News – Second Life, Writing, and More!

Sorry for vanishing like that! I got sick, and the medicine the doctor put me on made it really hard to focus or do much of anything. But I’m better now!

I have been trying to get some stuff done while I was gone. First off, I got a citronella candle out for Second Life.

Citronella Candle for Second Life
Citronella Candle for Second Life

I’m pretty pleased with it. Like the res of my candles and lamps, it works (either Local Lights or Fulbright.) I don’t really see the point of a light that doesn’t light!

It’s also color changing; there’s a script to change the color of the candle or the bucket, although since it’s copy/mod you can also just change it all manually, if you prefer.

If you would like to know more about it, you can see it in the SL Marketplace.

Café Stool for Second Life
Café Stool for Second Life

I also released a stool to go with the café table and chairs. That was week before last, but I had a story that I blogged that day, so I was going to wait to talk about this, and then I got sick.

It has 12 sit poses, is also copy/mod, and you can find out all about it in The Marketplace as well.

Speaking about SL, there are only two weeks left of The Arcade. As always, when it’s over you’ll be able to keep playing my machine on Livingtree; but you won’t be able to get the special Rewards for playing the machine 50 times ever again. So if you want those, you only have a couple of weeks to get them!

There won’t be a new item out in Second Life this weekend, because the thing I’m working on right now is going to take me longer than that to finish. I think it’ll be worth the wait though.

Test Render - Hammock for SL in Progress
Test Render – Hammock for SL in Progress

It will come in three parts; the hammock itself (I still need to make the pillows but they’re coming,) the stand, and the shade canopy.

That’s so the hammock can swing. Swinging in the hammock is important! It also will mean that if you have trees, you don’t need to use the stand. And if you don’t want the canopy, you can save the LI and not have it.

It will probably wind up tweaked a bit from what you see in the picture, and it needs textures and things, of course. It is, after all, a work in progress. But I thought you might like to see what I’m cooking up.

On the writing front, I’m in the process of editing a book about Wicca that I wrote nearly 10 years ago now, but then Life happened and I forgot to do anything with it. Michael reminded me about it, so now it will see the light of day!

It’s for people who aren’t necessarily interested in joining the religion at all, but who want to know something about it because they have friends, neighbors, or clients that are Wiccan.

With any luck, that will be available in the next month or so.

The next Kip Andrews story will be published here on my blog on Saturday. I hope you like it.

If you liked the last one (Stormy Weather) I’d really appreciate it if you could review it on Amazon. If you want to read it again, you can read it for free if you happen to subscribe to KindleUnlimited. Otherwise, the book is only 99¢.

If you want to read my stories early, you can join my Patreon. I would really appreciate your support.

I’m also starting to work on the redesign of the site, in my copious free time. (Haha.) Since there’s not a whole lot of free time, it might be a while before you can see it, but I’m working on it.

So, that’s what I’m up to at the moment!

Thanks for reading, and if you have a question, comment or suggestion, please let me know.

Expectations

I was working on an embroidery panel for Sami’s wedding dress when I heard the unmistakable sound of a mouse skittering through the wall. My house is warded against natural mice, of course, so I checked the magic signature to see who it was.

Then I heard the scrabbling as he emerged into my pantry! I jabbed the needle into the cloth to hold it, and practically threw the whole piece onto my side table.

“Willoby Jamison Vogelman, don’t you dare touch my food in mouse-form!”

There was a flash of magic, and my great-grandson sauntered out of the pantry, with a brownie in each hand.

“How did you know it was me?” he asked with his mouth full. He was scattering crumbs everywhere. I have no idea why ten year old boys disdain little niceties like plates and forks, but in my experience they all do.

“I have ways.” One thing I’ve learned, with 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren is never to tell them how you know things about them. Not until they are old enough to need the tricks for their own youngsters. Thinking that adults simply know everything is a powerful deterrent, and with a brood like mine, I need all the deterrents I can get!

He settled on the stool in front of me, chewing serenely.

“You’re making crumbs in my sitting room.”

In reply, he shoved both brownies into his mouth at once. They didn’t fit, of course. The child has a wide mouth, but I am generous when I cut my brownies. He made a valiant effort, but crumbs leaked everywhere. I thought about requiring him to return to mouse form and eat them off the floor, but he would probably enjoy that. So I just glared at him instead.

For some reason, that made him grin, which made the crumb problem worse. I decided to ignore him, and picked up the embroidery, making sure the charm that kept the white from getting smudged with anything, including chocolate, was intact.

Will chewed energetically and watched me work until the double brownies were gone.

“Why didn’t you want me to eat in mouse-form? I would have gotten full more quickly.”

“You know that only lasts while you are a mouse. As soon as you became a boy, you’d have been as ravenous as ever. And I’d have been left with half-nibbled brownies, and tiny chocolate footprints all over the pantry.”

“What would you have done if I’d stayed a mouse?”

Will is one of the ones who always wants to know the outcomes of every possible choice. Not a bad trait; it will make him a careful, thoughtful adult. But at the moment, he’s still a child, and sometimes prone to repeating behavior, good or bad, to test the variables.

“I’d have dragged you out of the pantry by your tail, and warded it against you for a week.”

