Fic: Betrothal Gifts

Nov. 25th, 2014 06:39 am
avanti_90: (Default)
[personal profile] avanti_90 posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
Betrothal Gifts (4389 words) by avanti_90
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Olivia Vorbarra Vorkosigan/Piotr Vorkosigan, Ezar Vorbarra/Yuri Vorbarra's Sister, Alys Vorpatril/Padma Vorpatril, Aral Vorkosigan/Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, Kareen Vorbarra/Vidal Vordarian, Gregor Vorbarra/Laisa Toscane Vorbarra
Characters: Xav Vorbarra, Yuri Vorbarra, Yuri Vorbarra’s Sister, Aral Vorkosigan, Xav Vorbarra’s Betan Wife, Alys Vorpatril, Padma Vorpatril, Serg Vorbarra, Kareen Vorbarra, Vidal Vordarian, Gregor Vorbarra, Laisa Toscane Vorbarra, Piotr Pierre Vorkosigan

Six betrothals in the extended Vorbarra family, and six gifts that were more than what they appeared to be.

The definition of inevitability

Nov. 24th, 2014 07:17 pm
sarah: (craving)
[personal profile] sarah
While chatting with our tenant, I decided on a whim to touch up the paint around her living room window. We're talking two little strips of green, about 1" x 6", that had been peeled away just above the window frame.

So I dug out the little 200ml paint tester canister of that chartreuse color from the basement (where leftover paint goes to age). We're talking a five-minute job. I didn't even change out of my work clothes. And I put the screw-top lid wet-paint-side-up on my tenant's bright glossy red side table.

You can see where this is going. But it was only going to take me five minutes. Not even that.

Pleased with my touch-up job, I looked down and there were these little chartreuse marks in a line going across the glossy red table. And there was a little tuxedo cat next to the table, looking pleased with her explorations.

the underside of Ginny's green paw

She was not pleased when I wrangled her into the kitchen sink for a paw wash.

(Fortunately, wet paint wipes right off a glossy red surface. Fyi.)
bibliogramma: (Default)
[personal profile] bibliogramma

Two by Fiona Patton (wife of Tanya Huff), competing a trilogy I started reading a long time ago.

The Golden Tower

This is the second volume of Patton's Estavia trilogy. I read the first volume quite some time ago and enjoyed it very much, but then it took a long time to get an ebook of this one, and in the meantime, I had forgotten a fair bit of the detail of the first volume. That may be why I found it so difficult to get into this volume.

Or it could be suffering from middle-volume syndrome, where most of the action, physical or psychological, is about the characters getting into position for volume three. Certainly, that's what was happening for about three-quarters of the book, while key characters equivocated all over the place. The last part of the book started moving as some decisions were finally taken and some important moves were made.

The Shining City

So, series finished. There was stuff I liked a lot, and stuff that didn't work for me. Again, I found the pacing wrong for the first two thirds of the book. Too much back-and-forthing, complete with adolescent angst. I guess this is understandable since the book is very much a coming-of-age story, with all the major protagonists under 20 and tied together by serious events from their childhoods and a web of prophecies that change dramatically depending on whether they work out their interpersonal dramas or not.

So... Basically, there's this God, one of six Gods who give their protection to the people of this particular city-state. And he thinks thinks are stagnant and wants to shake things up. And there are these four outcaste orphan kids living on the streets, three of whom have destinies - Brax, Graize and Spar - and one of whom will die young in a metaphysical maelstrom. When Brax and Graize are very young, Brax does something that leads to Graize kind of imprinting/obsessing on him, but they are separated. Later on, when they are still kids, Brax is taking care of another street kid, Spar, and Graize has hooked up with the fourth kid who will die soon. Graize hates Spar, because Brax is caring for him, and hates/desires Brax. Spar and Graize are both seers, which in this world contains a wide mix of magical goodies. So on this particularly nasty night, a swarm of hungry, mindless wild spirits break the protections on the city and wreak havoc. The four boys find themselves at the centre of it. One boy dies, Grize is teleported hundreds of miles away to be found and cared for by nomadic enemies of the city, Brax swears fealty to the god of war if she will help him fight the spirits and save Spar, and the spirits themseves are tramsformed into a proto-god who is tied both to Graize and Spar.

The whole series is about the three surviving boys and the proto-god growing up and sorting out their feelings and needs so they can eventually work together to save the city from an alliance of outside enemies intending on its destruction. In the process, everybody gets to be vacillating and selfish, though Brax, as the champion of a god, sorts things out earliest and Graize, as a jealous little bint, takes the most time getting a clue. Which causes a great deal of trouble, as he is a very powerful sorcerer/seer who is deep in the plans of all these enemies because he wants to destroy the city that Brax is sworn to protect.

It all works out in the end, and the city gets a new god out of the whole business, too.

What I liked was the worldbuilding and the natural feel to a social system that accommodates people who are male, people who are female, and people who are bi-gendered and can shift their presentation easily from male to female. Also, same-sex relationships all over the place, totally normal.

