Category Archives: Fantasy


I’m not sure what I looked at online in November that caused “Build Your Own Stonehenge” to start popping up as side ads on my pc.  It looked cute and I already have a “Build Your Own Carcasonne” from a trip years ago.  Then I made the ultimate mistake – I clicked on the ad.  It was smaller than I thought and cheaper.  Both good things.

I put it on my list for the holidays, not expecting to get it; YA doesn’t always humor my eccentricities.  When I unwrapped it on Solstice, I’d kind of forgotten about it, to tell the truth.  It was much easier to put together than I had expected; all the standing stones and bluestones had numbers on the bottom that corresponded to marks on the earthwork piece.  (I had a layout of Stonehenge pulled up on the internet in case I had to figure it out myself.) After I laid it out once, I hot glued everything down.  I think it’s adorable; YA isn’t impressed.  It’s living in my studio now, next to my miniature castle.  I wonder what other “build your own” project will attract my attention next.

Have you ever built a model of anything?

Odd Couples

Husband drives to Bismarck for work every Tuesday night, and returns home Wednesday night. He is usually pretty tired on both drives, and cranks up music on the radio to keep himself awake.

The other night he listened to the Sinatra station, and heard what he thought was one of the oddest duets he ever heard. It featured Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin singing What Now, My Love.

I have to agree with husband that this is quite weird. I can’t imagine what possessed the Queen of Soul to sing that with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Their styles are so different and not really compatible. Sort of like Ozzy Osbourne singing gospel music with Amy Grant.

What music keeps you awake when you drive? What are your favorite duets? What are some duets you wouldn’t want to hear?

Bah Humbug Day!

“He lived in chambers that had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again.”

One of my favorite metaphors from one of my favorite books – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Most years I try to re-read this little classic some time in December.  It’s a quick, satisfying read – a great story of redemption if ever there was one!

Yesterday was the anniversary of the publication (1843).  For the first time in my memory, I had an absolute day of leisure.  Past years I either had to work or I was deep into party prep; with the party behind me (it was wonderful!) and new to my retirement, this year is different.  I decided to celebrate by watching every movie of A Christmas Carol that I like (there are more than you can imagine and I don’t like them all).

I didn’t plan my viewing schedule ahead of time… just went with the mood of the moment whenever one ended and it was time to select the next.  Started with the Reginal Owen/Gene Lockhart version then headed into the Alistair Sim version.  Needed a little lighter fare after that so did Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.  George C Scott was next followed by Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  Patrick Stewart was next, then Scrooged with Albert Finney, rounded off by The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. 

Thought about American Christmas Carol with Henry Winkler but just wasn’t up for it after 10 hours of Charles Dickens.  I don’t know if I’ll celebrate this way next year but it was a relaxing and enjoyable day for me.

If you had a free day to celebrate/commemorate something, what would it be?  And how would you like to celebrate?

Spa Day

Our puppy went to the groomer today. The groomer said he did splendidly, and was easy to work with. She did a really good job with him, and studied the photos and literature I gave her on Cesky terriers. She did a really good job on his beard today. His fur is turning more and more platinum. He started out as completely black as a newborn.

He has been so happy and relaxed since we got him home. I guess he liked all the attention and cossetting and brushing. It was a spa day for him. I have never been to a spa. I have never had a massage or a pedicure or manicure. I don’t know how I would react having someone so close and personal.

Kyrill told me that he was so handsome now that I should sign him up on a dating site so he could get a girlfriend. I told him that wasn’t going to happen. He gets neutered next week.

Have you ever been to a spa? What do you think it would be like to go to one of those spas in Baden-Baden, Germany? How would you describe yourself on a dating site?

Queens of Heart

On Thanksgiving morning, while enjoying my coffee and watching the parades, I discovered that there is a popular musical comedy on Broadway right now called Six – The Musical.  It’s about the six wives of Henry VIII.  Really?  Of his six wives, only one truly survived (Anne of Cleves) and came out of her marriage debacle in relatively good shape.  So now we have a musical about a wife cast aside, two wives beheaded, one wife dead from childbirth complications and his last wife, while surviving, also dead in childbirth after marrying again to a man whom history suggests only wanted her because she was the Queen Dowager.  Somehow all this death and destruction doesn’t seem like the stuff of comedic song and dance.  (Of course who would have thought the plight of five women accused of murder in Chicago would make for a compelling musical?)