He looked at me, his hazel eyes full of mischief and speculation. “But would you have been able to catch me?”

I almost laughed. “We can try the experiment any time you like.”

He smiled and sat back. He has learned that when I’m that sure, it’s not wise to test me. Besides, I never, ever, lie to any of them, and they know that.

I finished the leaf I was stitching, and cut the thread.

“So, to what do I owe the pleasure?” I asked. There are times my family drops in just to visit, but I was pretty sure this wasn’t one of them.

“Mom sent me,” he answered. “She said to give you this.” He fished in his pocket, and pulled out a note. It wasn’t in bad shape, considering everything I was sure had happened to it since his mother handed it to him.

I set aside the embroidery, broke the seal on the note, and spread it on my lap, smoothing the wrinkles enough to read it. I was being invited to dinner on Friday.

That was odd. Not the invitation; I was frequently asked to join my various family groups to share meals, celebrations, and so on. But generally not in writing.

Will craned his neck, trying to see, and I realized that for some reason, Peg hadn’t wanted him to know I was coming. I folded the note in half, thwarting his efforts, and tucked it in my work basket. Peg hadn’t given me any details, so she was either assuming I could handle whatever it was on the fly, or that I already knew what was going on.

Sometimes giving grandchildren the illusion that you know everything can come back and bite you!


On Friday, I showed up at Peg’s house punctually at 4:00, as requested. I find punctuality important. It allows people to plan.

“Nana!” Peg greeted me warmly. “Thank you so much for coming!”

I laughed and hugged her as tightly as I could with one arm occupied. “Of course! Now, care to tell me what this is about?”

“It’s Steph. She’s very troubled, but she won’t tell either Greg or me what is wrong. We tried to send her to you, but she won’t go. So I decided to bring you to her.”

“Ah. Why the note and the mystery?”

She shook her head and smiled, “You know Will; he’s such a tease. If he knew, he’d be likely to taunt Steph with it, and close her up tighter than ever.”

Steph is one of my younger great grands. She’s only seven, and very quiet and reserved. Unlike the rest, she never changes into something unexpected and just pops over and lets herself into my house. When she does come to visit, she always knocks on the door, and always in human form.

I put the cake I’d brought on the kitchen table.

“Where is she now?”

“On the swings. She’s been spending most of her time there. What a lovely cake! You didn’t have to!”

I just smiled. If I ever showed up without something good to eat, I’m fairly sure they’d all wonder if it was really me.

I let myself out the back, and walked to the little copse where the swings are. I could see Steph, her back to the house, listlessly kicking the ground in a half-hearted attempt to swing. Something wrong, indeed.

She looked up as I took the swing next to her. “Grandnana. I knew they’d make you come.”

Might as well get right to the point. “They are worried, because they love you.”

She turned her head away, but not before I saw her eyes fill with tears.

“They won’t, when they know.”

Oh dear. This was worse than I thought. I stood up, gathered her out of her swing, and carried her over to the double glider. I’m so glad young children are small enough to pick up easily!

For a while, I just held her and swung gently, while she cried. “That’s right.” I murmured, “Let the tears wash the pain away. And know that I will always love you, no matter what.”

She wrapped her arms around me, and wept for a while.

“Now,” I said, “who did you murder?” She was startled enough to laugh, and doing that while crying caused her to hiccup. Loudly. Which made her gulp and half laugh again.

She sat up, and I handed her a handkerchief to dry her tears. She took it, took care of herself, and shook her head.

“It’s not that! You know I’d never do that, right?”

“I didn’t think so.” I gave her a squeeze. “So, we’ve established it’s not as horrible as murder. What is it?”

She sighed, and relaxed against me. “You know they teach shape-shifting in second grade, right?”

I did, indeed. Although my descendants  generally figure it out well before that. I’d never seen Steph – oh no. I knew where this was going.

Sure enough, she started to sob again. “I tried, Grandnana. I tried really hard. They’re going to kick me out of the family, aren’t they? Please don’t hate me, Grandnana! Please!”

I held her as tightly as I could, and covered the top of her head with kisses.

“Oh, my poor little Stephie! My very own, dear little Stephie! Of course not! I’m so sorry you thought that for a minute! You’re our own darling Steph, and we don’t care a bit if you can’t Shift! Not everyone can, you know!”

“Everyone in this family can! Everyone but me. I’m a failure.”

She was holding me so tightly that it hurt. She had accidentally grabbed a pinch of my skin, under my shirt. I’d have a bruise there tomorrow, but that was insignificant next to this.

“No, honey bunch, you are not a failure. Don’t say that about my great-granddaughter. Lack of one talent does not a failure make.

Besides, haven’t I taught you that people may fail at many things, but people, themselves, are never failures?”

She nodded, and sat up slightly, releasing her hold. Oh thank goodness!

“But you are so famous for shifting, and I can’t do it at all! People will make fun of me.”

I held her close, taking her hand in mine. She could hold my hand as tightly as she liked. “What will they say?” I asked.

“They’ll say I can’t Shift!”

“Is that true, as far as we know right now?”

She sniffed, and nodded miserably.

“Then say, ‘Yes. And?'”

“What?”

I sighed. “People who tease are trying to get a reaction from you. Lots of times, they don’t care what reaction, as long as they get one. Any reaction at all makes them feel, just for a minute, like they mattered to you. Just for a minute, you saw them, and interacted with them.

