Friday, July 31, 2009

Narration on PodCastle! Daughter of Botu, by Eugie Foster

We are interrupting our regularly scheduled broadcast....

Just wanted to let you know before it gets old, that one of my major narration projects has just gone live over at the main fantasy podcast magazine - Podcastle.

It's called Daughter of Botu, by Eugie Foster. Eugie Foster is an wonderful writer living in Atlanta and you may have heard any number of her stories in online podcast magazines such as EscapePod, ClonePod, PseudoPod and Drabblecast. You can read more about her and her over 100 publications at her website.

Daughter of Botu, an eastern story of whimsy, can be found in Eugie's short story collection, "Returning My Sister's Face: And other Eastern Stories of Whimsy and Malice" (follow the link to It also received honorable mention in "The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection", edited by Gardner Dozois. It's the story of a young "rabbit", a Daughter of Botu, who meets, falls in love with and marries a local prince. At court, in human form, her life changes drastically, and not necessarily for the good.

I really enjoyed narrating this story. It has a fairy tale quality with delightful, distinct characters.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

USA Trip - part III - Missoula, Montana

The trip out to Missoula was uneventful except for me feeling like doo-doo. We skipped breakfast at the hotel and opted to eat at the airport after checking in. I stupidly decided to eat only fruit salad and drink coffee, forgetting that they weren't going to give us anything at all on the plane. And they didn't! Not even pretzels. I was weak when we arrived in Missoula, but it was lunchtime so we went to this great Burrito place immediately. Tom, Barb & Sam had come to meet us at the airport, so that was a treat, getting to see the whole family right away. Tom had to go back to work after lunch, though.

I hadn't been to visit my brother since they'd finished the addition. The last time I was there, it was just the raw building and they were still living in the old part of the house. Now it looks fantastic with a wonderful 2 story Great Room and the master bedroom upstairs above the new garage.

Our first evening there we made a production of making homemade pasta with a fish Alfredo sauce, which was just divine. We tried to use the KitchenAid pasta making attachment, but the recipe was too sticky so we ended up using the hand-cranked pasta-maker. It's basically the same as the one we have, but we have a motor attachment. It was fun, everyone got involved.

I celebrated my 40th birthday on July 8th and Tom, Barb & Sammy got me a pedicure treatment at a local fancy spa. We managed to get an appointment on my birthday, so I had beautiful feet and bright red toenails for the rest of the trip! We went out to dinner with Barb's sister, Nancy and her husband, Shawn. The boys (who are of an age) stayed with the babysitter. We went to The Silk Road an interesting restaurant which serves an eclectic collection of international dishes in tapas size. You are meant to share and it was wonderful. You can even vote on the coming month's offerings on their website. After an extended dinner we headed back to Nancy and Shawn's and had cake and fireworks. They bought me a grasshopper cake. Let me just say that mint and chocolate are just about the perfect combination. Peanut butter and chocolate ranks up there too though. :-) I decided that the first day I don't have any of my birthday cake is the day my birthday is officially over. We ate cake for the next 4 days at least. The boys were so excited about doing the small fireworks they'd saved just for this occasion. We adults played with the sparklers.

We took a drive one day to a Mountain Fire Watch tower on a mountain south of town, the name of which is escaping me. It was a beautiful drive with views of Missoula and the surrounding countryside. We were able to drive all the way to the base of the tower, which is a tall wooden structure with a room at the top with windows on all sides and a walkway all around it. The stairs to the top are more like a ladder, but I had surprising little trouble with them, considering my pregnant condition. Just took it slow - the climbing gets me out of breath in a hurry! At the top we had a view of the entire area and the ranger (who lives in the tower 24 hrs a day 10 days on, 6 days off) pointed out all sorts of things.

On Friday after my birthday, we had a cook-out in the backyard and many friends and their kids came over. We had fish on the grill, including Tom's famed 85 lb. paddle-fish caught a few weeks earlier. There was also salad fresh from the garden and pizza. We played Sam's version of Croquet with the kids. It was a hoot.

