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Haar is what we call the sea fog here in the north east of Scotland. There are other places that have similar banks of dense, white cloud rolling in from the sea, of course; the phenomenon is not limited to this part of the world. I’ve seen something similar in San Francisco.

It plays a big part in She Gave Her Heart, He Took Her Marrow, which will be published in Apex Magazine next month, and is as much a part of the land here as the ever-shifting dunes, the tank traps and pillboxes, and the extinct volcanoes.

It was particularly splendid this week, sitting a mile or so offshore and dull grey in shadow but bright, brilliant white in the sun. I tried to take a picture, but I have yet to manage to capture an image of the haar in its full glory.

Haar

There’s something in the haar and it has a taste for cattle

The thick grey band across the horizon is the haar. It’s remarkably stable, and just sits there until conditions are right for it to come into shore.

Apex has announced a subscription drive, with a target of $5,000. As I write this, the funding rocket is showing less than $1,000.

You can find direct links to the subscription links here. It doesn’t cost much to subscribe. Most of the material is online for free anyway, but by subscribing you help make sure that there will be more great new stories from emerging and established authors. If you can’t subscribe, or can but want to do a bit more, you can always add some funds to the tip jar at the bottom of the subscription drive page.

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The Spotty Raptors – Mad Max causes a difference of opinion

SPOILER WARNING!

Look, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with me if I don't like the same things as you.

“So, um, Mad Max, what did you think?”
“Mumble-mmmf?”
“Mad Max. The new one. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.”
“Mmmm mmmf mmmf mumble mmf.”
“Yeah, I know you went to see it last Thursday. That’s why I was asking.”
“Mmmf gnnnngh mmhgnn mmf.”
“It’s just, you know. I didn’t like it.”
“Mmble?”
“Everyone says it’s fantastic, euphoric, the best thing ever, and Furiosa might as well have been driving around a War Rig loaded with salty man tears, but it was stupid.”
“Mmmf mmmble gnngh mmfngle!”
“Really! They only take the thin, pretty girls, no water or food, only, you know, mother’s milk — and all that milk came from the large ladies they left behind, who were good enough to provide milk, which means good enough to provide babies, but not come with or something — drive hundreds of miles into the desert and then turn round and drive back again. Then Max disappears into the desert. Seeing as how Joe’s army made it through the collapsed arch in about twenty minutes the first time, it’s going to be about a day at most before the War Boys come to retake the Citadel, and they’ve got all the weapons and the fighting experience. All Furiosa has now are the children and the starving rabble. Even the Vuvalini all bought it on the return trip, and they were the ones most likely to put up a reasonable defence. They needed some of Thrush’s lasers or something.”
“Mmmfle mumble bumble mmmf.”
“Why can’t women have decent storylines too? Are we supposed to be happy just because we get to drive a lorry for a change?”
“Mmmble mumf.”
“I knew you were going to say that. I never should have brought it up. It’s pointless trying to have a conversation with you.”

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Bathtime chat

Starlings in the bath

“Do you think Hannibal uses TP or a bidet?”
“Excuse me?”
“He’s a serial killer, I know, ‘Don’t eat the rude’ and all that. But he’s, what, an aesthete, right?”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Hannibal Lecter. I just can’t imagine Hannibal Lecter using toilet paper. I mean, what brand would he buy? I don’t think he’d be won over by puppies. Does Claire Fontaine make toilet paper?”
“Is this—”
“Seriously. What’s the most expensive toilet paper you can buy? Also, do you think eating people makes a difference to the consistency of your poop? I can always tell when I’ve been at the suet. It’s just greasier. Don’t you get that?”
“I don’t think—”
“I bet he can tell. I bet he can smell it. I bet if you went to dinner with him and he fed you one of the rude he’d get a sense of satisfaction from smelling it in your farts.”
“THIS IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION FOR OUR CHILD’S BATHTIME.”

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Autumn’s here

It’s that time of year again. I was moving wood from a delivery into the shed earlier, trug by painful trug (the weekend’s sea kayaking has broken me), and a long V of geese flew in overhead. I sometimes wonder why they talk to each other incessantly as they fly. It looks like so much effort to keep those big bodies up, wings incessantly flapping.

