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Loved the entrepreneurship of this sign

Loved the entrepreneurship of this sign. We found it in Petra among the many places to buy food, drink, souvenirs and even books.

Ok, so you're going to be on a long flight and you're buying your next book but your hands are tired. Why not also buy a book holder?

Ok, so you’re going to be on a long flight and you’re buying your next book but your hands are tired. Why not also buy a book holder? The bookshop in Bangkok Airport.

Can't think why I took photos of bookshops wherever I was. This one was in Bangkok Airport, we'd only left Australia a few hours ago and I'm already obsessed.

Can’t think why I took photos of bookshops wherever I was. This one was in Bangkok Airport, we’d only left Australia a few hours ago and I’m already obsessed.

These were at the hotel we stayed at in Petra, Jordan. I didn't read them all as I was just too tired.

These were at the hotel we stayed at in Petra, Jordan. I didn’t read them all as I was just too tired.

This photo should appear in my article on language but I'm sure I have enough examples. The Jordanians kept adding in extra sounds, 'earthquake' became 'earthequake'.

This photo should appear in my article on language but I’m sure I have enough examples. The Jordanians kept adding in extra sounds, ‘earthquake’ became ‘earthequake’.

K is for Ellen Klages

Today I’ve ummm and ahhhed about which author to cover, I’ve opened far too many Wikipedia pages and gradually whittled them away to half a dozen only to then go through each author again until I finally only had two people. Do I go with Jean E Karl who edited Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K Le Guin or Ellen Klages? I finally settled on Klages specifically because of this entry in the Tor blog about her Short Fiction and Writing Process. It’s a piece of absolute beauty, explains the gorgeousness of short stories and makes me feel good about my writing even though I’m nowhere near her standard.

Klages has won awards, Nebulas and the like, she is also a stand-up comic and what originally made me keep her Wikipedia page open is her auctions for Wiscon Tiptree. She’s the auctioneer and has apparently spruiked an interesting range of things Mary Doria Russell’s brassiere, a Xena lawn butt and some rather more strange things.

She has written a lot of short stories, the name of one springs out at me and one day I’ll read it to see if it shows the promise of the title, Möbius, Stripped of a Muse published in 2007 sounds like there’s magic in there somewhere but also that it should be based on science fiction.

Jonathan Strahan is a fantastic collector of short stories and has included several of Klages works in his The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year series. In case you haven’t seen the one published last year I reviewed it here and you can buy it here, it’s awesome despite not containing any works by Klages. One book you can buy that also gives me commission is Portable Childhoods, short stories by Klages, it includes an excerpt from The Green Glass Sea so you get the best of both worlds in one book.

Digging, but only for a day

Today’s article is my first real article about my Israel trip. As with the rest of them it will be full of photos and I’ll try to explain them through my excitement.

An archaelogical dig for a day! I can’t tell you how excited I was to actually get to a real dig and find myself working happily. Relatively happily, everyone else was finding stuff but me and there was a reason for it but let me go back a little and give you a link in case you want to organise your own trip there.

Arranged by Archaeological Seminars, who organise the actual dig, you get yourself out there, pay for entry to the National Park of Beit Guvrin, food (although there is a place for souvenirs, drinks and ice creams, I didn’t check them out for actual food type stuff as we’d been provided a box lunch) and then getting yourself back again. Wear clothes that don’t matter if they get dusty and dirty, I was there in summer so I only had dust to contend with but in winter it might be a different proposition. Take water! If in summer, then take more!! The buildings are hardly buildings as they’re fairly temporary, for the duration of the dig only.

Tel Maresha building

Tel Maresha building

We were taken under a tree to give us some shade from the sun while our guide archaelogist gave us a lecture (entertained us with some facts of the area and its history, she was very entertaining but I only remember Maccabees and nothing else). She also spoke to us about what we were to do and to make sure to keep things where they belonged. You can go to Wikipedia if you want more, it shows how some of the area is already fully excavated but there’s still plenty more to do.