On Saturday, we drove up to Seeley Lake, which is only about an hour away. We were going to go all the way to Glacier Nat. Park, but decided the drive was too long. Tom's friends the Pryor's have a cabin right on the lake that we could stay in and it was beautiful! We went on a hike to Morrell Falls, a huge waterfall after an easy 1 and a half hour hike. Afterwards, some of us went for a swim and some of us couldn't get into the glacial waters past our knees! As reward for the hike we went to Lindey's Steakhouse right in town. You go there to have steak, steak or ground steak, with salad, sauteed mushrooms, potatoes and homemade bread. There are no other options. Since the steaks were just huge, Barb and I opted to share. It was the perfect size and a beautiful meal. Magnus' craving for a really good steak while in the US was more than satisfied.

Unfortunately, the evening was slightly marred for me when my insulin pump started acting crazy. Just before dinner (after I'd ordered my virgin strawberry daiquiri) the buttons started acting funny. Barb even drove me back to the cabin to get a fresh battery, since that was the error that came up at one point, but that didn't help one bit. I finally had to leave the battery out and use my emergency set up (my old pen that I used before I got the pump). After dinner I used the one functioning mobile phone among us (Barb, the mother!) to call the Minimed Customer Service. After waiting on hold for an hour (!) the rep told me it sounded like "Severe Static Shock" and I should leave the battery out for at least 2 hours and try again with a completely new battery (not the one I'd already tried). Unfortunately, it was the only spare I'd brought to the lake with us and it was already past 10pm. I decided to make do for the night and buy new batteries in the morning. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well, but my blood sugars were pretty good over-night anyway. The rest for the pump did the trick. Thank God! I was not looking forward to 3 days of the old system before getting back to Germany. Apparently, the Medtronic pumps are susceptible to static shock, which makes the buttons stop functioning. The explanation was that Montana is so dry and we had been on a hike for 4 hours that afternoon. Ugh.

The flight home on Monday consisted of 3 flights (Missoula-->Chicago-->Munich-->Hannover) and 16 hours of travel. We had the worst seats ever, but after having originally declined to trad with us for his window two-seater that he had to himself, a man offered to let me sit there for a couple of hours, so at least I could stretch out and get a little sleep! I was dead when we arrived home and it took me several days to recover and more than a week before I felt at all normal again.

If you'd like to see pictures of this portion of the trip please go to my Facebook photo album.


Monday, July 27, 2009

USA Trip - part II - Chicago

Since Magnus had never spent any time in Chicago (although we've flown through or to it several times on the way home to Madison), we decided to leave Madison a day early and do a bit of the tourist thing there. Our flight to Missoula was the next day at 10am, so that was another reason to go a day before: the trip to Chicago from Madison is about 2 and a half hours and so that would have meant leaving by 6am at the latest. We prevailed upon my dad to spend the day with us there, serving as chauffeur as well. He's always game to drive someplace and it had been many years since he'd been in Chicago too.

Our plan was to drive to Larry Santoro's place near Wrigley field and then make our plans from there. Larry is an author, a director, a movie buff, who I met through StarShipSofa. He's had several stories aired on the podcast and has been active on the forum connected to it. I thought, since we were going to be in Chicago, it would be fun to meet him face-to-face.

Larry lives in a cave. Well, not literally, but he lives in an upstairs apartment (above a restaurant) at the back of the building and there are only windows at the back (short end of the one room), which makes the whole place sort of dark. But cozy! He and Tycelia (his wife) have used the shelves and shelves of DVDs as well as couches to delineate smaller spaces. He must have thousands of DVDs and books. And the biggest TV I've ever seen.

We went out for lunch nearby. I wish I could remember the restaurant's name. It was a Swedish place and they had the best cinnamon rolls ever. Think Cinnabon, but actually good. Not overly sweet, but in a good way. The pecan roll wasn't too shabby either. I had a lovely omelet as well.

