Saturday, December 14, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

CHRISTMAS AT MY ZOO--UM, HOUSE

I so enjoyed seeing Laurie's New Mexican take on the Yuletide celebrations that I just had to follow suit and share some photos from Christmas here in North Carolina. Of course, the menagerie had to get in on the action (that's why no holiday video this year!) Well, you'll see!

Our big celebratory meal was on Thanksgiving, as usual, but I can only drag out the special dishes once a year. So I do!. Blanca (upper right corner) photobombed the shot!

Ready for Christmas dinner--two weeks early!
 I'm never satisfied with one big tree. I like lots of little ones, too.

Three little trees!
 But, of course, I have a big one, too. This one is made of black metal, which assembles easily and shows off my ornaments. The chair is waiting for my 2019 teddy bear, which I haven't bought yet.

Santa is always watching!

I have ornaments from many of the countries we've visited, including some from the European tour we made by river cruise last year. I love old-style glass ornaments (I even have some from the 50s that belonged to my mom), but new things are fun, too. If you look close you can see Captain Kirk and the Enterprise hanging out.

Some of my favorites.


The stockings are all hung by the chimney with cat.

In hopes that St. Nicholas will know where they're at.

The doggies are tucked all warm in their beds,

Rom, with a treat after a morning in the snow.
 While visions of chasing squirrels dance in their heads!

Skiffy, too busy to look up!
 And I heard them bark and meow as they scurried out of sight--Merry Christmas to all! And to all a New Year most bright!

Happy Holidays, Donna

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It's A Very Merry #Christmas #Cover Reveal! #scifirom

Yes, I know, I've been seriously, seriously AWOL and I'm sooooo sorry. And I'm dashing in last minute for my spot today because I've been waiting for something special to drop into my inbox, and here it is at last. Ta-dah! Cover reveal!

So what's this? After years of trying to wrap my head around the idea of Christmas in Spaaaaaaace! and after giving the former incarnation of this away as a freebie many moons ago, Keir and Quin's holiday story is about to become an official release in my Travellers Universe. Still editing at the mo, so no set date yet, only that I'm doing my damnedest to hit the winter solstice at the latest. For now, I hope you enjoy the pretty (the very beautiful work of Danielle Fine). 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Happy Holidays from New Mexico

We decorated for the holidays this year. Hardly a profound statement, except that in many years...we just didn't. This year we got in the mood right after Thanksgiving to drag out all the holiday decor and go to town, and I'm glad we did.

It's nice to see the Christmas tree lights sparkling in the front window and the other festive adornments in the living room. I didn't go overly overboard (we never have), but I think it's a nice touch for the holidays.

Since this will probably be my last blog of 2019 (because Spacefreighters tends to "go dark" from mid-December to the beginning of January), I thought I'd share just a few photos of the ol' hacienda playing holiday dress-up--some "outfits" courtesy of Mother Nature, and some dug out of storage boxes.


South Mountain set the scene for a white Christmas this year. 
(It doesn't always happen!)




We're in the process of building a courtyard that's been
in the planning stages for well over a decade. (At least,
we've had it staked out for at least that long!)

This is Phase One with a bit of seasonal "flocking."
The gate is just a temporary makeshift barrier until
we have custom doors made. It's there to keep the 
coyotes and other predators out. (Yeah. Really.)



Earlier this year we bought a puppy, and this was Zoey's first frolic 
in the funny white stuff that suddenly appeared one morning. 
She found it to be quite a lot of fun--after some initial WTHs?



The wreath on our entry gate, all lit up.



The gate and wreath in the daylight hours.



I'm super proud of this! I actually have a wreath on my front door
this year! Had to capture it for show and tell. You can't see it, but the hangar
is bronze and has three big jingle bells at the top. I'm so freakin' proud
of this silly little wreath. Next year, I hope to really deck out the entire
courtyard with garlands, wreaths & lights...and maybe some luminarias :)




Oh, Christmas Tree, oh, Christmas Tree. 
Night time mode.



A flash photo so some of the ornaments show up a little better. 
Most came from Nogales, Mexico, and I collected them over 
the decades when I visited my mom in southern Arizona. Mom's been
 gone for many years now, so getting them out each Christmas is 
a very special remembrance for me.