So, interesting, fun at times, a little slow at others, good but not great.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
[personal profile] mmegaera
Countryside on the way to Conconully.
Countryside on the way to Conconully.

Back on the last weekend in September, when the weather was much warmer and sunnier, I took a trip back to the Okanogan, partly because I’m about to set another novel in that part of the world, and partly, well, mostly because it’s been a couple of years since my last visit, and I wanted to make one more weekend trip at the end of the season.

The trip over the mountains was beautiful. The trees were just starting to turn, and once I crossed over Blewett Pass and coasted down into the Wenatchee Valley the fruit stands were all overflowing (with fruit and with customers). The sky was clear and blue over there, too, unlike at home.

My first stop for this trip was at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, which is housed in the city’s original post office, fronted, unfortunately, by a flight of granite steps.

Steps at the the front of the Wenatchee Valley Museum.
Steps at the the front of the Wenatchee Valley Museum.

I say unfortunately, because somehow as I was getting out of my car, parked along the curb in front of the museum, I managed to trip, fall, and strike my kneecap painfully against the very edge of one of those granite steps. All I can say is wow, that hurt.

But the museum itself was great, once the throbbing in my knee subsided enough for me to enjoy it. A temporary exhibit on Indian basketry, a permanent exhibit on transportation which included an adorable coin-operated model train, and, most interesting of all to me, a large and well-designed exhibit on the history of how Washington became world-famous for its apples. Wenatchee is at the heart of apple-growing country.

After a stop at a drug store to pick up some painkiller for my knee, I crossed the Columbia River and headed north towards the Okanogan. The highway parallels the massive river as it curves north between dry brown cliffs, the space between river and cliff covered in orchards. It really doesn’t look like most non-Washingtonians’ idea of what Washington should look like, but actually far more of Washington looks like this than it does the heavily-wooded west side of the mountains.

Orchards along the Columbia River.
Orchards along the Columbia River.

An hour or so north of Wenatchee, the highway crosses back to the west side of the Columbia on a bridge dwarfed by the scenery. At the small town of Brewster, a large chunk of which burned last summer in the Carlton Complex fire (the largest wildfire in Washington’s history), the Columbia River turns east. This is also where the Okanogan River adds its flow to the Columbia, and where my highway turned north.

This is the beginning of the Okanogan Country, and the confluence of the two rivers is where, back in 1811, Fort Okanogan was established as a fur trading post. It used to be a state park, but the site is on the Colville Indian Reservation, which covers a big chunk of northeastern Washington, and it’s now run by the reservation authorities, with a terrific little museum telling of early white settlement from the Indians’ point of view. It just reopened this summer under its new ownership, so I was very pleased to stop and take a look. The view from the museum’s portico is gorgeous, too.

The view from the portico at the Fort Okanogan Museum.
The view from the portico at the Fort Okanogan Museum.
Hand-carved canoe in the Fort Okanogan Museum.
Hand-carved canoe in the Fort Okanogan Museum.

And so on up the Okanogan River to the twin towns of Okanogan and Omak, where I found myself a motel, then decided, since it wasn’t that late in the afternoon, to take the fourteen-mile side road to the town of Conconully. My novel Sojourn is set in a highly-fictionalized version of Conconully, mostly in the beginning because I just loved the name, and then because of some historical events that happened there.

Salmon Creek.  In 1894, this creek flooded and washed away almost the entire town of Conconully, killing 157 people.  Doesn't look like it could, does it?
Salmon Creek, as seen from the little bridge in Matsura Park. In 1894, this creek flooded and washed away almost the entire town of Conconully, killing 157 people. Doesn’t look like it could, does it?
Conconully's new town park, named after Frank Matsura, a Japanese photographer who became one of the town's most famous sons.
Conconully’s new town park, named after Frank Matsura, a Japanese photographer who became one of the town’s most famous sons.

And I was lucky enough, as I happened to drive by the Conconully Museum, which is only open by appointment (cell phone coverage in Conconully being practically non-existent because it is that far out in the boonies and down in a canyon to boot), to see someone coming out of it.

When I caught up with her, she invited me in, and so I got to learn more about the history of the real Conconully, learn about an outdoor quilt show they hold every summer, and pick up tidbits that will be fun to put in my next Tale of the Unearthly Northwest, called Reunion, which will be coming out next year!

Mirrored from Repeating History.

I am really okay, folks.

Nov. 24th, 2014 04:32 pm
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[personal profile] alexandraerin
Okay, so, more than one person--most of them family or close to it--has expressed concern over my earlier status post. I think the vagueness of it made things sound more dire than they actually are.

Folks, I'm not being vague because it was too unspeakable to speak of. I'm being vague because there are literally thousands of people who will see whatever I post here, and most of them aren't family. While I sometimes feel like being very candid about my own health and status, other people--even my immediate family members--are other people, and it's not my place to tell strangers on the internet what's going on in other people's lives.