There was a second, smaller V, and a couple of geese broke free from this as I watched, trying to join the larger one. I imagined them worrying about directions — they’re all following Jemima, maybe they know something we don’t; maybe Steve doesn’t have a clue where he’s going and he’s going to turn left over there when he should turn right — as they beat the air furiously with those long wings, slightly akimbo in their sprint across the gap, all against a background chorus of slightly squeaky, syncopated honks I could hear before I spotted the birds and long after they had passed.

I felt the season turn a couple of weeks ago, and while I’m sad to see the back of summer, with its sunny beaches, garden barbecues, fledgling birds, wonderful flowers and hazy warm days of having every window open in this granite fridge we call a house, Autumn has always been my favourite time of year. Here in Scotland we often get the best of the year’s weather in a blissful window on the cusp where summer gives way to autumn; it’s as if the sun realises we are given short change on that front (excuse the pun) and throws an extra week or so of blue skies our way just when we think the cold rains have arrived. It’s warm, but not too warm, with cool, crisp mornings and spectacular sunsets.

It’s fungus season, too. I took this picture in Aviemore at the very end of August:

Fly agaric

Fly Agaric is so beautiful when it breaks through its hood, the red still glossy, the cap unblemished.

This one I took in Keil’s Den, Fife, a couple of weeks later.

Cluster of sulphur

These are Sulphur Tufts, named both for their colour and habit of clumping together. I love taking pictures of fungus. They can be so whimsical.

Speaking of whimsy, yet another story that was supposed to be a flash has grown arms and legs. I’m wrestling my way through thick undergrowth to the end, trusting I can cut it back to something manageable once I’m there. While I thoroughly recommend Rand’s The 10% Solution — especially if you often get comments from crit buddies along the lines of overly wordy, padded prose or over-written — sometimes the machete has to come out before the secateurs.

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International Book Day Shelfie

It was International Book Day yesterday, and I kind of missed it. I wish I had some writerly excuse, such as being too busy working on a story to guddle about on the interwebs, but the fact is I was engaged in rescuing my beloved from a collapsed freewheel, and then we both conked out on the sofa. We had a long day of whitewater survival training on Wednesday, and are both very tired and covered in bruises.

Apparently the thing to do is to post a “shelfie” – rather than a badly focused, awkwardly-angled picture of one’s own mug, one posts a picture of one’s bookshelves. I dislike puns, but never mind.

The following are only the shelves in my office. We have more. We have shelves everywhere there is wall space and I’m not likely to walk into them*.Desk Shelfie

This is the shelf next to my desk. It’s mostly comics, reference books and maps. So. Many. Maps. And yet, not enough maps! One day I will have Landrangers covering the entirety of Scotland at the very least. I may even work my way up to the whole of the UK.

I occasionally think about clearing the very top shelf to make more space for books, but then I’d have to find somewhere else to put Cthulhu, Stanshall the mole, Lara and the Sackperson, my molecule building set, Mindflex and Inflatable Wolverine.

There isn’t anywhere else. We simply need to find a space to put another bookshelf.

We might need a bigger house.

Shelfie 2This is the shelf next to the door. Some fiction, more reference books, the stacks where new acquisitions go before I’ve worked out where to put them (in addition to the pile on the living room table and the other pile in the bedroom).

It’s starting to occur to me I may have a terrible book addiction.

*I walk into things a lot, particularly on the right side, as I have a blind spot the size of Belgium that starts just past my nose, no depth perception and am frequently distracted by the contents of my head. I have enough trouble with door frames without putting additional obstacles in my way.

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Synaesthesia

I have synaesthesia – not one of the easily explainable ones, like numbers have colours, but more of a whole-body topological sort of affair. It’s hard to explain, so I rarely bother trying.

There are experiences, though, that are so overwhelming I occasionally attempt to share them. This evening, coming back from an afternoon out to Haddo House and Formartine’s, I noticed the sky as I parked the car. When I got out, the combination of the air temperature, the smell, the slight breeze and the distant sound of traffic on the A90 combined to give a synaesthetic overlay. Coincidentally, the shapes formed in the sky were of a similar shape and pattern to this cross-wired gestalt.

A little tweaking and it’s close to a pictorial representation of what I felt. Not quite, but close.

Close of Play

Sun settles
Clouds churn
Day dissolves
Nascent night
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