Tel Maresha unprepossessing scenery

Tel Maresha unprepossessing scenery

Following which we then ditched all our stuff together and were taken into a hole. It was a small opening with more of a ladder than stairs and ever so much cooler. Another pep talk to make sure we worked and didn’t destroy things. Then we were told to take three buckets and two pieces of equipment, find a place and start digging. With the pick we had to be very careful to scrape and not dig, everything we broke would have to be glued back together so they want the pieces as big as possible. Everything we dug up had to be put into buckets for further work up top, so if you happen to find something then it went in one bucket (actually two together to indicate a ‘finds’ bucket so we wouldn’t then put other stuff on top of it) while everything else went in another bucket. Only half fill your buckets as each bucket still had to be taken up the ladder/stairs and dealt with outside.

Tel Maresha inside

The ceiling of the excavation.

The next three photos are some of my finds, I don’t want to bore you and the photos weren’t that good as I was being careful of my phone and my hands are sort of dirty.

Tel Maresha a fin2d

Two finds, a shell and a shard

Apparently shells were crushed and used on the walls so what looks like an insignificant find is actually quite valuable.

Tel Maresha a find

One shard here

Yes, I did actually find stuff and let me explain my cryptic comment from above. Some people were working on totally new and unexplored parts of the room while others (me) were working on parts that had already been dug before and the hole filled in after they’d finished. This means that I had to get through all the stuff that had already been looked at before getting down to the finding stuff layer.

We had to be certain to leave the room safe for the next person to come in and dig so if we’d made a hole we had to cave the sides of the hole in so the next person didn’t fall into it and this was what I was working on, someone had previously dug a hole then caved in the sides.

Tel Maresha a find3

2 shards!

After doing this for a very short time, far too short, I could have gone on for ages longer. We were organised to combine our finds into one bucket and then take our half filled buckets up top for sieving. The next photo is the sieve, it’s big enough that we needed one person on each end and another pouring the bucket into it and then looking. This bit is quite fast so you could easily go through half a dozen buckets in only a few minutes.

Tel Maresha sieves

Sieves for sieving…

All the finds were then placed together. There were two rooms downstairs, room Archie and room Jango, all the buckets and finds had to be kept together so that the actual archaeologists could trace them back to the appropriate room and what you see in the next photo is finds from room Archie. If you look at the bucket on the right you can see some rather large shards, if these had been broken up by digging then it would have created more work for whoever was piecing them together.

Tel Maresha sorting

All the finds from one room

After all of that we were taken on a tour of the next dig in Tel Maresha. It’s a 20 minute walk, crawl or whatever. I chickened out as I’m not good at climbing and didn’t think I’d get down or up again. I wouldn’t have managed to take photos as there’s only candlelight down there.

Tel Maresha beginning a new hole

The new, unexcavated hole

Following that we then went to another ‘building’ for a final ‘well done’ talk before being given the chance to buy tshirts and take shards that were being discarded. I don’t remember the details but I’m guessing these shards are leftovers after the experts have washed and put together everything they possibly can. Yes, I bought a tshirt and brought home some shards!

I’m back and ready to roll

Actually I lie a little. Yes, I’m back but I’m so disorganised that I’ve only just now copied my photos onto my computer. We got back from Israel on Friday morning and managed to stay awake until about 9:30pm when I conked out the moment I closed my eyes in bed…I was also falling asleep sitting up so I suspect I was a mite tired. I’ll be getting stuff done despite not being ready.

The trip was wonderful, I had a few tummy problems thanks to eating the wrong things but was introduced to a new solution which works and I’m terribly grateful as it made the rest of that day (and some other days) workable. Imagine going all that way and then not being able to do touristy stuff due to stomach pain and diarrhea, sage tea to the rescue! It tasted dreadful but worked and I managed to finish the walk through Petra minus pain and minus more toilet visits.

Niche in Petra

Niche in Petra

This photo encapsulates the trip. We saw holes in cliffs in Petra, Qumran and I also managed to get into an archeological dig for one day whereby I was in a hole in a cliff. I will be talking about Petra, Qumran and the dig as well as books, language and some other things over the next couple of weeks. I will continue looking at the alphabet with female science fiction authors and have plenty of photos for Friday Photos.

