Spaniels In The Pot

…not for cooking

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LETTERS FROM SISTER BOMIA

 

Dear Sister Arilloni,

I hope all is going well at the abbey. Did Sister Grek ever get over her cold? I hope so. Colds are bad enough for we mammals, but for the reptilian folk, they are much worse.

My vacation is still going very well and I have made a few new friends. One of them is a young apprentice wizard from Wurania. Her name is Metaphita and she is just a delight to be around. By turns she is a very serious young student of magic and a young woman who has not spent a lot of time in the wider world. She can be a bit overwhelmed at times, so I try to offer her advice and information and friendship. It seems to help.

Speaking of new friends, I made the acquaintance of a Valdurian gentleman named Aksel Tronin. He’s a former member of the Silver Falcons adventuring company, where he was a swordsman. He’s quite charming and handsome and still quite the swordsman, if you get my meaning. We have spent several evenings and mornings together.

I’ve made several trips into the countryside with different groups. We have been bird watching, flower picking and generally just enjoying the natural world that the Mother Goddess has provided. With the exception of an encounter with some thorncats, all of the excursions have been peaceful and relaxing.

I must go now. Metaphita and I are signed on to a tour of some ruins that the Royal Society of Exploration recently discovered about 20 miles outside the city. It should be interesting. Give my regards to everyone.

Your friend,

Bomia

 

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Where Are The Cookies? I Was Told There Would Be Cookies.

…and milk!
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Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter 8, Part 3: Across America At Random

The trip begins
Artwork is observed

Destination Sign: Gondor

7/28/2009

It was 5:35 in the morning and all of the humans involved in the “Great Random Route Trip To GenCon” were standing on the beach looking out at the Pacific Ocean, the city of San Francisco behind them.

“Now remember, everyone, the exact routes we take from points whatever to whatever are purely up to you, except when there is no more than one choice or when a stopping point is off the interstate.” Phil Lacewood, kilt clad as always, paused to sip his tea. Doc picked up where Phil left off.

“Stopping time is 5:00 pm each day at whatever spot is randomly chosen. Starting times after today will always be 7:00 am, so we are doing 10 hour days. Each leg of the trip will have 3 points where you need to get a geek item. These are being set up now by our dedicated advance team, who left yesterday at 6:00 pm. Nobody knows exactly what the geeky items are, but their general locations will be well marked on your daily maps and the exact location will have a sign.”

“Everyone has a cell phone or other internet connection, so stay in touch.”, Phil said. “If you have trouble or find something cool we should know about, let everyone know. Okay, we’ve got sun up coming in about 5 minutes, so grab a couple more donuts and climb in your rigs. When the whistle blows, we’re off! Have fun and we’ll see you all at stop #1!”

There were 15 vehicles involved in the race, ranging from the Magic Bus to Phil’s heavily modified Saab wagon to a 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille to a Volkswagen bug. All of then held at least 2 people.

The drivers climbed into them and and a few minutes later, a young college student who had been paid $50 to start the race blew a very loud whistle. The race was on.

On the Magic Bus, Doc and Spike were in the cab and everyone else was either in the living room or still in bed. Both men had donuts and a hot drink. Their present route had them driving city streets until they got to the Bay Bridge. Along the way, they pointed out spots that they had visited in years gone by.

“There’s the Doggie Diner we ate at when Mary was pregnant with the twins”, Spike pointed out. “I think she ate more hot dogs on that trip than the previous year.”

Doc chuckled. “Yeah, pregnancy cravings will do that. When Grace was pregnant with Sam, we could not keep enough ice cream in the house for a while there. Then she switched over to thin sliced hard salami.”

They passed old game stores and restaurants and book stores, each one eliciting a memory or two. Eventually, they came to the bridge and not long after that, turned off onto city streets in the East Bay.

Somewhere about 90 minutes into the trip, as they were nearing Vallejo, Winker stepped into the cab.

“I’m taking breakfast orders. What will you two have?”

Spike went with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and Doc opted for a steak & eggs breakfast burrito. Winker left and 15 minutes later a SmartBot arrived with their meals.

About 20 minutes later, while driving along a country road near Fairfield, they got a text from one of their fellow drivers saying there was a “field full of interesting artwork” up ahead. A few minutes later, Doc pulled up and everyone got off the Bus to have a look.