They're made of colorful yarn pressed flat onto a hard backing.
I have hundreds--bells, wise men, angels, birds, animals, stars, drums, 
Santa, snowmen and just about any holiday-type thing you can think of.

Here's a close-up of a reindeer so you can get an idea what they look like.


I also have an assortment of handmade 4" snowflakes that were 
painstakingly crocheted and sprayed so they keep their shape. 
They were made by a longtime friend of the family who's 
been gone a very long time. Each snowflake is a unique shape 
and pattern, just like the real ones. 

There's also a nest with little blue wooden eggs--which 
is supposed to bring good luck. You can just see it a little to the 
right of the middle of the tree. We hung a Mexican ornament of
a yellow bird just above it, looking like it was just flying from the nest.

Most of the lights are red chili lights with a few strands of multi-color.
The tree topper (which you can't see) is a tiny green cowboy hat. Yeehaw.


The pottery on our fireplace get some little red bows
to dress them up for the holidays.



My buffet gets an assortment of Christmasy visitors--angels, santas,
snowmen, mini-wreaths, holly sprigs, and a few more little red bows 
to add some festive color. A white flocked garland goes over the top.



Those little red bows also do amazing things to dress up our 
pottery collection for the holidays.

And there's the nickel tour. Hope you enjoyed this quick peek.
Did you decorate for the holidays this year? 


Have a wonderful holiday 
and a festive New Year!
See you in 2020!


Friday, December 6, 2019

CLIMATE CHANGE: A WORLD ON FIRE


The Amazon, parts of Australia, Indonesia, Siberia, California and even North Carolina are on fire. Southern France is inundated with flood waters. The permafrost in the Arctic Circle is melting, while travelers at Thanksgiving here in the U.S. faced the first “bomb cyclone” of the season. The devastating effects of global warming are not something we will see in the distant future. They are here. Now.

Signs of life? No, wildfires in Australia seen from space (NASA).
The United Nations annual climate conference is meeting this week in Madrid, (most) countries of the world confronting the ominous implications of scientific studies from all over the globe, summarized in the World Meteorological Organization’s annual state of the global climate report, issued Tuesday. In that document, spanning a decade of increasing global temperatures and more dramatic impacts, WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas states bluntly, “Things are getting worse.” He adds, “The only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in power production, industry and transportation.” *

Meanwhile, folks in the United States are still trying to absorb the implications of last year's   National Climate Assessment, a collaborative document produced every four years by the combined efforts of over 300 scientists and analysts at NASA, NOAA, the Department of Defense and ten other agencies. The Federal report caused controversy when it was released a year ago without notice on Black Friday, a day when not even the most devoted environmental wonk would be scanning his or her news feed. The lead authors of the report themselves were given no advance warning of the change in release date; one scientist had to put Thanksgiving pie-baking on hold to do a quick read-through of the final report for the stealth launch. And no one knows, or will say, who ordered the quickie “Friday news dump.”

Still, the report was full of pertinent, if unwelcome, facts. After analyzing thousands of studies from every region of the country, the scientists concluded that, if unchecked, global warming will cost the United States economy billions of dollars per year and thousands of lives as well. Some effects will be devastating to communities in the short run—the loss of homes, businesses and crops; but many will be permanent—the extinction of species, for example, or the loss of fisheries, forests and coastlines.

The report pulls no punches in its conclusions, from its opening sentences: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid.”

We have all heard, in isolated news reports, the damning evidence pinpointed in the Assessment: the rise in temperature in the U.S alone of 1.8 Fahrenheit since 1901; the shrinkage of the Western mountain snowpack in the last 50 years; 16 of the 17 hottest years on record since 2000; droughts, floods, wildfires.
 
