BVC Eats: Cold Chinese Pig’s Feet

 If you go to a Cantonese restaurant for a twelve-course banquet this dish will often be part of the first course, the cold-plate appetizer along with pickled turnip, maybe some cold squid or seaweed. Cold Chinese pigs’ feet is a traditional favorite, cheap, easy to prepare, quick to serve, and freezable. The only tricky thing might be actually finding the pigs’ feet. Your grocery store may not have them, and you’ll have to shop at a Hispanic or Asian store. Buy the ginger and star anise there too. This recipe scales up easily, as long as you have a big enough kettle.

Continue reading


The Rambling Writer Explores More Greek Islands, Part 28: A Naxos Fishing Village

Thor and I visit a quiet coastal village as the tourist season winds down, then crawl into a Mycenaean domed tomb. Stay with us!

NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.

If you were with us last week on our drive around the rugged north coast of Naxos, you’ll recall that we were paying homage to the giant unfinished statue of Dionysos. Sometimes called a kouros, although it doesn’t adhere to the style of the naked-youth statues, it lies in an Archaic open-air mine overlooking the sea and the village of Apollon. (Here we might reopen the raging controversy over which god the bearded statue was intended to represent — Apollo or the island’s patron Dionysos. We have firmly sided with the locals: He’s Dionysos. There.) Continue reading


New Worlds: Three If by . . . Something Else

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Under normal conditions, human beings really only have two options for how to get someplace: go via land, or via water. But we’ve always stared at birds in the sky and thought about what it would be like to join them — plus, science fiction and fantasy writers have the option of positing travel via magic or imaginary technology. So let’s take a look at those possibilities.

Continue reading



I was reading yet another piece on how cell phones (in particular) are destroying our society. It purported to be an article on quiet places, but it was really about a place where people aren’t able to have cell service and WiFi because it’s near an observatory that uses radio waves and other services would interfere with that work.

It obviously wasn’t quiet, because there were cars around, except at the observatory itself (where spark plugs can cause trouble, too).

I also read a piece about summer visitors in a rural place in France who are trying to get rid of their neighbor’s rooster because they want “quiet.”

A few years back I went hiking in the Ventana Wilderness. Get far enough into that back country (and you’d better be a well-equipped and skilled backpacker to do it), and you will hear few noises of civilization. Maybe a plane will fly overhead.

Your cell phone won’t work. But you will hear sounds. Frogs. Bird. Crickets. The Carmel River. Continue reading


Crime Doesn’t Pay … Enough. (MWA-Ha-Ha!)

Crime doesn’t pay…enough” is the motto of Mystery Writers of America (MWA), an organization I joined after the publication of my debut mystery-adventure novel, THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER (from Pegasus Crime). 

The first thing I discovered about MWA was that it has regional chapters. I am part of the NorCal Chapter of the organization. The president of our chapter is the amazing Laurie R. King, whose Mary Russell series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches should be classed as an addictive substance. 

The second thing I discovered was that these regional chapters are very active and social and sponsor or participate in a variety of events. In the past two months, I’ve been to two MWA-sponsored events and expect to participate in several more before the end of the year. 

Continue reading


BVC Announces Confessions of a Piano Demon by Irene Radford

Confessions of a Piano Demon by Irene RadfordCONFESSIONS OF A PIANO DEMON
Artistic Demons 2
by Irene Radford

Music defines Margot Tremayne’s soul. She thinks best when her hands caress a piano keyboard, but all music eludes her since a demon crushed her hands on the eve of winning a prestigious international piano competition.
Continue reading


May Was Convention Month for Deborah

I don’t attend many conventions, and most of the ones I do appear at are local. The last couple of years have presented me with more opportunities. Some have involved a bit of driving and staying either with a friend or in the convention hotel. This year began with one such, FogCon in March. I’d enjoyed last year’s so much, I found a friend to share the hotel room with.

Usually it takes me a while to settle back into my usual schedule after a convention. For one thing, I normally move more slowly through my days, and conversations with family and close friends, while often rich in ideas, are more slowly paced, with lots of pauses to listen deeply and reflect on what has just been said. So I need to “revv up” the pace for conventions and then “spin down” afterward.

This year was not going to cooperate with that principle. I got a good long rest after FogCon, but then back to back conventions in May.

Continue reading


Making an Edwardian Dressing Gown 1: Inspiration

Oh dear, look at her — she’s getting -creative- again. I can’t help it. I just do these things sometimes.

This particular vortex was set off by the Diana Wynne Jones conference, in Bristol August 9-10 this year. Since in conjunction with the appearance of the  Edge to Center trilogy I plan to go to Worldcon in Dublin it was relatively easy to add this to my schedule. And there will be dressing gowns, because Christopher Chant, the wizard in the Chrestomanci novels, is noted for his wildly opulent leisure wear. These things are a challenge, a gage flung down by Life, and I try to always pick them up and enter the lists. Even if it gets very weird indeed!

So, a dressing gown. What should it look like? Here are some inspirational images, after the jump:

Continue reading



I’ve been thinking a lot about reparation. I have not yet come to any conclusions, and will no doubt be pondering and thinking on this more and more.

First, reparation is ‘paying back’ descendents of slaves in America. And other places, but I’m talking America here. But my problem with paying back, and this is why it’s in single quotes, is that paying back isn’t a matter of money. Or it is, but that’s not all. It’s far more complex than that. But how do you pay back for suffering? For torture? For the splitting up of families? For rape? For being treated like an animal? For being treated like vermin? How can money ever be enough?

Second, what can be done beyond money for reparation? Real equality, real equal opportunity, real end of racism–these are the beginning. But how to accomplish that when racism is so very rampant in our culture and seems to be not only getting worse, but growing more acceptable in some areas? It isn’t bothering to hide anymore. That’s good to an extent–you can put out the fires you can see. But bad in that it’s not afraid to hide. It’s feeling strong and defiant. Continue reading


Navigation with Ghosts, Part 2

I have been reminded that I promised my reader more about Washington DC Omni Shoreham Hotel “Ghost Suite”. So, despite my poor record-keeping, here is Part 2.

The story goes, according to the hotel flier, that shortly after 1933 when the Doherty’s occupied the 8thfloor suite—and stayed there until 1973—tragedy struck.

The Doherty’s housekeeper Julia (or Juliette) Brown was a hotel employee—the Executive Housekeeper. She oversaw the care of the family, doing whatever Executive Housekeepers do. Although the exact date of her death is not known, the story goes that late one night, she attempted to call the front desk. When a hotel engineer went up to the Doherty’s 8th floor suite, he found the phone speaker lying on the floor, having fallen from the dead housekeeper’s hand.

Henry Doherty was not a lucky man. His step-daughter Helen Lee Eames Doherty, reported as either an adoptee or as the daughter of Grace, his wife, was introduced into society at a gala event exceeding all expectations, causing a stir in Washington DC elite in the volume of guests, food and drink and a lot of Depression-based criticism. Interestingly, the debut was staged not at the Shoreham but at the Mayflower Hotel, a posh establishment near DuPont Circle.

Continue reading