Friday Photos

Backed Beans

Insert caption here: your meaning of ‘Backed beans’

Eggs

I loved this cafe, food served pretentiously but with a bare bones menu complete with typos

Borrowers

The Complete Borrowers by Mary Norton. Loved this series of adventures when I was young and just because they’re so great here’s a link to buy from Booktopia. I’ve chosen the compilation volume rather than books in a slipcase as it’s cheaper.

J is for N. K. Jemisin

J has been the hardest letter to decide to date. I ended up with two totally worthy candidates and the only difference was their age, I went with the older writer as I figured she’d have more of a handle on the issues they were both espousing.

N. K. Jemisin, born in America, writer, psychologist and career counsellor. In other words, she counsels people who have sent out 50 resumes and not had one response. I can relate to her clients but that’s not why I chose her. She’s also very much into getting a fair go for everyone and if you go and read this article from her blog you’ll understand.

It starts off with the Hugos:

So many people have said so many good things about the Hugo Awards debacle in the past few days. I haven’t said much myself because a) I’ve got a book to write, and b) I don’t really care. I mean, I do care about the Hugos; this is a respectable award…

and continues to talk about the problem behind the Hugos and why things needs to change. So, the problem is one of race and how straight white men feel entitled to win everything just because it’s always been that way and they don’t understand that you need to win based on talent. Jemisin is eloquent and explains the situation very nicely but from an Americancentric point of view…understandable as she’s American.

I fully intend to read some of her works and to encourage you to do the same here is The Inheritance Trilogy.

Friday Photos

I happened to stop in Fairfield shopping centre the other day. It looked like a good place for a bookshop and I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, I stopped deliberately so I can find a bookshop. I’ve heard of Fairfield Books but it’s about a 40 minute drive from my place so I’ve never been there. I could quite easily have taken more photos as it’s a fairly photogenic and inviting shop. If you’re nearby you should drop in, 117A Station Street, Fairfield.

Cherubim Books Fairfield Books

This is their Cherubim display.

Enid Blyton Fairfield Books

Then they had a magical Enid Blyton display. It’s very tempting.

Kids audiobooks Fairfield Books

While they had audio books dotted around the shop I couldn’t resist this display they had of Kids’ Audiobooks.

I is for Taibah Al-Ibrahim

I can give you even less information about Taibah Al-Ibrahim than I could about Carine Heidmann. Al-Ibrahim writes in Arabic and was the first science fiction writer in Kuwait. She has written several books, the translated title of one book is The Extinction of Men, published in 1990. And she was a candidate for the government in 2008, the third constituency.

She must be a pretty amazing person to be the first to write science fiction in her country. And even more amazing as she also ran for government, I don’t know if she got in or how far she got in her campaign but I’m impressed.

I could have written about Janis Ian, but I was more impressed by Al-Ibrahim.

Friday Photos

If you look carefully you’ll see this is the large print section of the Fairfield Library. You’ll need to look really closely as I’ve managed to take a photo that doesn’t actually include the words ‘Fairfield Library’.

This is a clock embedded into the walkway outside Fairfield Library.

This is a clock embedded into the walkway outside Fairfield Library.

No money or bananas

I don’t understand but I guarantee this is a real sign in a real shop window. I do wonder what they thought of me taking a photo of their sign.

H is for Carine Heidmann

Looking through my copies of ASIM I found Carine Heidmann and after a quick (and then slow) read of her short story I figured she’d be good target for today’s letter.

I don’t have a lot of information about her, the best I can find is published in the back of ASIM.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 43

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 43

It seems she writes with her foot, or possibly her feet…or at least that is how she is described

Having always had one foot in writing…

She grew up in South Africa but has since seen the light and moved to the beauty of New Zealand where she endeavours to write and earn a living.

Anyway, back to the short story. It’s called The Prize and I was quite happy with it. I skimmed it at first just to check it was science fiction but was attracted enough by it to reread it properly. Yes, it is science fiction and quite nicely done. Fully recommend you go to ASIM and buy it, and probably buy more while you’re at it to make the postage worth it, don’t mention I sent you as I don’t get commission from them and I couldn’t possibly have them thinking I’m a fan or something…I have almost all of them but you know…

While you’re on the computer you can follow her on Twitter or GoodReads.

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I want to thank the Koolin people for their thousands of years of guardianship and caretaking of the area where I live.
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