One of the purposes of my status posts is to give me a place to take a dispassionate inventory of how I'm feeling and what I'm going through, so I can incorporate that into my plans. Recognizing that I just came through a situation that I expected to be fairly demanding but that unexpectedly became more demanding is not a lament or complaint or declaration of any kind, it's an assessment.

There was a high-pressure situation. It was handled, we got through it, but now like many things that have been placed under pressure, I must decompress gradually. This isn't melodrama, it's the final stage of crisis management.

I am sorry if I scared anyone, but I'm even more sorry if I gave anyone the impression that I went through something that was more than I could deal with or that I regret being there, because I didn't and I don't. While I'm only talking about it in terms of how it impacts my work (because that's what my status posts are about), I'm not actually the one who had a bad day on Saturday. And my wish/hope/fervent prayer is that it never happens again, not that I'm not there if it does. The one thing I am glad of in the whole thing is that I was there.

To stave off another clarification later: I'm not angry or even stressed out at the moment. I just don't want people worrying about me.

I am okay. I'm not mad. I am okay.

Thank you.


Nov. 24th, 2014 04:43 pm
twistedchick: (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Although I had planned to be at ChessieCon, and had been thinking of things to do at it and people to meet for most of the last year, I am just not up to dealing it. Even though I would love to see all of you, whom I have seen at Darkover from year to year in the past, and to meet those of you I haven't met yet -- I need the time for resting and regaining my strength, instead of wearing myself to pieces, because when I am this tired and worn I would not enjoy being there. So, if you were planning to see me there, this is why I probably will not be, barring divine intervention and a miraculous healing from exhaustion between now and Friday.


Nov. 24th, 2014 08:11 pm
oursin: Painting by Carrington of performing seals in a circus balancing coloured balls (Performing seals)
[personal profile] oursin

I must really Make An Effort and try and do some arting and exhibitioning in the next few months.

While the Expotition to Dulwich for the Emily Carr exhibition is something that partner and I have marked down to do (maybe over the Xmas/New Year break?), there are a couple of other things on my own list.

Maggi Hambling, Walls of Water, at the National Gallery. A few weeks ago we went to a concert which included a piece inspired by these paintings, which were flashed up during the performance, and I strongly felt that I needed to see the actual works. Article in today's Guardian.

This one is partly for New Project Research Purposes: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39 explores the experiences and interactions of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds in London’s art world between the wars (Tate Britain). I heard one of the curators talk about this subject at a conference last year, and very much want to know more.


Nov. 24th, 2014 03:22 pm
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[personal profile] supergee
Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the gospel of Giuliani one step further.
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Posted by Fred Clark

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani this weekend helped to illustrate what I was getting at last week when I suggested that G.K. Chesterton’s anti-Semitism has something to teach us about racism and white supremacy here in 21st-century America.

Chesterton wrote of what he called the “Jewish problem.” The nature of that problem was simply that Jews exist. Chesterton viewed Jewish people as “foreigners, only foreigners that were not called foreigners” — meaning they were perpetual aliens whose allegiance, he was convinced, must always lie elsewhere. Therefore, for Chesterton, Jews could never be trusted — they must always be viewed with suspicion, as guilty unless proven innocent.

This idea of a “Jewish problem” became the lens through which Chesterton viewed any discussion Jewish people and their rights as citizens. With that lens in place, Chesterton didn’t need to deny the obvious reality of anti-Semitic prejudice or to deny that Jewish people, as a minority, often suffered from injustice. His “Jewish problem” construct enabled him to reinterpret all evidence of such prejudice in a way that reinforced his own anti-Semitism and, in his view, justified such prejudice. If those untrustworthy Jews have been treated unjustly, then that’s just more reason not to trust them — they’ll want payback.

Chesterton, then, could acknowledge Jewish suffering from injustice, but he regarded it as self-inflicted. Jewish people were to blame for anti-Semitism. Jewish people were to blame for anything bad that was done to them.

The “problem” half of Chesterton’s “Jewish problem” construct was his way of acknowledging that such injustice existed, and even that it was regrettable. But this way of framing the “problem” stunted his otherwise brilliant intellect — restricting his ability to even think about any ways of solving this problem that didn’t involve placing all of the blame for it exclusively on the shoulders of the victims themselves. Thus even a brilliant man like Chesterton made himself stupid. He rendered himself incapable of recognizing the basic distinction between injustice done against Jews and injustice done by Jews.

This same stunted, stupid-making framework is at work here in 21st-century America in much of our discussion about “race.” Every day, somewhere on your television and your radio dial you will find white people discussing race and racism as “the Black Problem.”

Which brings us to Rudy Giuliani, a man as defiantly and proudly racist as Chesterton was defiantly and proudly anti-Semitic:

“Can I say this, first of all, black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as a agent of the state to uphold the law,” he said. “So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which is exacerbated tensions that are deeply imbedded in American culture.”

Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes.

“It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community,” he said. “White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time.”

I cannot believe that Rudy Giuliani is as wholly ignorant as he pretends to be when he repeats this hogwash about “you’re not discussing” black victims of black violence. I do not believe that it is possible that a man who served for years as the mayor of New York City is completely unaware of the witness of the black church in New York. This is a deliberate, brazen lie on Giuliani’s part.

It is a lie frequently told in America as part of what Ta-Nehisi Coates calls “The politics of changing the subject“:

The notion that violence within the black community is “background noise” is not supported by the historical recordor by Google. I have said this before. It’s almost as if Stop The Violence never happened, or The Interruptors never happened, or Kendrick Lamar never happened. The call issued by Erica Ford at the end of this Do The Right Thing retrospective is so common as to be ritual. It is not “black on black crime” that is background noise in America, but the pleas of black people.

Nothing Coates says there is new or news. And none of it is unknown to Rudy Giuliani. When Giuliani speaks as though he does not know all of this, he is simply lying.

Giuliani is lying — and doubling down on those lies — in service of the construct of “The Black Problem.” That is the only frame Giuliani will allow for discussion of the injustices faced by black people in America. When an unarmed black person is killed by a white police officer — as happens here in the U.S. about once a week — Giuliani, like so many others, is desperate to force that slaying into the constricted framework of “The Black Problem.” The blame for such unfortunate events must, somehow, be attributed to some intrinsic quality of these perpetually suspect “foreigners that are not called foreigners.”

The point here is not simply that what Giuliani is arguing is racist, but that he has accepted — and is promoting — a framework that doesn’t allow for any thought or response that could ever be anything other than racist. The framework of The Black Problem allows for different degrees of white supremacy and slightly different gradations of racism, but the construct redefines the subject in such a way that any non-racist response is prohibited. Any such response is, for people like Giuliani, unimaginable.


Class, camo, and corpulence

Nov. 24th, 2014 01:44 pm
wired: Picture of me smiling (Default)
[personal profile] wired
I needed winter boots. No, real winter boots, rated to at least -25F which means at least 400 grams of insulation. My commute is 90 minutes in bad weather, not counting the increased possibility of me having to walk out of a bad situation, like a did a couple times last year while winter bike commuting.

45NRTH's bike-specific WOLVHAMMER winter boots have 200 grams. And are designed for men.

REI suggested Merrell's Polarand 8: 200-400 grams, designed for men.

So I was a little frustrated. Like many women, I have a narrower heel, and although I can wear men's shoes because my feet are big enough, heel slip when you are biking is a pain.

Then Laura pointed out I should look at hunting boots. Which I hadn't thought of, because, let me clear, even though I was raised in hunting country, with hunting classmates, my class issues prevented me from thinking of it as a solution. There are at least a dozen women's-designed hunting boots that run from 400 to 2000 grams of insulation. I got the Ladyhawk boots from Red Wing. Because you know who needs high-performance, low-temperature, walk-all-day boots? Hunters. Snowmobilers.

You know who can get away with 200 grams of insulation in their boots because they are never facing being out in the cold for days if something goes wrong? Rich people from SeattleI. I mean, not 100%, but I feel like there is a significant difference in use between "ski trip" and "hunting trip".

And the weird thing about class is that it's not like hunting is cheap. Guns are expensive, ammunition is currently ruinously expensive. You can't really fit a dear carcass on top of a Prius, so it changes your transportation needs. It costs money to get your deer processed. You need boots, outdoor gear, jackets, scent blocker. You may use deer licks, deer stands, etc. * But wearing camo and carhartt, that's... redneck, that's rural, that's white-trashy.

So, anyway, those Red Wing boots I wanted, they sell them at Gander Mountain, which I had never been into. IT WAS A REVELATION.

I am women's size 18-20, which puts me right at the bleeding edge of "straight sizes" (which is to say, not plus size). I spend a lot of time looking at women's bike clothes and outdoor gear and thinking "extra large in what universe?". For example, this Pearl Izumi base layer is $75 and the XL sizing is 40-42 inch chest. THAT'S MY WAIST. My chest is 49 right now. So I reluctantly slouch off to men's where the XXL will just barely fit me. Except not really, because I'm not shaped like a man. By comparison, let's go look at a technical base layer at Gander Mountain. What's that? You sell it in 3x, which is a 52 inch bust? Oh, and this one is $30? Rain pants in 3X? Ok, then.

So why the difference? Why doesn't REI want my considerable investment in outdoor gear? I think it is about who has an acceptable body. Just like Lulu Lemon doesn't sell yoga pants over size 6, REI does not care about women outside a narrow band of acceptable body size exercising. And that's possible for them because it's really radical to be big, to be fat, to be a woman, and to exercise. I can tell, because almost all the harassment I get on my bike has to do with the fact that I'm a fat bitch (I love the un-gendered nature of winter gear so much). The fatter you are, the more people feel entitled to yell at you to leave the public arena. Because you are not acceptable, you are not high-class enough to be skinny and exercising for the sake of exercising and getting rewarded for doing it publicly. I am only a couple sizes bigger than an average american woman, and that is largely because I have the height and build of the average american man. I am not that different than MOST WOMEN. And yet, I don't deserve exercise gear because no one wants to see "a fat bitch" exercising in public.