“People need interaction with other people as badly as they need air and light. They’ll do anything to get it, even when they have no idea that’s what they are doing.”

“So, if I just say yeah, as if it’s no big deal, they’ll leave me alone?”

“Perhaps. They might also be reaffirming their group identity, showing their friends that all of them like the same thing, so they are part of the same group.

“The trick is a two prong approach. Let them know that not shifting is something neutral for you, like having dark brown hair or green eyes. But also interact with them doing things that make you all feel good, because it’s the interaction they crave.”

“But it’s not neutral! It’s one of the most important things there is! Ever since I was tiny, I’ve been waiting until I could turn into a bird and fly through the sky, or turn into a horse and run like the wind, or be a fish in the brook! And now I never will!”

I held her close, and felt the pain I would feel if I had to give up all those things. “You’re right. It’s hard to give up dreams and expectations. It hurts a lot. I know.”

“How? Did you ever have to give up anything?”

“Oh my darling, yes. Think how old I am. I’ve had to give up so much! So many dreams, plans, hopes that never happened.”

“Can you tell me one?”

Well, it was only fair. She’d shown me her pain. “The worst was when I realized I’d have to live without your GrandGrampa. I didn’t think I could. I’d always imagined us going on forever together. But life doesn’t go on forever, and his ended before mine.”

“How did you manage?” she whispered.

“By concentrating on the things I still had. Your grandpa, and your great-aunts, and all your aunts and uncles and various cousins.”

“And me?”

I squeezed her. “You weren’t born yet. But now that you are, yes, you.”

She was thoughtful as we swung for a while, and I left her space to think. I had memories of my own to think through.

Finally she said, “I can still throw a charm faster than Will or anyone, even if I can’t shift. If he wants an interaction, I can make his pants fall off!”

I had to laugh. “Well, yes. But that’s not quite the kind of interaction I was thinking of. That would probably not make him feel good.”

She laughed too. I was so happy to hear it. “Probably not! What is the most important thing, Grandnana?”

I could answer that one without thinking. “Being kind. And that’s not dependent on any talent or ability or skill in the world. Everyone can do that, no matter what.”

She nodded, thoughtfully. “I better go tell mom what’s been bugging me, huh?”

“Yes. Want me to come with?”

She turned, gave me a kiss, and slid off my lap. “No. I can do this. You’re sure she’ll still love me?”

“I’m sure. She might want to have you tested, or tutored, but that’s because she doesn’t want to give up her hopes and expectations for you, not because she doesn’t love you, even if you never shift at all.”

She nodded. “That makes sense. Okay. Love you, Grandnana!”

“Love you, Steph.”

She straightened her little shoulders, and marched off to the house.

I watched her go, her back straight and head up, and thought about my husband. I still missed him dreadfully, at times. But I know he’d be so very proud of our brood!

June Arcade!

The June 2016 round of The Arcade in Second Life is open!

This round, I have a pressed wood dollhouse, complete with all the furnishings!

All the prizes!
All the prizes!

The furniture all comes in at under 1LI per piece. The dollhouse itself is 2 LI (because it has a working door, and all those windows have real glass – or perhaps it’s plastic – in them.)

All the furniture is very detailed, and some of it, like the kitchen table and chairs, is designed to be easy to tint whatever color you like! There’s even a dollhouse to go inside the dollhouse.

The dollhouse itself is carefully textured to show all the parts of the rooms that aren’t removable furniture; things like posters on the walls, a kitty clock in the kitchen, fireplaces, and kitchen cabinets. The outside has a richly landscaped texture, like a real pressed wood or metal dollhouse.

The Arcade has a new “thing” this round; if you play the machine more than 50 times, you’ll get a special Reward. It’s only available for this one month. It’s no-transfer, so you won’t be able to buy them anywhere, and we have all agreed not ever to sell them anywhere else.

My Reward is a mailbox and lamppost for the dollhouse.

Working Rewards
Working Rewards

The lamppost lights up, of course, and you can also change the color of the light, make it auto (on at dusk, off at dawn) and all the other things you can do with my lights.

The mailbox has a toggle. The first time you touch it, the flag goes up. The next time, the flag goes down, and the door opens so you can see the tiny little pieces of mail. The third time, the door closes, and it’s back where you started.

As always, I’m pretty excited about The Arcade. There’s a lot of really good stuff in it! You can see all of it (not just mine) at The Arcade June 2016 Shopping Guide.

If you’re an SL Resident, it’s a lot of fun, and a great way to get amazing stuff for very few Lindens!

See you there!

Stormy Weather on Amazon

I got Stormy Weather made into a Kindle book yesterday, and today it’s up for sale on Amazon!

I really should have researched the title before I used it. I had no idea how many other books were also called “Stormy Weather” although I certainly should have. It’s not like it would have been hard to do. Oh well, too late now! It’ll be easier when it’s just the name of the first story in the collected Kip Andrews book. (It’s a very short read – only 13 print pages, so it’s perfect for reading during break.)

If you’re a member of KindleUnlimited you can read it for free. If not, I’m afraid it’ll cost 99¢. Amazon won’t accept a lower price.