“Everything is made out of cans”, Sasha said as she went into the field for a better look.

True enough, each of the 6 statues was built entirely out of cans that had previously held food or drink. The largest was 15 feet tall and was a man in the middle of a golf swing. A 12 foot tall woman stood nearby in an ice skating pose. Three 7 foot tall kids playing baseball were about 50 feet away and the whole tableau was finished by a 6 foot long dog leaping to catch a Frisbee.

Very sporty”, Grace observed. “I wonder if it was done for the Sacramento Winter Olympics back in 1994?”

Doc was busy taking pictures. He was certain this was not on any Roadside attractions lists, and Roadside Attractions Monthly paid a hundred bucks for finding new stuff.

After a few more minutes, everyone got back into their vehicles and took off. Spike left the cab to go hang out in the living room and was soon replaced by Lulu. She and Doc chatted about various things until they were a few miles outside Dixon, where the first geeky items were. Doc popped open the door at the stop, which was right under a large hand painted sign about 60 feet off a short dead end side road. Lulu jumped out and grabbed one of the 6 inch plush 4 sided dice. As she got back on the Bus, everyone in the living room area cheered.

A bit later, after they had crossed into Sacramento via the I Street Bridge, Doc made a turn down an alley, leaving the 14 other cars behind. He knew that they were all planning on going out Auburn Boulevard until they got to Roseville. But Doc had been listening to the radio and knew that there was an accident on I-80, which would move traffic off to nearby surface streets. He would take a route down a slightly more distant street and avoid the slowdown.

Once the texts about slowing down started coming in, doc waited about 5 minutes, then texted everyone the route to use. He got back many texts, most of which went much like Phil’s text of “Thanks, you cunning bastard”. With a comfortable lead now his, Doc got back on Auburn Blvd and drove as fast as traffic would allow.

All things being equal, the drive from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada, usually takes about 4 hours or so. It had taken out intrepid races 6 hours, which included the stop at Donner Summit to get geeky item #2, a bottle of Jolt! Cola. All cars were now parked in the lot at the Peppermill Casino & Resort, where they would hit the buffet for the last joint lunch of the trip. After today, the rule was “grab lunch where ya can grab it!”.

An hour later, they were on the freeway heading to the next point where they could get off onto side roads. Doc chose to go north of the interstate for two reasons: a long straight stretch of gravel road and a nearly forgotten piece of roadside attraction history.

The First Cat Ranch West Of The Mississippi was, as it turned out, the only cat ranch anywhere. It seems that in the spring of 1897, a couple named Elom and Gussie Hork decided to settle down outside ?????, Nevada and “raise fancy cats to sell back East”. To feed the cats, they raised chickens. Unfortunately, the winter of 1898-1899 was pretty harsh and over the course of a month, bears and coyotes got all of the chickens. Deprived of food, the cats got…unruly. In May of 1869, the local sheriff came out to check on the ranch “cos them two wasn’t right in the head”. He found no trace of the Horks or the cats. The whole self guided tour took less than 15 minutes and cost nothing. Even Grace admitted that the little cat sized corrals and barns were kinda cute looking.

Geeky stop #3 was just west of Winnemucca and the item was an assortment of of convention t-shirts, please take only one. Doc chose an Origins 2001 shirt, mostly because that con had been in Sacramento and he and Spike had first discussed selling their company then.

At just before 5:00 PM, the last car in the race rolled into the Wendover Campground and RV Park in Wendover, Nevada. Conveniently located next to a casino, the racers all agreed that more buffet and some gambling might be in order. The day’s winner for the race were Chuck & Peter Hildreth, who had made great, if bone jarring, time across Nevada in a 1965 Ford Pickup belonging to Chuck. The Magic Bus came in third.

After a few hours of eating, drinking and general merrymaking, everyone went back to their campsites and got some sleep in preparation for Day #2.

Dark Secrets Of The Dog Park

…mostly, they’re about eating poop
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After The Change Came

Series 4

A Day For Books And Walking


Greetings, Dear Readers. I’m back for another entry in the blog. Today, I’ll be telling you about my action packed yesterday. Well, action packed if you call a 24 mile walk to a used book store “action packed”. In point of fact, it was a pretty mellow day.