If you look up “historical fiction” you’ll find definitions that all seem to include any story that takes place in the past but that’s just silly – unless it’s sci fi, set in the future, wouldn’t every book written be historical fiction after about a week in print?  I’ve always thought of “HF” was any re-working of a historical subject/figure.  Like Hillary Mantel’s book on Robespierre and Danton during the French Revolution (and all her Wolf Hall books as well).  Or King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips.  Or The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory. And I haven’t read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly fiction and very little historical, since even Egyptologists admit to knowing extremely little about the ancient queen.

As these books sell well, I worry that future generations will think of the plots and characters as more historical than they really are.  Of course in looking up Six online, it looks like the plot doesn’t even attempt to portray history, so hopefully no one will come away thinking that wearing a choker to represent that you got beheaded is a meaningful fashion statement.

When was the War of 1812?

The Game’s Afoot

This chess game has been ongoing for a couple of years – in the front yard of a house about 15 blocks up from my house.  I’ve always been intrigued by it, mostly because I’m not a big “decorations in the yard” type of gal. 

The other intrigue has to do with the fact that my natural instinct is to say “the cat is going to crush the dog”.  My second instinct is to say “why is the bird watching so intently?”  Personally I think watching games like chess and GO are akin to watching the proverbial paint dry.

Personally I like dice games because if you lose, you can always blame it on bad luck with the dice.  Aggravation, Sorry, Parchesi, even Monopoly.  I know the rules of chess and GO but haven’t played either for years. I’m also fond of trivia games.

Do you think cats are better chess players than dogs?

All Aboard

Yesterday Bill mentioned the disappointment that Botticelli’s Venus isn’t shown to it’s best advantage in its home in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  I know someone who was disappointed at seeing the David by Michelangelo in that same city; she thought that many fewer people should be allowed into the gallery at any given time so that it is quiet while you are observing the statue.  I also know several folks who were underwhelmed by Stonehenge; they feel it is too close to the highway (technically the highway is too close to Stonehenge) and there is a chain link fence along the road that runs up to it.  And of course I did have a client once who just didn’t love Paris the way he thought he should. He couldn’t explain it at all and felt a little sheepish about it.

One of the days I was visiting Pat in Nashville, we drove down to Chattanooga for a day.  After we’d gone all through the huge aquarium there, I told Pat I wanted to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  After all – why not.  I’m guessing if it took me 66 years to get to Chattanooga the first time, I probably won’t get another chance!

We turned on the GPS… we were only about 3 miles away but it was downtown traffic so we wanted to be sure.  A left turn took us to the back of a hotel where there were some older trains but there wasn’t an entrance so we turned back.  A right turn after the hotel was the same… train cars but no entrance.  The front of the hotel has mostly pay parking and there was no signage whatsoever for the CCC.  We finally parked in a questionable spot and I called the hotel itself.  The gal who answered the phone said you had to go through the hotel lobby to get there.  Hmmmm.  We left the car in our questionable space and traipsed into the hotel.  It became clear immediately that this hotel had been the train station at one point but these days it is in sad shape and most of the retail spots in the big open atrium are dark.

If you walk all the way through, you do indeed come out to the train yard and the CCC is right there but that’s about all there is to say.  Not clean, not spiffed up, no signage, no speakers playing the famous song.  No little café serving coffee with cute names and no gift shop with magnet and postcards.  All the other train cars in the yard are in very sad shape; a few look like there might be some refurbishing going on, but I wouldn’t bet any money on when it will actually be finished.  As long as we were there, Pat snapped a photo of me in front of the engine, proof that we had actually found it!  Truly, the model of the CCC in the hotel lobby was more impressive than the actual train itself.

Luckily since we hadn’t thought about looking for the CCC until that morning, neither of us had any great expectations so it wasn’t nearly as disappointing as it could have been.  I think it’s the big build up in our expectations that causes most of our disappointments – at least it is for me.