I’d like to thank everyone who read it here, and encouraged me. If you liked it, and you can leave a review, that would be great! Good reviews really help.


If you’d like to read any of the 3 stories that are still here, while they’re still free, you can find links to them below.

Beauty and the Beast Retold

A Little Bird Told Me – A Grandnana Story

May Eve

I have a Patreon Page

As planned, I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet, and posted a page on Patreon.

If you’re enjoying my stories, it would be great if you could help support me by becoming one of my Patrons.

In case you’re not familiar with Patreon, it allows people who enjoy the work of various artists to give them donations in support of that work. It’s one of the reasons why many creative people no longer have to have a “day job” and can, instead, use their time to make the wonderful things that people enjoy.

In my case, if you choose to support me, Patreon will bill you once a month, for whatever amount you have pledged.

You can pledge as little as a dollar, because every bit helps. If you do, you’ll be able to interact with me on the special Patreon member page, and you’ll also be able to read the stories the day before I post them here.

If you can pledge $3 or more, you’ll be able to read the story that will be posted on June 4 right now! (It’s another Grandnana one.) You’ll always get the stories 2 weeks early, as my thanks.

For $5 a month or more, you’ll get the Kip Andrews story scheduled for June 18 right away. You’ll always be able to read all the stories a month early.

If you can pledge $15 or more, I’ll be posting some of the backstory for longer stories that won’t ever be posted here. Things like the world building for Kip’s home, which is also the setting for the novel I’m working on. (world building, the way I do it is geography, currency, form or government, technology, fashion, and a whole lot more. The background that the stories are woven from.)

For $25 a month or more, you’ll also get to see what I’ve written each day. I’ll post it, as raw and terrible as it comes out, at the end of the day. (Most days. Some days I don’t write anything, because of Reasons.) Whatever it is will probably change some before it’s printed. It might change beyond recognition, and I might just dump the entire project. It’s also going to be short stories some days, and a couple thousand words from a novel other days. It’ll vary, and it’ll be raw, but that’s the fun of it! I usually don’t show that to anyone but my husband, but if you’re willing to support me at this level, I’m willing to let you look. (You don’t have to read it, if you’d rather not.) You’ll even be able to leave me comments on it!

For $50 a month or more, I’ll put your name in a special Acknowledgements section, on any finished novels or collections of short stories. You’ll also get all the things above, or course.

For $100 a month or more, first, are you sure? That’s a lot of money. I deeply appreciate it, though. So very much that I’ll use your name in one of the stories. If you’d rather not have your name in a book, I’ll use whatever name you like, as long as I like it too. (Sorry, you can’t name a character Evil McEvilface and have me use it. Unless I decide to write a piece of farce, and you never know!)

So that’s that. The stories are up, and ready to be read this minute. There’s not a video intro (yet) but all my prospective Patrons are readers, so you’re not afraid to read, right?

The rewards and goals are on the right side, when you go to the page. I really hope that you decide to become one of my Patrons; but if you don’t, I fully understand. The short stories will continue to be posted here, every other Saturday, as usual.

Thanks!

May Eve Story

It’s Saturday, and time for another short short. This one is just shy of 1000 words. I wrote it on May Eve, and thought I should post it before the month is over.

Hope you like it!


May Eve

It was raining that day. If it hadn’t been for the rain, none of the rest of it would have happened.

Without the rain, I’d have been out on the Lake, sailing to the Island where the woods were carpeted with spring beauty and glory-of-the-snow. I’d have been picnicking under the tender new maple leaves.

That was my plan for the day.

If it hadn’t rained, I wouldn’t have been stuck indoors. I wouldn’t have gotten bored, and decided to put together a wreath out of dried flowers and bird feathers and bits of this and that, all hot glued to an old form I’d been given for a long-ago housewarming. Without the rain, I’d have been far away from the house, and I’d never have heard the doorbell, even if it rang.

But I did make the wreath, and hung it proudly on the front door, where the porch sheltered it. And I was home, so when the bell rang I answered it.

At first glance, I thought it was a child, standing there as gray as the rain, dripping on the mat. I wondered who was letting their little girl wander around in the rain, without so much as a hat. But then she lifted her eyes, and I realized it wasn’t a child at all.

I can see you expecting me to say it was a Little Person. But it wasn’t.

She wasn’t human. No human has ever been born with eyes like that. Solid green, those eyes, with flecks of gold floating in them. No whites, no dark pupils, just shades of green, dancing like leaves in a forest breeze, burning as if lit from behind.

Those eyes captured me, and I stood there stunned, unable to move.

“Can I come in? It’s very wet out.”

I stepped aside, and motioned her past me. That was probably a mistake, in retrospect, but I wasn’t thinking really clearly at that moment.

“Ah much better!” she chirped. She scooted by, and straight to the fireplace. There wasn’t a fire, of course. I seldom turn on the gas, except for holidays and other special occasions.

“Your hearth is cold!” She gave me such a look! Accusation, disappointment, condescension, disdain, annoyance. In my own home!

Wordlessly, I walked over and flipped the switch. With a whoosh the gas caught, and blue flames licked the artificial logs.

She started, and then peered at the fire. “What is this? You’re no sorcerer!”

I shook my head. My voice was still not working.

