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7 March 2012

We did get gales that Saturday – and rain. About two and a quarter inches in 30 hours. But the gales weren’t the ones we CAN get, which often run to 130k. I’d have been surprised if they were over 110k here this time. However while we may not have been getting a beating others certainly were. Trees down, roofs off, flooding, a firefighter injured, and a lot of people left twitching.
I’d moved the sheep undercover and they were fine, the geese had considered the weather and all vanished into the woodshed, the hens into the hay barn, and the calves were down in the lee of the hill.
Then too I’d scurried out as soon as the drizzle began around 3pm Saturday and filled the cat TV tin. That’s the large cake tin nailed on the fence with perches either side. Thunder sits in the front window and watches it very happily for hours if the birds are coming and going – and with it filled, they were. That way, with it loaded, the multitude of finches, magpies, starlings, thrushes, sparrows, tuis, bellbirds, and assorted others of the flying feathered community, all had full tummies by the time temperatures dropped solidly and the winds began. They went off to bed early and slept through until morning when the wind had already died down again and the rain was back to flurries. This suited both parties. They don’t get killed trying to forage through the storm because they’re still starving, and I don’t have to see the pathetic little bodies.

1 March 2012

I checked my spam box before starting on blog items this morning, deleted 53 comments, and it occurred to me to wonder why people bother. It’s abundantly clear that those who “comment” on my various articles and updates etc. haven’t read them, aren’t interested, and wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap. A friend tells me that they do this because having been cleared to comment once, they are then able to log in and comment on anything at that site for evermore. That puzzles me. Surely there would be a mechanism on any site to stop that, like unfriending on facebook?
And if there is such a mechanism, then surely it still isn’t worth their time to keep checking the site to see if they can upload some publicity for whatver they’re pushing? Don’t these people have anything better to do with their time? And if they’re doing it because they’re paid, doesn’t the employer have anything better to do with his money? There are times when the internet and some of its population baffle me!

Kathleen Sky (born Kathleen Mckinney, August 5, 1943) is Kathleen Mckinney Goldin. From 1972 to 1982 she was married to fellow author/collaborator Stephen Goldin. Her pen name is her former married name from her marriage to first husband Karl Sky. She appeared as an Enterprise crewmember in Star Trek: The motion picture.
Kathleen Sky has a small but well-written line-up of work. Both of her ST books were good additions to the Star Trek line, her two short novels from Laser Books were pleasant work, and Witchdame was an odd and interesting volume. The background for this novel is an alternate Great Britain inhabited by three races, the woodwitches, the Witchlords, and humans.
Princess Elizabeth is witchlord blood from her father, King Richard’s, side, and a woodwitch on her mother, Queen Dianne’s, side. Elizabeth is heartily disliked by the king’s mistress, Lady Anne Pemberthy, disregarded by the court, and although an experienced warrior, is labelled ‘that great gawk’ by most around the throne. Her initiation into the Great Rite on her 18th birthday is spectacular, and as a birthday boon she asks permission from her father to go on a quest to the four corners of his kingdom to see how things fare with the people. In fact they don’t fare at all well, since Queen Dianne on her deathbed cursed her unfaithful husband with impotence and the health of the king is the health of the land.
This book is a mixture of alternate history, Wicca, and Paganism: that nevertheless manages to blend into a very satisfying whole. The Englene that appears in the pages of this book is a fascinating place, with the occasional dragon, mages, saints, jesters, minstrels, an evil sorceress or two – and a number of angels who wander in and out of events.
I would have wished for it to be two or three chapters longer. I’d have liked to know what Elizabeth did to Lady Anne when the king was dead, what the court jester. Jackie Somers, did next, and if Elizabeth fulfilled several promises made to various characters in the book – alternatively a second book covering all that would have been even better. But once again, this was what readers received and I was duly thankful.
Sky’s first books, Birthright and Ice Prison were set in a completely different universe from her other works. The final of her works, The Star Rooks, was first done as two novelettes set in the same universe. They concern interstellar con-artists, Chandra and Jad diMedici, and a detective trying to pin them down. His job is extremely difficult however because the diMedicis have very twisted and ingenious imaginations.
Her then husband, Stephen Goldin, and Kathleen Sky jointly created this duo of stories, as I understand it, together designing the characters and situations. The stories were originally published separately in limited circulation magazines, and were not reprinted until reissued as a single e-chapbook by Embidd.
They are now available separately in various e-formats. I recommend Witchdame for fantasy lovers certainly, and ST lovers should enjoy the two ST novels. Another friend says that the Laser books too are very readable.