By the way, the last man who yelled that at me? Outweighed me by at least 75 pounds. But because I am female, I am societally obligated to be decorative at all times, to all passersby.

Which brings me back to hunting gear. it's not about performative exercise, or indeed, exercise in public. It is an activity that people mostly do with intimates -- family or close friends. It is very much about tradition and family, and not about what random strangers think. And making all hunting gear camp is not just about making you hard to see in the woods, but also about an in-group marking that says "I am wearing gear that I bought to do something specific". It's not any different than bike herds and Chrome bags or embroidery nerds and thread-cutting necklaces. I think that's why I feel uncomfortable in camo, because I am flagging inaccurately.

It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for not getting frostbite in my toes!

*I'm using deer hunting as the example here, because big game hunting is a different thing, class-wise.
minim_calibre: (Default)
[personal profile] minim_calibre
I am so undermotivated you guys. So undermotivated.

ANYHOW. I'm not doing that whole TELL ME WHAT TO POST ABOUT! thing exactly, because I always do one or two, lose track of time, and then feel tremendous guilt for not doing the rest. Still, I have things I feel I want to write up, so maybe listing them will make me do so.
  • Top ten perfumes in rotation, a round up by me of What I'm Wearing.
  • Confessions of a perfume collector (or, why I feel like such an elitist little snob in Sephora these days).
  • I whine about writing so you all can feel better about your progress or process! AKA, what happened to my ability to bang out words? (Life, Min. Life happened.)
  • Movies I've seen and loved that WERE NOT Captain America: the Winter Solider! Hey, there have been some this year! No, really! And some didn't even have Chris Evans! (The two movies I saw this year other than CA:TWS that left the strongest impression on me were Snowpiercer and Under the Skin. For the record. Had either of them been out when I was in college, I would probably have spent most of my time outside of class watching them. My taste in movies when I was in my late teens, early twenties was far more indie and arthouse than it has been in my post-BA life. Sometimes, I miss that me.)
  • Sitcoms: when did I become That Person? Or, why I have strong feelings about Winston Bishop and his need for a strong storyline, am in mourning for Selfie, use Ben Wyatt as a verb, and freak out if I miss Brooklyn Nine Nine, yet keep not caring that I'm behind on every drama I used to watch. 
  • I'm sure there's something else about which I am forgetting, so this is a placeholder for all that. Yes. Placeholder.
  • But it's probably something about Sam Wilson. Possibly about my decision to figure out how to hack together a Sam bobblehead, and the difficulties in finding the right body for that particular hack.
All that said, if anyone has anything in particular not addressed in the especially pathetic bullet points above, hey, I can pretend I'll get around to trying.

(no subject)

Nov. 24th, 2014 12:42 pm
twistedchick: Cam Mitchell pitching a holy fit in the kitchen (pitch a holy fit)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Farewell to the Mayor for Life.

I went out this morning in search of three things: a filter for the humidifier, a new wallet, and moleskin to repair the insides of two pairs of boots... cut for length, and not just a little exasperation )

ETA: Aaaaand that was the last of my energy for today, and probably till Thursday.

(no subject)

Nov. 24th, 2014 11:02 am
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[personal profile] telophase
Toby and I spent the weekend playing Dragon Age: The Loadening. Yes, its real subtitle is Inquisition, but the load screens are diabolically long.

And when I mean that we played it, is that he handled the controls while I watched. When the character got to a decision point that affected plot, I made the choice, and Toby took care of combat. It makes for a nice together thing, especially because I can sit back reading a book or browsing Reddit while he plays, and we both get the experience of amusing glitches, like remarkably porous stairs into which the characters sink ankle-deep, or the horse that climbed up onto a stone fence. Or the amazing sliding horse that skidded sideways through the stables instead of walking.

I attempted to make the main character look like Toby, and failed completely, ending up with a Roman centurion who just can't even. Toby named him "SerTired," short for "SerTiredOfThisShit," and I've been having him make decisions that fit with that persona.

Uplands and Slopes: South Plateau

Nov. 24th, 2014 09:00 am
holyoutlaw: (me meh)
[personal profile] holyoutlaw


The South Plateau is an isolated upland with a separate, unofficial entrance. From the main body of the park, it is only accessible via a steep social trail that is slippery in the winter and friable in the summer. If you think of North Beach Park as a boot, the South Plateau is the heel. The floor of the plateau is surrounded by steep, short walls.

The South Plateau, at 25,000 square feet, is also the largest flat area in the park. As explained in “Park and Restoration History,” the South Plateau was intensively cleared in the summer of 2012 by an independent forest steward.