My favorite used book store here in the Sacramento area is Booktown Used Books, which is just about 12 miles from here, near downtown. It has been in that location since 1928. Arliss Brantner owns it and he is the 4th generation of his family to do so. It’s the largest bookstore in Northern California. The fantasy/science fiction section alone is twice the size our our living room, and our living room is big.

So, with the kids in school and Grace puttering around the house, I set off walking to Booktown. The weather has been great lately, with the spring rains mostly behind us and the summer heat a few weeks away. As I’ve said before, after the Change, downtown Sacramento was moved away from the rivers (American & Sacramento) to a spot 6 miles northeast and now high enough to never flood. As with all cities, towns & villages in the world, we have a Ring Road running in a perfect circle around town. It is located exactly 15 miles out from Sacramento’s Central Tower, where our City Dragon lives.

30 roads and streets run out from city center to the Ring Road. Grace and I live on Greenback Lane, one of the main roads. It meanders like a river toward downtown. Lots of curves, up and down hill, passing through our many greenbelts and farms and residential areas. It’s a nice walk.

Actually, almost all roads in Sacramento meander. There are very few that run straight for more than a mile or two. I probably ought to also point out that you’ll see very few cars on the road. People walk, ride bikes or horses or other animals, roller skate/skateboard, ride flying carpets (Mahmoud’s Enchanted Carpets has, like, 9 locations), or take the anibuses, which run every 15 minutes.

So there I am, at 8:00 in the morning, walking along, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. Birds are singing in the trees, bunnies & squirrels and other wildlife are out doing their thing. I see neighbors tending their gardens or livestock. A few are just sitting on their porches, drinking their morning beverage. Other folks are walking along, including one young couple who are going on a picnic outside the city limits.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Ring Roads also double as city boundaries. They are enchanted to keep dangerous creatures or sapients out, and to a lesser extent mitigate really bad weather, wildfires and earthquakes. That’s why San Francisco will never again have a really terrible earthquake.

I tend to walk a bit faster than most non-mutant humans, so even pausing frequently to look at things or talk to folks or buy a peach milkshake at Bonnie’s Burgers, I’m doing 5 miles an hour. As with any city or town, the closer you get to downtown, the more urban things get. Now, that does not mean houses crammed right next too each other, since by law every home in California has to sit on at least half an acre of land and all urban areas must have extensive greenbelts. That latter is why you often see deer or even elk strolling through our downtown.

At just about the 2.5 hour mark, I reach Booktown. This may well be my 1,000th time there, since I’ve been going there for decades. My first visit was in 1970, a couple of months after I got my driver’s license. It was while I was on Easter break from Hobart’s School for Young Ladies & Gentlemen and on that visit, I bought about 30 books to take back with me, mostly pulp reprints.

Arliss and his wife, Olive, gave me a hearty greeting and advised me that they had gotten in about 5,000 books a week earlier that were now on the shelves. I grabbed a complimentary cup of tea and started looking around. Arliss had British Invasion rock & roll playing and coconut incense burning. Despite being born in 1985, Arliss and Olive are a couple of hippies.

90 minutes later I had a stack of 40 books and magazines, including the British mag “QuestWorld Spectator”, issues 1-4. I paid for them, said goodbye to the Brantners and left the shop to go grab some lunch. On my way to a great Indian buffet, I put the books on Ralph, a dogbus that runs up Fair Oaks Blvd to the Ring Road. He transferred them to Fancy, a bunnybus who transferred them to Waldo, another dogbus. Waldo dropped them off at our front gate and Ben, our main House Elf, transported them to our library.

After a wonderful lunch of Indian food and a mug of pale ale, I began my walk home. I decided to use the footpaths found in the greenbelts and had a great time birdwatching, looking at and talking to various animals, and generally grooving on nature. The walk home took 3.5 hours and when I arrived at the old homestead, I was greeted by the twins and their friends. They were making up a game that I won’t even try to explain, but for about 10 minutes, I was a moving goal post.

Once I got into the house and sat down, Ben showed up with a cold iced tea. After I finished the tea, I was considering a short nap. This plan was abandoned when my green skinned hottie of a wife came and sat on my lap and whispered saucy suggestions in my ear. Later, we ate dinner with the kids and then played some dice games.

All in all, a pretty damned great day.

More bloggage later.