Bibliography

Novels:
Birthright (1975) Laser Book
Ice Prison (1976) Laser Book
Vulcan! reissued as Star Trek Adventures 11: Vulcan! (Bantam Books, September 1978, Titan Books reissue, April 20, 1995, Spectra October 6, 1998,
Death’s Angel, reissued as Star Trek Adventures 10: Death’s Angel (Bantam Books, April 1981, Titan Books reissue, February 15, 1994, Spectra reissue, May 1, 1995.
Star Rooks (copyright 1980; published as January 2004 ebook by Embiid Publishing, (with Stephen Goldin)
Witchdame (1984)

Short stories:
“One Ordinary Day, with Box” (1972)
“Lament of the Keeku Bird” (1973)
“Door to Malequar” (1975)
“Motherbeast” (1978)

Currently it’s Friday lunchtime and the above is exactly what I’m doing. We can get ferocious storms in our area. The forecasts several days ago started suggesting that much of our North island was about to get something of unusual intensity, and that we should prepare.
I’ve prepared.
I’ve moved all my sheep and lambs onto the lawn where they and the hens and geese can shelter in the (almost empty) woodshed or hay barn.
This storm is said to be coming from the north and if that’s so we should be fine. It’s the direction least likely to do major damage, and if, as they say, it will later swing south, that too is a safer direction for us. Not sure when we’re getting it, forecasts have ranged from early hours Saturday morning, through to late morning, and then too, while we usually have ferocious storms when others aren’t gettng them, now and then one that’s forecast like this for much of the North island, isn’t so bad here. I hope that’s so this time.
And no, I’m not exactly a pessimist. But last time we had a storm as bad as this one is forecast to be, my large covered sheepyards were torn to bits, said bits being well spread about my place in the form of sheets of the corrugated iron roof which whirled about like lethal frisbees.
If we just get fairly high winds I’ll be happy, if we get the real McCoy that’s promised, all the creatures should be okay, Thunder and I should be too, and I’ll be back…

2.30pm actually I’m back a long way before the storm. Everyone else seems to have that on their minds as well. Thunder (my Ocicat) has been going out, coming back in and bellowing to be fed. I get the impression he’s worried in case the storm’s arrival means “no food” and he’s stoking up in advance.
I’d just fed him, settled back to blog again, when I glanced up to see a truck driving through the front gate. Since the sheep are on the lawn I went flying out to make sure that was where they stayed – and to see who was arriving. Some of my prepaid firewood is now stacked under the side trees. The chap who provides it was worried in case the coming storm left the land where the wood is, too wet for him to haul it out and I might need it if things got really cold after the storm. So it’s arrived early.
Not that any of this is a storm guarantee. That cat will demand food at any time of the day on any excuse at all. And the firewood chap is just being cautious and conscientious. After which I took another brief break to feed the hens and geese, and bring in the mail. Local paper’s latest forecast seems to suggest that the storm may not be as bad in this area as has been suggested. I hope they’re right.

I was delighted to get an email recently to say that my story, OPENER OF DOORS, has been accepted. The Mystical Cat anthology is the perfect place for the work to alight (since it’s all about a women and her cat and this is the work that won the 2011 Muse medallion) and I look forward to seeing the anthology when it appears.

Reviewed by Steve Johnson.
I like a good mystery, and I like short stories, so I was looking forward to this anthology since Lyn said I could review her author copy and that meant reading it first. It’s funny how tastes differ. Lyn makes a small pencil mark on her anthologies, alongside the stories she particularly likes. And it’s interesting to see that our tastes don’t overlap much but we like about the same number of stories in any anthology – go figure. In this one she liked ten and I liked nine, but the only overlap was hers and Warren Bulls’.
So I liked The Last Gift From My Father because it resonated. It had all the right fairytale elements, an exchange of blood that gives a gift, the mysterious forest, a strange artifact, and enlightenment. It was a solid satisfying read. I liked Lyn’s story for similar reasons, she used a string of New Zealand icons to take the story to Los Angeles and make it relevant there too.
Then there was The Real Killer. The main character was ambiguous, I wasn’t sure if it really was a kid or just someone who sounded that way, the relatives were genuinely unpleasant, and it was a neat ending that made me grin. Done to death by a pea who’d a thunk it. The Reopened Cask was a nice riff on Poe. Parting Gift had a wicked ending, and Nightmare caught me by surprise, I didn’t see that conclusion coming. Venom was really interesting, it kept coming up with another new twist and kept me involved to the last word. Client Pieces and On The Fourth Day both amused me, the former took life in a government office and added a very believable twist, the latter managed to be both credible SF and slightly surreal at the same time.
Of all the Whortleberry anthologies I’ve read I liked this the most. Good stories, and again the presentation, layout, and story order was professional.

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