For more than a year, the only work done in the South Plateau was by Parks Department Natural Area Crew. In the summer of 2014, forest stewards watered and did some after care for the plants in June and July, and there was a work party in September.

The South Plateau has less than 1% conifer cover, but at least 75% deciduous cover.

The target forest type for the South Plateau is Tsuga heterophyllaPseudotsuga menziesii/Polystichum munitumDryopteris expansa (Western hemlock – Douglas fir/Sword fern – Spreading wood fern; TSHE-PSME/POMU-DREX). The reference ecosystem is Mesic-moist conifer and conifer-deciduous mixed forest.

Water Flow

During the rainy season, water accumulates from NW 85th St. and 26th Ave NW (310 feet) (all elevations from Seattle DPD GIS map). It runs to the north uninterrupted by any green scape or drainage system the length of 26th Ave. to 88th St., where it turns to the west. Once at 27th Ave., it turns again to the north and enters the park. The floor of the South Plateau is at 250 feet, giving this run about a 5% grade.

Figure 1: Path of water flow into the South Plateau.

The blue line indicates path of water, which flows toward the top of the map, from 85th St. to the South Plateau. (Source: Seattle Department of Public Development DPDGIS map.)

The blue line indicates path of water, which flows toward the top of the map, from 85th St. to the South Plateau. (Source: Seattle Department of Public Development DPDGIS map.)

Before clearing, the dense ivy and blackberry cover dissipated a lot of the energy of this water flow, spreading it out over the surface of the plateau. However, invasive removal caused a serious erosion problem was caused.

The Parks Department has installed rip rap and forced meanders into the water flow using plantings and fascines (water barriers made of bundles of salmonberry live stakes).

Figure 2: Water flow in May, 2014

Looking up towards the entrance of the park (the gray rocks in the upper right.) This is from about the middle of the fascines.

Looking up towards the entrance of the park (the gray rocks in the upper right.) This is from about the middle of the fascines.

There is still some water flow control to be done on the South Plateau, and it will have to be studied during rain events of different sizes during the fall and winter.

Water control can be improved in this area by adding meanders to the downstream end of the storm runoff, maintaining the existing meanders and fascines, and working with the stream to slow it down and let the water percolate through the plateau.

During the summer drought, the South Plateau has no water source. This leads the soil to dry and harden, becoming very compact. Plant establishment is very slow, but improving.

For more recent observations on South Plateau water issues, please see Water Flow: South Plateau Street Runoff.


At the start of restoration, the South Plateau was a mix of Acer macrophyllum (Big leaf maple) and Alnus rubra (red alder), with a shrub layer almost exclusively of Hedera helix (English ivy) and Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry). Other notable invasives included Lamium galeobdolon (Yellow archangel) and Clematis vitalba (Wild clematis).

There is still a fair amount of remnant and resurgent Hedera helix (ivy). Calystegia sepium (bindweed), Lapsana communis (nipplewort), and Geranium robertianum (herb robert) have also made inroads.

A forest monitoring plot following the Green City protocol was established in the South Plateau in July, 2012, and revisited in August, 2013. Note the difference, in Figures 3 and 4 below, in regenerative invasive trees. This is what happens with overclearing followed by neglect.

Figure 3: Invasive regenerative trees, South Plateau, 2012.

This was the extent of invasive trees in 2012, when the South Plateau was just starting to be cleared. (Source: EarthCorps, 2012)

This was the extent of invasive trees in 2012, when the South Plateau was just starting to be cleared. (Source: EarthCorps, 2012)

Figure 4: Invasive regenerative trees, South Plateau, 2013.

The South Plateau was cleared aggressively in 2012 and early 2013, and then neglected.

The South Plateau was cleared aggressively in 2012 and early 2013, and then neglected.

Invasive Removal and Restoration Plan

Figure 5: South Plateau.

A: Accessible to volunteers. B: Contract or Natural Area Crew. (Source: GSP Reference Map on

A: Accessible to volunteers. B: Contract or Natural Area Crew. (Source: GSP Reference Map on

Subarea A

Subarea A (outlined in blue in Figure 5, above), at 13,000 square feet, is the largest and driest flat area of the park and the most volunteer friendly. Even though it’s surrounded by Subarea B, it can be accessed by walking carefully down some rip rap. This was the area the independent forest steward and her crew worked in.

The over-clearing followed by neglect has left the South Plateau with a plant community that is still very much out of balance. It’s in better shape than when the ivy and blackberry dominated, but it’s still at risk of an invasive-only plant community.

There is still a lot of invasive removal in Subarea A, including annuals such as Lapsana communis (nipplewort). Subarea A could use a lot of wood mulch, both around the establishing plants, and in large areas of relatively bare ground. In the long term, this would ease the compaction of the soil and aid in plant establishment.