Doc

The Cupcake Gnomes Meet The Pie Pixies

…it was a sweet meeting
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This blog is in part made possibly by my wonderful patrons on Patreon. If you would like to join them in helping me out, go to https://www.patreon.com/DocCross

 

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Sasha Explains It All

Sanctuaries

Hi, folks! In this edition, I’d like to talk about the many Sanctuary areas that the Non-Human Terran Alliance has set up around the world. Some of them are set up just to give NHT a place to live other than small enclaves out in the wild, while others are set up to allow endangered or even extinct species a place to survive. All of them were set up with the use of very advanced technology. I know, because I provided it.

Our first sanctuary, Dog Mountain, was started on January 4th, 1979 and finished 6 months later. This was done using very large robots and lots of nanotech. It was also done 2,000 years ago right here in California, down north of San Diego, where Camp Pendleton is now.

Dog Mountain is really more of a big hill. It’s about 3.5 miles across at the base and rises up 900 feet at the center. It is honeycombed with tunnels and open areas and places for dogs and other species to live. The majority of the outside is very park-like. 200,000 NHT live there, 90% being dogs. I own a rather large home in Dog Mountain. It is a great place.

Our second sanctuary opened a month after Dog Mountain and is located 4,000 years ago in Lake Superior. Wolf Island is actually a chain of three large islands that float just on the surface of the lake. The largest island is 50 miles wide and 80 miles long, the next largest is 90 miles long and 35 miles wide, and the smallest is 45 miles long and 22 miles across. The bridges that connect them are all 5 miles wide and from 11 to 29 miles long. The bridges are heavily planted and hardscaped, so you never really know you are on a bridges.

Due to wolves being, well, wolves, there are only 3,000 on the island, which, like dog island, has tunnels running through the hills for them to live in. There is a very small area at the southernmost point of the southernmost island for visitors of other NHT species. Humans are never allowed on Wolf Island. Given the millennia of mistreatment humans gave wolves, their attitude is understood.

Game, from mice to moose, is plentiful on the island and the wolves manage things very well. NHT wolves live one of the most traditional lifestyles of all NHT species, so they hunt their prey just as their ancestors did. Wolf Island has very little technology.

When the wolf population exceeds 3,000, the excess are given the choice of going into our time to live, or making a journey overland to Wolf Valley, 300 miles away in Canada. Most go there, but a very few decide to go live in the present, usually in another NHT Sanctuary. About half of the young wolves who do this adjust well to the NHT lifestyle. The rest go back to Wolf Valley.

Traveling again to the San Diego region, and then 2,500 years into the past, you come to Rabbit Valley. Set with one end right at the coastline and the other 30 miles to the northeast, this valley is actually protected by mindscreens that keep predators (including humans) out, with the exception of 10 north/south passages that are about a half mile wide. These passages offer easy travel, the better to get predators past the valley.

The valley is designed with wide meadows, many small streams, a few ponds, shady trees and…technology.

Of all the sapients on earth, only rabbit come close to humans in their love of tech. Rabbit valley has electricity (solar & wind), radio & tv stations, a subway (that’s how they get across those predator trails), telephones, theaters, internet…just about everything a modern city might have, except for guns and crime.

Here’s another jaw dropper: Rabbits are the financial wizards of the NHT world. Every NHT company, including my own, has bunnies keeping the books. My own CFO is a rabbit, Sundew Thumper, and I would be lost without her. The NHTA is worth about 5 trillion dollars and rabbits are the reason why.

I should note here that since the creation of the Ottopus, many young rabbits have moved away from finance to study the sciences. These young bucks & does are doing great in their chosen fields.

Of course, every once in a very great while, a young bun decides to completely rebel and go off on a different course. A couple of prime examples are my sister Daisy’s boyfriend, Max, and his best friend, Ollie.

One more note: No other NHT species has as complex a family setup or genealogy as rabbits. We dogs probably come closest, but are still a distant second.

Okay, it looks like I’ve written a lot here, but I also have two kids about to come home from a day out with Uncle Luke and Auntie Misty, so I need to get ready to hear how much fun they had. I’ll continue this piece in the next edition and discuss Sanctuaries outside North America.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross, PhD (x6)

Obviously, Including The Koreans In The Plan Was A Bad Idea

…they ran off to form a boy band

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LETTERS FROM SISTER BOMIA

Dear Sister Arilloni,

Well, here I am at Karrak City on the shore of Lake Vardestar and I’ve got to say, it truly is a beautiful city. The main portion is made up of rose marble buildings rising as high as 8 stories. This is primarily the administration and shopping hub of the city, although there are several very exclusive hotels and restaurants here. All of them are too rich for my pocketbook, or even my tastes. I’m staying in the southern portion of the city, which, while tending to the more economical traveler, still provides a wonderful stay.

