hair being majestic while we were on the wall.

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Here’s Jalapeno after having been up all night flying but you wouldn’t know it from this picture. (It’s because he has beer).

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Here’s a happy dragon climbing out of Jalapeno’s beer.

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I don’t know if these are just ruins from general time or ruins from the shelling of Dubrovnik in the 90s.

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Here’s the bickering chicken couple beer label.

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And last, but certainly not least, the very strange painting that was hung over the bed in our apartment.

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Our trip back was prolonged when I got stuck in the Non-EU passport holders’ queue for 1hr 40 mins, almost exactly the time of our layover, and we missed our connection. When I finally went up to the desk the dude told me I could have gone through with Jalapeno who had gotten through approximately 1hr and 40 mins ago. No one has told me that before while going back into the UK. As usual, SCREW YOU BORDER AGENCY.

Anyway, a nice young lady working for British Airways got us onto a much later flight and that all worked out but then our luggage failed to make it so arrived late yesterday afternoon. Totally worth all that thought, an excellent trip overall.

Today was the Glasgow comic con to which Jalapeno and the kids went. Scrimmy Bingus and Hagg-Bag had excellent costumes. Hagg-Bag went as the creepy gas mask kid from that Doctor Who episode and Scrimmy Bingus went as an anime character. I will see if I can do photos in the next post. Hagg-Bag is now the proud owner of a pocket watch.

I, meanwhile, played lots of music then went to the exhibit of Scottish Victorian photography in the Portrait Gallery as it’s only there for one more week. It was very fine and even displayed some of the Victorian sense of humor, a rare and shy beast if ever there was one.

Lastly, here’s a picture of a) Sleeping Beans who fears no Tauntaun.

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And b) Beans and her apples.

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HOJ – Hiding in books

Good evening, or afternoon, or something completely different if you’re one of our faithful readers in Japan or Mongolia.

It’s a very cozy sort of night here as it’s bucketing down quite merrily outside. If Piglet was here he would certainly be frightened, though not nearly as frightened as he would be down south in the US. I only mention Piglet because they’ve started advertising for the film about Christopher Robin on the buses here.

Speaking of films, I’m reading a really fun book right now called Eureka, by an author I’d not known of before called Anthony Quinn. (Not to be mistaken with Anthony J Quinn who appears to write Irish crime novels). Eureka is about a crew of people making a film in London in the 60s, a film based on The Figure in the Carpet, by Henry James. As it’s about films and the 60s, two things I’m quite interested in, it was bound to work out well but I’m getting through it far too fast. Brain candy. One of the main characters is a very self-absorbed writer and I’m quite keen to see if he has any personal revelations about his character or simply carries on as is to the end.

Jalapeno and I had a nice catch-up with Rapid last week in the pub. Sartorial was unable to make it being exhausted from her own struggles with mythical beast all week so I’ve been dissecting her songs with her via email instead.

Jalapeno and I got to visit Tomorrow and Kajsa in their new flat which is in an amazing house built way back when. I think Thomas Cromwell was still alive when it was built. Also, Tomorrow made 4 pizzas, each unique and delicious.

Dangerous Beans had to go to the vet today. She’s been unusually itchy and was starting to develop a hotspot so in she went. The vet thinks she was bitten by a berry bug. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Apparently Frontline doesn’t bother them and one bite can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in the bitten. Beans had to have a shot of steroids and we’ll see if that does the trick. A berry bug though, honestly. I can’t believe that’s a real thing.

Renaissance was able to come over for lunch on Sunday and catch up with Jalapeno and the kids and I was able to spread the joy that is watching Mozart in the Jungle. Renaissance was very tolerant of all the (mostly ridiculous) baby names we were suggesting. The kids got very into that game.

The Thesibeast has been driven into a holding pen and contained with a nosebag to distract it. The Hannimal is waiting for comments from above and continues to grow Tiny Hannimal with great skill while prepping for the killing blow that will finish off the Thesibeast.

The Owedazzler is doubtless up to many thing but lord knows what.

I’ve been writing and practising things by turns but working early shifts at Ancient Spren all week always cuts into things.

We’ve had some raging dragons taking to social media lately. They get extra upset whenever they use social media because their claws just aren’t designed for keyboards so if they weren’t frustrated to start with they sure are by the time they finish the post. The smart ones have their gnomes type for them of course.

One dragon accidentally set fire to herself with one of our War Sandals (TM) the other day. You wouldn’t think a dragon would be upset about that but there you go. Another straight up asked us if we would give him free stuff because he liked us so much. He was a Rackety Puffer, that breed is always a bit dodgy but not usually so blatant.

We’ve launched a new brand recently catering to your Society Dragon and boy has that been rough. A lot of dragons have contacted saying they returned a bunch of silver bowls or what have you because they were too small for their claws etc. and why have they only been refunded for one of them? That of course is my cue to contact the gremlins that run and maintain the computer system and say, “Yes, why haven’t they been refunded for all of them?” Last time I had to do this I caught the gremlins literally sitting around on a motherboard drinking tea. They said it was fine because they’re tiny (the size of the nail on your little finger) and they, (the implication being, Unlike Me) know how to clean up after themselves afterwards so nothing starts smoking or just blows up.