Suggested tasks for Subarea A:

  • Mulch around existing plants, and spread mulch to a depth of at least 4” in bare areas of South Plateau.
  • Monitor water flow during rain events. Adjust and repair fascines as necessary.
  • Add meanders to further reaches of South Plateau. The goal is to slow and spread the water, so it stays on the South Plateau and percolates into the soil.
  • Investigate mycelium inoculation as a means of improving soil conditions.
  • Forest stewards continue working in South Plateau one day a month for after care and weeding.
  • Have two work parties a year (one for planting, one for invasive removal and/or after care).

Subarea B

Subarea B is the walls surrounding the plateau part of the South Plateau. It measures approximately 12,000 square feet. The walls are nearly vertical, making it only available for work by the Parks Department Natural Area Crew. There is a rim of the plateau accessible from 27th Ave NW, but it is so narrow that the best approach is to have the Natural Area Crew work on the rim, and the forest stewards or volunteers do aftercare.

Either the Parks Department Natural Area Crew or the volunteers in the summer of 2012 (or both) have done some work on the western slope. On the eastern and southern slopes of the wall, property lines might be an issue.

Further work on Subarea B will be done by the Parks Department Natural Area Crew. Some of the work could be done at the same time as working on the South or West Slopes (see below).

Suggested tasks for Subarea B:

  • Remove resurgent invasives and increase density in cleared areas.
  • Remove ivy and put survival rings on trees on the northern edges of the South Plateau.
  • Coordinate work on the northern edges of the South Plateau with work done on the South Slope.


Department of Planning and Development. 2007. City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development GIS map. (Dates of accession various.)

EarthCorps. 2012. North Beach Park South Plateau Baseline Report. (unpublished document). EarthCorps, Seattle.

EarthCorps. 2013. North Beach Park South Plateau Monitoring Report. (unpublished document). EarthCorps, Seattle.

Green Seattle Partnership, 2014. GSP Reference Map on,47.374,-121.7945,47.7577 (Dates of accession various.)

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

Make Your Own Story

Nov. 24th, 2014 08:47 am
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[personal profile] deirdre


(Product link on Redbubble.)

I wrote this piece in July after a particularly frustrating week.

One of those pieces of writing advice came back up (like vomit) again this week, and I’ve been in more discussions than I’d ever hope to be about it. I’ve reduced it to two things that really annoy me.

Failing to Respect Other People’s Writing Processes

I wish I had an easy process. I’ve tried. It’s not some moral failure on my part that I can’t outline then write a book. It’s that the energy of the book fizzles when I do it that way, and then I can’t actually write anything interesting.

Your process is your process. You can fuss with it a bit, but not that much. I still think Karen Joy Fowler is absolutely correct.

Dumping One’s Frustration with the Business of Writing on Others

All that advice about what’s “easier” or “harder” to sell onto people? (Anything can sell if it’s done well enough. Sometimes even if it’s not.)

Telling people that won’t sell? (Is that useful in this day and age?)

Telling someone their story is fatally flawed? (All story structures have flaws.)

Anyone who’s been around the block more than a few times will have had some hard knocks along the way. They hurt, and they shape the directions we turn, because we turn to avoid the pain. Sometimes, like I did for years, we just stand frozen in place, paralyzed.

The Responsibility of Teachers

It’s the responsibility of teachers not to stomp all over fragile creative processes or invalidate them.

It’s also the responsibility of teachers to not dump so much of one’s own pain about creative endeavors that one quashes a fledgling voice.

And Now for a Word from Lady Gaga

Song starts 2:30 in.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Monday, November 24th

Nov. 24th, 2014 10:30 am
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[personal profile] alexandraerin
The Daily Report

So, last week ended up being a more high-pressure/high-demand situation than anyone had expected going into it, plus the netbook I have been traveling with all but stopped working, which just added to the stress. Everything kind of came to a head Saturday. Without getting into details, I'll just say that it's going to take some decompressing before I get back into the swing of things.

My plan right now is to resume Tales of MU on Wednedsay, updating it Wednesday and Friday. Next week it'll be Tuesday and Thursday, and then I'll decide whether to stick with Tuesday and Thursday through the holidays (likely), or go back to every other week day.

The State of the Me

Got home really late last night, but slept really well. Today I am dealing with muscle soreness in my legs from a greater than usual level of exertion on Saturday, but otherwise feeling fine.

Plans For Today

Get used to being home again, process, decompress.

Notes to self

Nov. 24th, 2014 03:21 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
I am going to try to get to:

(I am still apparently too brainwrong to reliably book tickets for myself for things I want to go to, let alone other folk, so it'd be lovely to see you but I am not going to cope w organising because brains; sorry!)

supergee's laws of stupidity

Nov. 24th, 2014 08:52 am
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[personal profile] supergee
1. A corporation will do things too stupid for a person to do.