“Speak!”

She pointed a surprisingly long finger at me, and I found myself saying, “It’s a gas fire. Natural gas is piped into the house, and a spark from the electronic ignition unit causes it to burn, but very cleanly. There’s no ash, and no smoke.”

“Huh.” She turned back to the blaze. “Well, it’s truly fire, so I suppose that’s legal, even if it doesn’t smell right at all.”

She turned her diminutive back to the warmth, and shook her hair out with both hands. In no time at all, it dried to white frizz like a dandelion clock, all over her head.

“So, I suppose we should come right to the point,” she said.

“The point?”

“Why I’m here. Are you daft?”

“I’m not sure.” Ten minutes earlier I’d have said not a chance, but I was standing there talking to someone who wasn’t human, and I had no idea if anyone else would even find her visible. So yeah, of course I was questioning my sanity. Wouldn’t you?

She peered up at me, and then around the house, or as much as you can see from the living room. “Not bad, although it’s been far too long since you washed your curtains. Still, I’ve seen worse.

“Okay, I’ll take the job. Payment will be a full saucer of cream, delivered nightly, and mind it’s fresh! I’ll have none of the waste that you’re thinking of giving to the pigs.”

“Wait.. what? What job?”

She looked at me, my own puzzlement reflected on her tiny face, and then scampered to the door, and threw it open. “There’s the sign, right enough, hung smack dab on the middle of the door, on May-Eve.” She pointed to my new door wreath. “Did you think no one would answer?”

“I … Did I… Sign for what?”

She stared at me for a moment, and then started to laugh. I’d never heard such a sound, like a brook chuckling, and butterflies dancing, and bright ribbons waving in the breeze. It was pure merriment. I had to laugh too. I couldn’t help it.

“Oh me, oh my!” she gasped for air, and then sat right down on the floor, pointing weakly at the wreath.

“You’ve no idea, do you? Well, that’s just too bad. I was looking for a new situation, and I’ve found one! You’ve hung the sign, and invited me in. You kindled your fire anew for me. It’s all signed and sealed, according to the old laws. The contract is made, and now you’re stuck with it!”

“Stuck? What?”

She hopped up and skipped over to me, where I’d collapsed on the couch. As quick and soft as a kitten, she patted me several times on the knee, and said, “It’s okay. You’ll get used to it. But don’t forget the cream, or you’ll wish you’d never been born!”

Then she twirled around once, and vanished.

But she didn’t leave. Oh no. She never left.

I’m not saying that I’m not grateful for her help at times, although I’ve learned not to say “thank you.” Not ever.

But you see, that’s why I need cream. The freshest you have, please.


If you enjoyed this story, please consider joining my Patreon. You’ll be able to read the stories early, and I’ll be able to write more of them!

Transgender Bathroom Panic

Unless you’ve been hiding under your bed clothes for the last couple of months – and I don’t blame you a bit if you have, we’re a fair way beyond “crazy” at this point – you know that we’re in the middle of a Bathroom War in the US just now.

It’s been framed as a conflict between the “common sense” rule of keeping men out of women’s private spaces, and the “dangerous” practice of allowing them free access.

I have a few things to say about that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’m cis-gendered, which means the doctor happened to be right when he assigned the gender on my birth certificate. I also have a lot of trans friends. And no, I’m not going to tell you who, because all but one are deeply closeted. That one is Gwendolyn Ann Smith. I will tell you that I count 3 trans women, including Gwen, among my closest friends and I know dozens of others.

So.

This whole thing, from where I stand, is actually about two separate issues.

One is safety in public restrooms. Let’s get that out of the way.

It’s a real problem, and it should have been addressed years and years ago. Women, girls, and little boys are at risk of assault when they use public facilities. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen, and it happens because bathrooms are tucked away for privacy. There’s little chance an attacker will be caught. That’s the real reason that women go to the restroom in clumps; there is safety in numbers. The only thing this has to do with trans people is that they are at far higher risk than non-trans people. There are zero cases of trans people being the aggressor.

You want some links? Have 3, chosen totally at random. A 16 year old girl died in Delaware after being beaten in a bathroom. A 15 year old girl was raped in a bathroom. A 23 year old woman was raped in a Manhattan bar.

  • Note that none of these cases involved anyone who was trans.
  • Note that in none of the cases did the man don a wig and dress to commit his crime.
  • Note that laws that do, or do not, allow trans people to use a bathroom where they are comfortable – or at least, less uncomfortable – have no bearing at all here.

It’s not about trans people.

It’s easy to fix.

We need to put public bathrooms in high traffic areas. The toilets need to be in actual little rooms with lockable doors (not stalls that people can peep over, crawl under, or peer through the cracks of.) There should be a “panic button” on the wall for people who need help, because that happens; especially with senior citizens or people with disabilities. The sinks should be out in the open, where they can be seen by everyone.

If we did that, then it would be safe for everyone to take care of bodily functions.

Since the toilets would be completely private, there wouldn’t be any need to have any kind of gender anything. No one would be able to loiter unseen, because they would be clearly visible to everyone.

But all of this isn’t about any of that, is it? If it was, there wouldn’t be so many untested rape kits in North Carolina.

This is about the right of transgender and gender-non conforming people to exist at all.