After lunch we headed into the city on the L, running commentary courtesy of Larry. It was like getting a guided tour. Our mission was to get on a river boat tour. Unfortunately, we had to wait a bit, due to faulty info we received on the telephone. But that was fine with me. Larry posted his pictures on Flickr. Check them out! The tour was great. We rode first "down river" past all the architecture and then back "up river" toward Lake Michigan. Sound backwards? Well, yes, it is. The City of Chicago, lo, these many years ago, in a feat of engineering diverted the Chicago river to the Mississipi so that they could get fresh water for the city from the lake. We went out onto the lake for a view of the buildings on the lakefront.

From there we walked down Michigan to Millenium Park, where we ogled the "Bean", a huge reflective silver sculpture, in the shape of a bean. It has another, more official name, but damned if I can remember what it is! We also took a look at the bandstand designed by Frank Gehry. I'd love to go to the free open air concerts there!

My dad drove us to our hotel near O'Hare and we went to TGI Friday's for dinner and conversation.

All in all a great day. It was a hoot meeting and getting to know Larry and Tycelia. I bought his book of short stories, "Just North of Nowhere". You can read his Blog "At Home in Bluffton" where he says some very nice things about me, my singing and my narrations. Thanks Larry! It was a pleasure to meet you and spend the day with you.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trip to the US - last one for a while

This is not at all career related, but I expect my blogging in that respect will take a back seat to more personal themes in the coming months. Hope that's ok with you!

So now that I've entered my official 7th month of pregnancy, I won't be traveling very much any more. No more airplanes for me.

We returned last week from our last overseas trip. This time to the USA. We visited family in Madison, Wisconsin and Missoula, Montana as well as a pit-stop to meet the famous Larry Santoro in Chicago in between.

We arrived much later on Wed. 1 July than I had realized we would. When we got out of customs and baggage claim at O'Hare airport, it looked like we just might catch the 4:00pm Van Galder bus to Madison after all, so we went chasing from Terminal to terminal, but no luck, it left without us. The next one didn't leave till 5:30pm and it was a good thing actually because when we sat down with ice cream to wait and I went to check my blood sugar, I realized I must have left my monitor on the plane. Panic!! But Swiss Air was amazing. I went to the ticket desk and they called it in and while I waited (maybe 10 minutes) someone showed up with it! Phew! We arrived in Madison at about 8:30pm and my mom picked us up. We went straight home and had sandwiches for dinner.

The next few days were basically filled with spending time with my parents, eating, doing some shopping, eating, sleeping and eating some more.

We celebrated Independence Day with fireworks at Elver Park (with my dad) on July 3 and by watching the annual Greentree 4th of July parade, which begins at my old elementary school (Falk) and ends at the park (Clayton), and always goes right past our house. Magnus and I helped my oldest childhood friend Naomi and her son Riley decorate his bike, which is an essential part of the tradition. This year the weather was unseasonably cool and it rained for 5 minutes on either side of the 5 minute parade (for a total of 15 minutes). After brunch with friends and neighbors we went down to the park for the festivities. I was looking forward to games and contests (3-legged race, potato sack race, dunking machine) and other attractions (food, drink and a pony ride), but was bitterly disappointed. There were only a few games for the kids and some food and pop. Later they did have a great magician who performed for about 20 minutes. He was fun. Patty, one of my best friends from High School and CapitolAires Drum Corps came by briefly with her sister. It was great to see her again and catch up. Naomi invited us to her house for a cookout that evening.

On Sunday, the day before we left Madison, my dad hosted a cookout and I made a blanket invitation to my friends in Madison. A few key people came (Wendy & Jim, Kathy, Laura) and a couple of people I haven't seen in ages (Diane + newish family and Lola - friend Matt from HS's mother). It was delightful to see all of the them. And my dad served the world's biggest steaks from Jacobson's Meat. I complained bitterly that my belly might be growing beyond all proportions, but my stomach is getting inversly smaller!

Some pictures:

The grand set up in front of Falk Elementary School

Off we go!

Riley and his glorious bike

The masses watching the parade

Part II - Chicago next!