No dragons next week though. Jalapeno and I are off to Croatia on Friday for a holiday. Whoo! King’s Landing, here we come!

 

HOJ – A New Angle

Greetings!

Welcome to a damp but not too cold yet Scottish day. The Festival is done much to the city’s relief. As usual it ended with the magnificent fireworks over the castle set to live music. Renaissance and Ellipsoid kindly invited me to a viewing from their balcony again. We had a good time and ate a lot of berries.

Weekend before this here one that just went by, Jalapeno and I hit up the coast on Dunbar whilst Hagg-Bag attended a survival birthday party of a pal of his. (It involved things like chasing herds of kids through the water and menacing them with large mechanical dinosaurs while they tried to balance on thin ropes over rushing rivers. I mean, I’m just guessing).

So I got some nice photos of Dunbar.

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No idea who the family in this pic is but they wandered into my shot.

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Below, Jalapeno takes off, back to the water!IMAG1643IMAG1641

Look at them layas!

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That round stone structure you can see in the distance in a couple pics is the remains of a castle which apparently Mary Queen of Scots stayed in at one point. Then some bigwigs ordered it to be dismantled.

On Wednesday I went to a very nice wee session at the Ensign Ewart led by Reliant, fiddle player extraordinaire, and Dash of the 12 string guitar. Bramble was able to make it too and we all got lots of free drinks from keen listeners. We had a lovely time and met a very enthusiastic tourist from Germany and a very drunk tourist from England. The latter stayed until the bitter end, at which point he revealed himself to be a fervent pro-Brexit type who was vehemently against an independent Scotland. Bramble and I lost him by fleeing down a close on the way home.

Memoir, alas, has had to return to the States, though it looks like she’s getting to hang out with some very nice trees so that’s something anyway.

On Friday I went to another session at Sandy Bell’s, Narrative’s. That was great fun and Crown, whom I hadn’t seen in ages, turned up and did some singing. I’ve got many more additions to my ‘to-learn’ list of tunes and finally played the flute and was not hyperventilating by the end as has tended to happen previously whenever I try to keep up with pros whilst playing it.

Last night I took Jalapeno out for his (somewhat late) birthday dinner. We’ve discovered a lovely new local restaurant. Oh, and I’ve finally been able to give Jalapeno his big birthday gift, which is tix to see Tori Amos come October. Slightly self-serving but should be a good time.

Mom and Dad have are having fun with kitten Rosie Cotton who apparently likes to climb up the Hannimal’s back and help her Skype Batman. I’ve been told she has an adorable squeak for a mew. Hecky dog is very concerned about her every movement.

As you may be aware I’ve been working a lot lately since February which is tricky because I can’t really discuss it in the blog yet it takes up so much time. So I have decided to turn to the realms of fiction.

Ancient Spren, as I’m sure most of you know, is the only company specializing in providing top notch affordable gold and jewels for dragons around the world. As our tagline, “Don’t kill for it. We’ll bill for it!” suggests, fighting and looting for your hoard are passé  activities which no right-thinking dragon with a claw on the pulse of culture would dream of partaking in these days. Ancient Spren is there to help.

I’m involved in the part where things go wrong. Mostly, it’s all right. Once in a while of course, someone’s ear gets melted. How dragon fire can travel over a mobile signal, bounce off multiple satellites, and still get through a computer and out through a headset is a facet of dragon magic we don’t yet understand, but it comes with the job.

Just last week we had two dragons in different countries receive each other’s orders. One had ordered a box of goblets set with rubies. One had ordered one of our latest golden skull  candle holders. Now, the one who received the skull holder was very nice about it, burbled away about how she loves us humans and how nice we are and the company is great but could we please send a pegasus to pick this up?* The other was somewhat more, ehm, smoky, and you could hear her gnomes, (always the faithful servants of dragons) calling out for more wine and offering her scale rubs to calm her down while she spoke with us. She almost challenged the other dragon to a duel but, since our customers’ safety is our top priority+, we made sure to talk her down from that by throwing in a free maiden with her next order. (The dragon in question was a tad archaic).

Yesterday we had a dragon call while she was shopping in one of our caves in London. She was raging over her attempts to return a silver-plated bowl which she claims she’d been led to believe was pure silver, (fine print dragons, fine print) while basically threatening to burn all the humans to crisps, which she said she was then going to have deep-fried. Gross. After much back and forth between myself and the humans working in the cave, the one in charge there declared she would don her armor and settle things the old-fashioned way. Sometimes it cannot be helped which is why we have a clause for this sort of thing in our T&Cs++.

So I’m off to work in a few minutes here and shall hopefully return from it with all ears intact. At least Barney, Ethel and Lesra will be figh- er, working, by my side.

*Obviously, we first had to have her sign the declaration of Trust and Creature Safety and have her email us a picture of it so we knew she wouldn’t eat the pegasus on arrival. Calm your PETAS.

+See below

++It’s allowed due to a loophole in the 1574  treatise on Self-Defense in the face of Extremely Shite and Flammable Attitudes which was the basis for the law passed in 1600.