I must say that being away from both my adventuring friends and the convent is sometimes a bit odd feeling. I have seldom in my life traveled alone and despite Amella assuring me that it would do me good to get out and about on my own, I sometimes feel a bit adrift. Of course, it has only been two days and I’m sure that the next 5 will find me doing just fine.

As you know, Lake Vardestar is really an inland freshwater sea, 200 mules long and as much as 80 miles across. The northern end is fed by the many rivers and streams that come from the Frozen Land. That end is deep and cold. The southern end is drained by the Great River Utas and the Serpent River. It is much shallower, warmer and has a huge wetland to the west and southwest.

Karrak City is at the halfway point of the lake and gets the benefit of fishermen from both ends selling their catch here. Last night I had a delicious platter of assorted smoked fish and various local cheeses. My breakfast this morning was a wonderful crawfish chowder. I will have to get in some exercise later, or I might come home with some extra pounds.

Well, I must be going now, Sister. I’m heading up into the nearby hills for a nature walk and picnic put on by the local Bird Watchers chapter. Give my regards to Mother Superior and the rest of the sisters.

Your friend,


Bomia

The Springtime Fresh, But Also Rather Spicy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Great 4th Of July Bicycle Race

…co-starring her Auntie Griselda Weeks
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Life On The Magic Bus

 

Chapter 9, Part 1: Across America At Random


Doc makes a case
Grace has doubts

Destination Sign: Suffragette City

6/16/2009

Doc Clay was reading his email when he suddenly let out a loud “Hot Damn Yes!”. Grace, Lucy, Winker and Sasha all looked up from their own emails and gave him varying degrees of the same curious but wary stare.

What now?”, Grace asked.

“Phil Lacewood just suggested a totally cool idea for all of us driving from the West Coast to GenCon this year: a road rally along Interstate 80, from San Francisco to Milwaukee. This would be using roads near the interstate, but not I-80 itself.”

“Sounds like fun!”, Lucy exclaimed with her usual joy.

“Cool! We can see lots of stuff.”, said Sasha, who was still an innocent pup where Doc’s plans were concerned.

Winker sighed and said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Grace just looked at Doc and said “Go on.”

Having been given the spousal green light, Doc continued.

So, we would leave San Fran at sun up a week before the Tuesday before the con. There will be a fishbowl with routes and stops in it on index cards. One will be drawn every morning and we’ll all leave at first light and stop at 4:00 in the afternoon. It will be hella fun, baby!”

Having been through nearly 40 years of “hella fun” plans, Grace gave this about a 70% chance of actually being fun. Considering all the things she had done in her life that had far less chance of success, she decided to give it a go.

“Okay, we’ll give this mad idea a try, but you tell Phil that I haven’t forgotten the scavenger hunt at GenCon 1998.”

Doc did a fair job of looking shocked and wounded.

“Aw, baby, that was a whole different thing. It would have turned out perfectly fine if the Milwaukee police hadn’t overreacted.”

“Overreacted? You were all stealing hubcaps! You had to hide in a tree for 3 hours and Phil jumped into the river to get away. One other guy hid in a dumpster.”

We were going to put those hubcaps back at some point.”

“MmmHmmm”

Everyone in the room, including the dogs who were now pretending to watch an exciting commercial on television, knew that “MmmHmmm” was Gracespeak for “Better change the subject”.

Doc blinked and quickly launched into a speech about how fun it would be to hang with friends and get off the interstate and maybe, just maybe, see a few roadside attractions that they might have missed in years past.

Winker let out a laugh. “And that sound you heard was the other shoe dropping. He’s gonna use this trip to write another series for Roadside Attraction Quarterly.”

Doc looked at Winker with fake anger. “Laugh it up, old girl, but money is money. And now, I’m off to start getting things ready for the trip. It’s only 6 weeks away!”

After he left the room, Grace and The Girls looked at each other, smiling.

“Well,” Grace sighed, “At least we’ll know what he’s up to between now and July 28th.”