The people screaming about the sanctity of their bathrooms are really fighting for a binary world. For a world in which things are black and white, male or female, yes or no. They are fighting for absolutes.

People like binaries. It makes choices clear and easy. It’s the lazy way to deal with differences. You are either one or the other. Us or them. Liberal or Conservative. Girl or Boy.

The problem is that nature doesn’t do binary at all. Not in anything. Between day and night, there’s always twilight. We only know when Winter becomes Spring because of the artificial conceit of a calendar; there’s no clear demarcation in the weather. Heck, we can’t even really draw a line between animal and vegetable!

In real life, all the lines blur. There are always liminal spaces that aren’t exactly one or the other, but have some characteristics of both.

This is true of everything, including human biological sex.

Trans people, far from being “unnatural” are proof positive that humans are part of the natural world.

I’m not going to go into all the stuff that happens, between chromosomes, hormones in utero, and embryonic development that causes a baby to be born with enough differentiation for the attending doctor to assign a gender. Suffice it to say it’s not nearly as clear cut as you learned in biology class. Sex chromosomes don’t always come in pairs. Things like Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome cause people who are genetically male (46XY) to have female sexual characteristics at birth. Women with XY genes have even give birth.

So it’s not surprising that people can have outward sexual characteristics from one gender, while knowing that they really belong to the opposite one. Or people who are uncomfortable being assigned to either box.

We don’t really know what causes internal gender identity, although we might be learning.

We do know, however, that Gender Dysphoria is a real thing. It doesn’t go away. It feels horrible. It can kill, if it’s not treated.

So what it comes down to is this; do we accept people’s own reports of their lived experiences, or not?

If we do, then we have to agree that someone who knows to the bottom of her soul that she’s female is female, whether or not she has a penis. Someone who identifies as male, is male, even if he happens to have a vagina.

If not, of course, then you insist that you are omnipotent; you know what other people are feeling and thinking better than they do themselves. How that assumption of god-like powers can not be considered blasphemy is beyond me, but I digress.

Because here’s the thing.

Trans people are people.

Like everyone else, they should be treated with respect, kindness, and honor. Everyone should be, no matter what.

At the beginning of this post, I said I know a bunch of trans people. The most important thing about them?

Being trans isn’t the most important thing about them.

They are artists, writers, computer programmers, health workers, teachers. They have rich or complex relationships with their parents, siblings, children, and friends. They have different things they like or dislike. They are all avid science fiction readers, like nearly everyone else I know. They are all the things that everyone else is, and it’s those things that make us friends.

The only reason to care about someone’s gender is so you know how to treat them.

If you are treating people differently based on their gender, that’s a problem I think you should address.

In other words, let’s go for true gender equality, and stop worrying about the gender of other people.


Picture Attribution; the transgender flag: harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) by torbakhopper Used under a Creative Commons 2Generic License. Slightly cropped and resized.

Arcade Ready!

The stuff that I’ve been doing for the June round of the Arcade in Second Life is all modeled, textured, and scripted (in some cases,) the instructions have been written, the Permissions have been checked, and all the Keys and sneak peeks are ready to go. In other words, it’s all done!

The only thing remaining is to put it out at the Venue, and I’m ready to do that as soon as it opens. Well, the next morning, anyway. I’m not staying up until 3:00 am my time to put things in the machine.

Which means that my time is my own again. Which, of course, means that I’ll be able to blog once more. Of course, you probably figured that out already, because you’re reading this!

I’m planning a fairly serious blog post tomorrow, about Transgender issues. It might take me longer to get it all written, but I’m hoping not.

On Saturday, of course, there’ll be a new story! Yay!

I’m not planning to post much more about the Arcade here, but I’ll have new sneak peeks up every day on my Flickr stream, if you’d like to see more.

On other fronts, I’m mostly doing a lot of clean-up and maintenance work. (Did you know that it is possible to fill a 3 TB hard drive?) I’m also trying to pull all the things together to start my Patreon page.

So that’s what I’m up to! How about you?


Picture Attribution; Sneak Peek from the Arcade June 2016 in Second Life. Marianne McCann plays with Robin Sojourner’s Arcade set.

Getting Ready for Arcade in SL

I’m spending most of my time getting ready for The Arcade in Second Life at the moment, so I don’t have the time I’d like to work on other things. (I’ll have Sneak Peeks of the things I’m making soon!)

That’s why I haven’t posted in a few days, and probably won’t post again for a few more. In a way, it’s frustrating, because there’s a lot of other stuff I’d like to do, too. But for now, the Arcade has to be my main focus.

Once that’s out of the way, the first thing on the docket is to get Stormy Weather up on Kindle. That’s the short story that I posted on April 9, with the notice that it would only be there for a month. Since it’s been a month, it’s gone now. I had planned to have it up on Kindle before I took it down, but it didn’t quite work out that way. With any luck, it’ll be there in a couple of weeks.

After that, I’m planning to get my Patreon page off the ground. It’s really just waiting for the videos that are required. The script for them is written, but the recording hasn’t been done, mostly because I was sick for a few weeks there and my voice wasn’t… umm… shall we say “recording quality.” It’s fine now, but Arcade.

I also need to learn a bit more about some animation apps before I can have the film I want, so that might hold it up a little, but shouldn’t be too long.