What would you call a coffee drink at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Coffee Shop?

Resume Refresh

Photo credit:  Markus Spiske

There’s been a lot of resume talk at our house as YA has recently moved to another job at her company.  She hasn’t actually shown me her current resume but I know she updates it regularly so that it’s up to date all the time. So it’s ready at a moment’s notice, if the need should arise!

Last week when we talked about sheets, K-Two said

“I got really good at making up mattresses for isolettes, bassinets, and cribs during my career – a skill no longer needed. And if really pushed, I could probably still change the sheets of an occupied bed.”

This got me to thinking how imminently practical (and refreshing) it would be to see solid skills like bed-making show up on a resume, instead of the boring vanilla stuff that you see on most resumes these days.

I started to think about the very practical skills that I could list on a resume.

    1. Can organize errands based on opening times and order efficiency
    2. Can coax almost any grumpy person into a smile
    3. Can get a pill down even the most recalcitrant kitty
    4. Can make 15 pies in one day

Any good skills for your resume this week?

And Your Father Smells of Elderberries

I know you’re thinking it’s not possible for me to talk about Nashville any more than I have.  Wrong.  With the exception of three trips to St. Louis to see Nonny (two of them medical issues), I haven’t traveled anywhere since before pandemic.  For someone who worked in the travel industry for 30+ years, 3 years is a long time between trips so Nashville was actually pretty special.  And have I mentioned that I had a great time with my friend Pat?

On my first morning in the city, we went downtown to see the Frist Museum; there was a display for Japanese textiles that we wanted to see.  It’s not a large museum and all they do is special shows – no permanent galleries.  The day we were there just happened to be the very last day of a special display of armor from the middle ages – so lucky!

I’m not a fan of military strategy or warfare in general but the lengths that we humans will go to is just amazing.  Having never seen any kind of armor up close, I was amazed that so much of it was covered in remarkable artistry, carvings in silver and gold adorning a lot of pieces.  Trying to figure out how a knight would be able to see took quite a bit of doing and I don’t even want to think about what happens when you’re all suited up and nature comes a’ calling!

Despite having seen Camelot several times as well as Ivanhoe and Robin Hood, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the armor that horses wore.  A full suit of armor for a horse is called a bard or barding but the piece that amazes me the most is the chanfron – the face mask.  I’m thinking that there was probably an industry for training horses to wear face masks.  I doubt you could just stroll into the stall and have a horse accept this easily.

The other amazing thing to me is the naming of armor pieces.  Every single little piece has a name, even the part that covers the armpit – the besagew.  Many of the names come from the French – guessing that armor trends started in that part of Europe and spread?  Here’s another suit that I found interesting – not sure why we needed to be reminded of the anatomical features of the wearer.

Another friend of mind who lives in St. Paul knows an enormous amount about medieval warfare and I can’t wait to see her next and show her my pictures.  I’m guessing she already knows all the names of the pieces.  Maybe I’ll quiz her.

Did you ever want to be a knight in shining armor when you were a kid?


My first afternoon in Nashville, my friend and I went to Ann Patchett’s bookstore – Parnassus Books.  It’s everything a bookstore should be.  Tall ceilings, lots of wood, big windows, amazing children’s section, attentive staff and some wonderfully curated displays.  There are two local authors tables, one of fiction on the fiction side of the store and one of non-fiction on the non-fiction side.  Both displays had a wide variety of authors (not just a huge pile of one or two) and many of the books were signed.

I couldn’t resist.  Although I didn’t recognize any of the titles, I managed to narrow it down to three; I asked the two staff at the desk for recommendations.  Between them, they had only read one of the titles but they were familiar with the plots for all three.  Based on their input I chose a historical fiction/fantasy (should that be called historical fantasy?)  It’s set in Florence in 1473 and it intrigues me since I have actually been to Florence.  I don’t know much at all about the history of Florence, so I’m looking forward to it. 

 I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Do you have any favorite local authors?  (Yes, you should absolutely count our Chris!)