2. A government will do things too stupid for a corporation to do.

3. The bigger a corporation gets, the more it resembles a government.

General election murblings

Nov. 24th, 2014 01:38 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
I have been saying for some time that I really need to look at voting statistics for my borough in order to determine whether I need to vote for my (mostly competent, keeps trying to pick twitter fights with Julian Huppert) Labour MP Andrew Slaughter in order to avoid a Tory, or whether Andy's sufficiently safe that I can vote LD or Green instead depending on policies and candidates.

As it turns out, there isn't enough record to make a good call because the borough's only bloody existed since like 2010 (in its most recent incarnation; it previously existed 1885-1918 and 1983-1997, but I'm not poking at boundary maps hard enough to work out whether that's meaningful for my purposes). Anyway, it looks like Andy's sufficiently safe that I can vote according to my politics + desire for candidates without risking getting a bloody Conservative in; which means I will wait for Green & LD candidates to be announced and then make my mind up. (For all Andy annoys me he does mostly respond plausibly to letters and I approve of his interactions with the NHS, so.)
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[personal profile] bibliogramma

No author who chooses to write about Egypt in the 18th Dynasty, and in particular the Amarna period, can ignore three crucial questions: "whatever happened to Nefertiti," "just who the hell was Smenkhare," and "who were Tutankhamen's parents." Equally true, any speculations on these questions advanced prior to the 2010 announcement of the results of DNA testing on the remains of Tutankhamen and a number of other mummified remains, some previously identified (such the the mummy known as "the Older Lady, now identified as Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III) and some known only by the numbering of their burial chambres (such as KV55, often believed to have been Smenkhare) and KV35YL, also known as the Younger Lady), must be re-evaluated in light of scientific data unavailable when those speculations were originally made.

Christine El-Mahdy, writing before the DNA testing, proposes interesting, plausible, and, at least in part, still viable answers to the first two questions, and as many other Egyptologists had done, goes astray on the third. Through careful analysis of inscriptions dating back to Akhenaten's grandparents, El-Mahdy proposes a timeline consisting of a series of co-regnancies and intermarriages between the royal family and another powerful family of hereditary court officials which challenges many of the commonly-held perceptions of the politics of the Amarna period. Her elegant solution to the questions dealing with Nefertiti and Smenkhare (one also proposed by other Egyptologists) is that they are, in fact, the same person. Nefertiti disappears from inscriptions as Smenkhare, the mysterious figure chosen as co-ruler by Akhenaten himself, appears, they share many titles and epithets, and Nefertiti was a powerful queen who already shared many of the Pharoah's royal duties. Why did this change in her status, from Great Wife Nefertiti to co-ruler Smenkhare, occur, and why at just that time? El-Madhy, through analysis of regnal numbers and other time-sensitive data, concludes that Akhenaten, who was personally unsuited to kingship, a dreamer and philosopher, never actually ruled alone; that he was co-ruler with his father Amenhotep III for the first 12 years of his reign, and then co-ruler with Nefertiti/Smenkhare for the remainder of his reign, until his death. Nefertiti, having taken as a ceremonial Great Wife her own daughter Meritaten, then ruled alone for a few years following her husband's death, until both she and Meritaten disappear and Tutankhamen, now married to the last surviving daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, comes to the throne, a boy king who himself will not rule long.

Nothing in the DNA findings invalidates any of this. What it does invalidate is El-Mahdy's theory that when Nefertiti became co-rulet, taking a Great Wife of her own, Akhenaten chose as his new official consort a secondary wife known as Kiya (who El-Mahdy identifies with a Mittani princess originally intended to be a secondary wife of Amenhotep III, but who arrived in Egypt after the older king's death) who gave birth in the following year to Tutankamen.

We now know that Tutankhamen's parents were the two mummies known as KV55 and KV35YL, and that the most commonly advanced interpretation of the DNA results indicates that these two individuals were full brother and sister, both children of Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye. The age at death of KV55 has been debated, sone estimates place him as young as 20, some as old as 40. Amunhotep had two known sons, Thutmose, who died in late adolescence of unknown causes, and Akhenaten. Unless there was a third unmentioned son (perhaps the mysterious Smenkhare?), KV55 is Akhenaton, as Thutmose died long before Tutankhamen could have been conceived.

It should be noted that a minority interpretation of the DNA suggests that KV35YL could have been, not Akhenaten's sister, but Nefertiti, who is thought by some Egyptologists (including El-Mahdy) to have been Akhenaten's first cousin and the daughter of a bloodline that had provided three generations of wives to the 18th Dynasty kings - a situation which could statistically have produced a commonality of genetic material in the same range as a sibling relationship.

El-Mahdy, while proven wrong in some of her conclusions by the DNA evidence, provides some interesting insights and theories about many of the other mysteries of the late 18th Dynasty. Her writing is accessible to a general readership and she explains many of the complexities associated with the questions surrounding the Amarna period with clarity. The book itself is a fascinating look at the processes historians and archeologists must go through in sorting through often conflicting theories and inconclusive evidence in an attempt to discover "what really happened" in any era.


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