The story that will be posted in two weeks is written, and so are the first few stories that I’m going to have as part of my Patreon Rewards, so at least that’s not going to have to wait. There will be a new story on May 21 for sure!

So that’s where I am right now! I thought I’d let you guys know, so you’re not wondering if I’ve given up on keeping a blog, or doing the other things.

Thanks again for your patience, and for reading!

Hugs all around!


Image made using Canva and Photoshop.

A Little Bird Told Me

A new short story; it’ll only be up for four weeks, so if you want to read it for free, now’s your chance!


A Little Bird Told Me

by Robin Wood

I was just starting to knit the lace trim on a cap for the newest baby, when a little blue bird with a yellow head and white bib flew through my open window.  It settled on the footstool next to me, hopped up down a couple of times, and then plunked right down on its tail feathers, sticking its little twig legs straight out in front of it.

As soon as it did, it’s legs grew longer and thicker, while its body stretched up, the feathers sank into her arms, and her face changed from a bird to a girl. In a moment, my fourteen year old great-granddaughter, Sophie, was sitting there, with her blond curls, a blue dress with a white collar, and a scab on one brown knee. Her eyes were still bright black, and still laughed at me.

I have no idea why she sits down like that to change. I find it much more comfortable, not to mention graceful, to change while standing. But grace wasn’t high on Sophie’s priority list.

“Hi Grandnana!” she said. “Do you have any cookies?” And she hopped off the stool and went into the pantry to investigate.

I only had three children, but between them, they presented me with 9 grandchildren, and so far I have 21 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren with no end in sight. All of these people feel free to drop in unannounced at any hour of the day or night. I do love them, but I tell you true, some days I think about going to live at the bottom of the sea just to get a little peace! Except I’m sure they would find me before I had a chance to unpack.

When I was young, and just had the three, I worked very hard to make sure everything was always even. If I made Gertie a new dress, I made one for Caroline, too, and a shirt and tie for Albert.

I tried to keep that up with the grandchildren, at first. But the day baby Ellie came crying because her little hands were cold, and I realized if I stuck to “everyone equally” I’d have to knit 9 pairs of mittens to give one toddler warm fingers, I gave it up. I made one tiny pair, and stopped worrying about the others.

Now I give to each what each one needs. If one needs more than the others, that’s for the gods to sort out. None are left wanting, and none have piles of things they will never use.

They help themselves to whatever food I have whenever they come over, though. All of them. I try to keep lots on hand. Anything I especially want to eat, I disguise. They think I have a fondness for particularly stinky cheese, and I’m not about to disabuse them of that notion.

On this occasion, Sophie’s voice rang out, “Chicken pie! That’s even better than cookies. I’m starving.” She wandered back out, with a generous slice on one of my good dishes, her mouth already full.

“Not that I’m not glad to see you,” I said, “but to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” I didn’t bother to mention she wasn’t using an everyday dish. I gave up that battle long ago.

She swallowed, and waved her fork airily, scattering pastry crumbs. “Oh, Mom’s started spring cleaning, so I thought I’d get out of there.”

“Didn’t it occur to you that your mom might want your help with the cleaning?” I asked.

“Sure! That’s why I left,” she chomped down on another forkful of pie. “I’ve cleaned enough for one day, and she’s nuts on the topic. No one will ever see the top of the cupboards.”

I let that pass, too, along with speaking with her mouth full. Her mother could teach her all of that. I was tired.

I was also not going to get any more knitting done. It was a new pattern that I hadn’t memorized yet, and counting stitches to follow written instructions was not going to be possible. I made a note of which row and stitch I was on, and folded the knitting neatly into the pattern, setting it aside for later, while Sophie polished off the pie.

When she was done, she licked the plate. Disgusting, but flattering in its way.

I got out some piecework to sew, while she mounted another raid on my pantry. She came back with a slice of cake, on the same plate. I suppose she thought it was “clean enough.”

She ate that without a word, while I sewed squares of bright cotton together with a quarter inch seam. Something was bothering her. If I didn’t push, she’d tell me what it was. I suspected that was the main reason for her visit, although avoiding housework had certainly played a part.

When the cake was gone, she got up without a word, went into the kitchen, washed the dish and fork, and put them in the rack to dry. Without being asked. Whatever was bugging her, it was bad.

Then she came back, reached into the work basket, and took out a block to sew. I keep them there, pinned together in order, for just such an occurrence. And my own convenience too, of course. She threaded a needle, and got to work.

Outside, the bees hummed around the window box, birds sang, and the creek chuckled to itself as it hurried to its eventual appointment with the sea. The only sound inside was the clock ticking.

I finished my nine-patch block, and started another. Sophie got the first three patches of hers sewn, and reached for the clapper board to set the seam.

“Grandnana, have you ever made a bad promise?”

“A bad promise?”

She sighed deeply. “Yeah. There’s this girl in my class at school. I don’t know her all that well. She doesn’t really have any friends, and I guess I felt sorry for more than anything else.”

She set the seams, and put the row aside, picking up the next two squares to sew. Not the way I’d do it. I sew all three rows before setting the seams. But her way would finish the block, and was only a little more work.