These “can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have had on the climate,” the report says. The scientists go on to say that if we wish to avoid 3.6 degrees of warming, we must cut this kind of pollution by 2040. If we do nothing and greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise, the Earth could warm by as much as 9 degrees by 2100.** 


Other scientists have stated even a two-degree rise in temperature will result in irreversible changes in our environment. Tolerating a 3.6 rise will mean major sacrifice at all levels of society and significant new technologies. Nine degrees is unthinkable. Our planet would not survive it. The Earth would be as uninhabitable as Mars.***

The problem is that 2100 seems like an impossibly long time in the future for most folks. My  grandchildren (and yours, if you have any) will be facing the nursing home by then, if they are still alive. But those climate changes won’t just happen in 2099. They will happen in 2020 and 2025 and 2030 and every year until 2100, gradually bringing more and worse disasters. We’ll very probably reach the point of no return (the “tipping point,” as scientists put it, the point where we can no longer reverse the damage) long before that distant date. Some scientists believe we have already passed that point. 

An even greater obstacle to climate action is that the effects of global warming fall disproportionately on the poor and disadvantaged of any country. Wealthy members of society can be insulated from the worst of what happens outside their penthouses. But the working class fishermen of Tangier Island in Virginia and the Pacific Islanders of Kiribati, the African-American communities in the low-lying parishes of New Orleans and counties of Eastern North Carolina, the Inuit/First Nations villagers of Arctic Canada and Alaska, the Native American tribes of the desert Southwest, the monsoon victims in the Indian subcontinent, the displaced of all the world’s drought-stricken, flood-prone, resource-short, or famine-ravaged nations—all feel the impact of climate change already. Every day. Every season. They have no way to escape it or ignore it.
  
But when the farmers in our Midwest see a new Dust Bowl, we will all feel it. When major cities like New York, Galveston, New Orleans and Miami sink beneath the waves; when L.A., Seattle, Portland and even Atlanta are choked with the smoke of wildfires; when Chicago and Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. are frozen and impassable for weeks at a time, we may decide something should be done.

Then it may well be too late.

Cheers, Donna

*Information provided from: “Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change,” by Henry Fountain, The New York Times, December 4, 2019.

**Information provided from: “A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday,” by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, November 23, 2018.

***Information provided from: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells, Tim Duggan Books, New York, 2019.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Out of This World Holiday SFR Event


Scores of Sci-Fi Romance authors 
have teamed up to offer 
some great reading for this holiday season.


Click the link to see the 50+ books included 
and read all the details. 

Hope your holidays are Out of This World!


GoT ReWatch: Another Look and New Insights

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, if you celebrate, and one that wasn't impacted too terribly by any of the early winter weather that swept through the country. I'd also like to offer my sincere sympathy to anyone affected by the senseless attacks over this long weekend.

I'm going to stray from my usual SFR topic this week to give a few thoughts on the conclusion of Game of Thrones, now that I've had many months to process the ending. When the original finale for the series was aired earlier this year, I was one of the millions of fans who felt absolutely let down and depressed by how it all concluded. I was also one of those fans who said I'd never watch the series again, because what was the point?

If you want a recap of my angst, I poured it into these blogs:

My Watch Has Ended...Badly

Storyteller's Fail: Here Lies a Great Epic

Well, as I mentioned, I did end up watching it again. And even once more, after more time had lapsed.

And I think I may have found the point I originally missed. Several of them, actually.

But let's backtrack. In my recent marathon RE-rewatch of most of the episodes (some weren't available), it was enthralling to take another look at this world and relive the long journey from beginning to end. There was SO much I missed in the first viewing/s. Foreshadowing abounded. There were hints galore. Important prophecies ran rampant. And with them there were a few key "looking back scenes" to help connect the dots. It was all there, had I been paying attention to the details and subtle clues and not the drama unfolding on the screen.

Everything up until the Battle of Winterfell (2 or 3 episodes from the end) was, and probably always will be, one of the greatest fiction stories that I've ever experienced. And now that I've viewed it in it's entirety again, I had a chance to look at the closing events in a different way.

Here are my thoughts.

DANGER: SPOILERS AHEAD

If you're that person on the planet who never saw the end of Game of Thrones that aired earlier this year, and still plan to --- STOP READING HERE!

So what disappointed me the first time around?

And what was the point that I probably missed?

The Disappointment:

After all his struggles, trials revelations and prophecies, Jon Snow did not ascend to the Iron Throne to rule the Seven Kingdoms.

The Missed Point:

The Starks rule the world!

Jon's younger brother, Bran, is the new king of the seven six kingdoms based at King's Landing in the South. His sister, Sansa, is Queen of the North--now again a separate and independent kingdom--er, queendom--as it had been "for thousands of years" and she's at home in Winterfell, where this story began many years before.

And Jon has become the King of the Far North as well as King of the Wildlings in the huge, frozen land beyond the broken Wall after stating--multiple times--that's where he truly wanted to be. He's reunited with Ghost, his great white direwolf and will reign without threat of the White Walker Army of the Dead, who have been annihilated by a force that Jon was instrumental in raising. He has forever earned the gratitude and respect of the Wildings and probably all of Westeros (though perhaps not the Unsullied), and as both an honorable Stark and sane Targaryen, and he'll have no challengers to this throne.

And as for his other surviving sibling, his younger sister Arya the Night King Slayer (see what I did there), is off on a voyage to discover new lands.

The Starks went from being hunted, destitute and homeless to practically ruling the entire planet. I guess I can live with that.

The Disappointment:

Jon didn't have his HEA with dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen. In fact, he murdered her.

The Missed Point:

Repeatedly throughout the series it was stated that every time a Targaryen was born it was a coin toss if they'd be mad or sane. Dany's father was insane and horribly cruel, and though she always professed that she wasn't like him, in the end the acorn didn't fall far from the oak tree. The story didn't just foreshadow Daenerys turn to madness, it turned huge spotlights on the inevitability. Daenerys flipped out and Jon had no choice but to act to end her reign of terror before it truly began so he could spare the entire world the fate of being ruled by a terrible tyrant. Of course this also conveniently took care of the small issues (*ahem*) that Jon was, in fact, a Targaryen and a fairy tale ending with Dany would means that he'd be having a love affair with and most probably marrying his aunt. (Oh sure, the audience was fine with it BEFORE his true identity was revealed. *coughcough*) I now have to concede that I'm not sure this could have worked with any other outcome after Dany went off the deep end.

The Disappointment:

After a shot at happiness with Brienne of Tarth (make that Ser Brienne of Tarth, since being knighted before the Battle of Winterfell by Jaime) he did an about face and returned to his evil, wicked, mean & nasty sister Cersei. In his attempt to protect and rescue her from the aftermath of her own prideful, deadly decisions that brought down her monarchy, they were both killed. Not by an enemy, but squashed by the collapsing Red Keep--flattened like the beetles their mentally-challenged cousin would smash with rocks. (That was some distant foreshadowing from one of the very first episodes!)

The Missed Point:

Jaime probably wouldn't have survived in this new world for long. He was the brother of the hated Queen Cersei and a Lannister to boot. Since his legendary skill as a sword master was lost when he lost his hand (for defending Brienne of Tarth, no less), he would have had a very short life expectancy. Maybe only a few days. This way he died being "valiant" and Brienne had the opportunity to finish his record of heroic deeds in the Book of Knights (officially titled The Book of Brothers) for all posterity. Probably a better end than being dropped in the mud--and his legend with him--by the first Kingslayer-hater who happened along. And the completion of his record of honor was a final act of love on the part of Brienne.

I'll leave it at those three main points for now. When GoT originally aired the finale, I felt pretty crushed and heartsick at the outcome. But with time, I've been able to see things in a new light. Though it wasn't the perfect ending fans hoped for, I think most will also agree there could be no "perfect" ending for this vastly complex, multi-generational tale. 

I will admit there is one aspect to the story that will always haunt me, and it's that Catelyn Stark never learned that Jon Snow was not her spouse's bastard. She died believing that Jon was Ned's son, the product of a liaison between her spouse and some unknown woman. She could never know of Ned's promise to his dying sister, Lyanna, to protect the identity of her newborn son--the true heir to the Iron Throne. I like to think that somehow Cat learned the truth from the great beyond and also realized why Ned could never reveal the secret of Jon's true identity.

Have a great week.


The images associated with Game of Thrones used in this blog were purchased from DepositPhotos and are intended for editorial use only.

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.