“Anyway, she asked if I’d help with a spell, and I said yes without asking what kind of spell it is.” She shook her curls away from her face, and looked up at me. “I know that was dumb, but I never thought it was going to be anything but a common, simple spell!”

“I take it that’s not what she wanted.”

Her mouth twisted, she looked back down, and jabbed the needle viciously into the cloth. “Not hardly. There is this new boy, called Mitt, who is really handsome. I mean, if you picture masculine handsomnimity, he’d be what you imagined. He’s rich, too. His Dad owns this big business or something. Anyway, they moved into that huge house on Chestnut, and he gets a ride to school in a limo with a chauffeur and everything.

“No one knows what he’s doing at our school. You’d expect him to be at a ritzy boarding school or something. Apparently he was, but his family missed him too much. Or maybe he wasn’t fully appreciated there. Or something. No one knows the real story.”

I could see where this was headed, but I waited for her to tell me.

“Anyway,” she dropped the sewing into her lap, heedless of the needle, and scrubbed her face with both hands. “This girl, Chrissy, decided she is in love with him. She wants help with a love spell. I tried to tell her she doesn’t know him. I tried to tell her how spells like that bind people, and it’s coercion and wrong, and how when the victim finds out, and he will, he will hate and resent you forever. I tried to explain how horrible it is to be bound to someone who hates and resents you.”

She dropped her hands, and grabbed her skirt, twisting it while staring at me with anguished eyes. “I tried every way I know, Grandnana, and she *still* insists she wants to do the spell!”

I reached over, and picked up the needle from her lap. She had missed running it into her hand by about half an inch. She glanced down as I did, saw how narrow her escape had been, and made a face.

“I don’t know what to do! I can’t let her do the spell, and she says she can’t anyway without my help. Her spells all fizzle, except the really simple ones.”

I used the needle to catch the patches she was sewing, and lifted them out of the way before she tangled the thread or did herself an injury. I put it back with the rest of that patch, and laid my own aside too. She just waited, looking at me with a tortured expression. Finally I said, “Then don’t help her.”

“But I gave my word!”

“You did. But you didn’t know what you were promising. Would you have promised if you had known?”

She shook her head violently, curls whipping everywhere. “No, never!”

“So promising was a mistake?”

“In the worst way! I wish like everything I’d asked her what spell, first!”

I nodded. “I’m sure you do. Would keeping that promise make the original mistake better, or worse?”

“Only about a quadrillion times worse!”

“Then break the promise.”

“But…. I thought breaking a promise is a horrible thing! You have to keep your word. It’s your honor and your bond!”

I reached out my arms, and she came and sat in my lap, great gangly girl that she is. I wrapped my arms around her, and held her close. “It is, honey bunch, and you must never break it simply because keeping it is inconvenient, or because you have found a different thing you would rather do, or because you are angry at the person you gave your word to, or afraid keeping it will be hard.

“But sometimes you find that it was a mistake to give your word in the first place. Sometimes, you’ll be coerced. Sometimes someone will lie about the circumstances, or about what they are asking for. Sometimes you simply won’t have all the information, like this time.

“In all those cases, and probably more, keeping your word will make a bad situation worse. When there is no good choice, always choose the path that will cause the least harm.”

She rested her head on my shoulder. “I’m going to go back and tell her I won’t help. She’ll tell everyone I broke my word, and people might hate me. But that’s better than helping to ruin two whole lives.”

I rocked her gently. “She might not tell anyone. Telling them will reveal the kind of spell she had planned. But if she does, even if you choose not to explain why, and you could certainly do that, people will get over it. They always do, eventually.”

She nodded, reached up, and kissed my cheek. “Thanks, Grandnana. I knew you would be able to help me.” As annoying as my family can be, they all know exactly how to  melt my heart.

I had just finished threading the ribbon through the cap for the newest baby when a little bird flew through my window.

It was Sophie again.

“Hi Grandnana!” She headed into the pantry. “Guess what! Oh! Donuts! Yumm!”

She came out, with a donut in each hand, spewing powdered sugar with every word. “You know that new boy I told you about? Mitt? Well…” She settled on the footstool, and looked up at me, eyes glowing, “It turns out he was expelled from that fancy school for ‘excessive cruelty’.” She put half a donut in her mouth, and chewed with great satisfaction. “He was caught torturing a puppy,” she scowled fiercely, “can you imagine? They took it away, and it’s going to be okay, and it has new owners now.” Her face cleared, and she popped the other half of the donut into her mouth. “But it turns out he’s just as mean and nasty as he can be, and he’s been expelled from our school, too.” She finished the other donut in three bites, and licked her fingers.

“Chrissy told me she is *so* glad that I didn’t help her with that love spell. Can you imagine being bound to someone like that? And she says she’s swearing off compulsion spells for life.”

She wiped her hands on her skirt, and gave me a very satisfied look. “So that turned out better than I expected! I’m so happy I came to you!” She hopped up, and went back into the pantry. “Ewww. There’s that horrible cheese again. Got any roast beef?”

I’m glad she came over too. And I’m glad she doesn’t like stinky cheese. I’m planning to have that leftover beef for my supper.


Picture Attribution; IMG_1878-333 by Nigel Used under a Creative Commons 2Generic License. Resized, but no other changes made.

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