Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trick-or-Treating at The Genesee Country Village & Musem

Today we went to the Trick-Or-Treat event at The Genesee Country Village & Museum with our friends Deanna & Drew and Kristin & Michael & all of our girls! We had a blast. It was $5 a child (adults were free!) and included games, candy, the beautiful village some crafts, and even a haybale maze and bounce house!

We listened to a scary story at the Pioneer Farmstead (yes, I've slept on that bed!)

Could you want for a better backdrop for this activity... I don't think so!

Just like their Mommas....

Mother and Daughter Witches. We decicded we were bad witches... Actually my girl decided that. Since I work there, everyone probably thought the hat was appropriate...

Trick or Treating wth the Oxen. This is Tom (or Mike...) I can't tell them apart. We (The museum, not my family)  have new baby oxen and we tell them apart by the color bandana they are wearing!

Trick-or-Treating at George Eastman's Boyhood Home. I don't know that if I were typing that I would phrase it like that but that's actually the title of the house at the Museum, "George Eastman's Boyhood Home."
It's supposedly haunted but we saw no paranormal actiivity today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Post Secret Live Event with Frank Warren

    Tonight Leighanne and I attened the PostSecret live event at RIT. Frank Warren, the creator of the PostSecret website and author of the PostSecret books was there giving his talk about the website, insights into the world and sharing secrets-His and other people's.

Postsecret, if you don't already know, is a website, a blog really, that Frank Warren started by printing up 3000 postcards and handing them out to people and asking them to tell him their secrets. Anonymously. And each week, on Sunday, he posts some. By now he's received over 500,000.  Some of the secrets are funny, many are sad, some tragic. Sometimes there you see one or two that you just "get," one that resonates and lets you know that you aren't alone in whatever it is you have a secret about.

Frank Warren is really engaging and seemingly, very nice. He's been through a lot himself and couldn't even put his finger on why he started this site back in 2004. (I can't remember how long I've been reading it but it's not that long.) But his truths about what he's found since then, are truly universal. You may think you have a secret but chances are, someone else has it too. And no matter who you are, you probably have a least one heartbreaking secret. And there's more, but you should go to the event if one comes to your town rather than listen to me talk about Frank Warren's truths. At the end of the night Frank invites you up to share your secrets (I did not do this!) but it was intersting to hear what people had to say. And the tenor of the room was pretty happy and content. I left feeling like "oh hell.... I can deal with just about anything." Because even though some of the secrets were sad, there was a real "we're all in this together kind of vibe."

The event was at a local college and Leighanne and I went to the Lovin Cup first for some dinner and a drink. And what a great place with a wonderful atmosphere and awesome beer on Tap. I ordered an IPA but the waitress brought me something carmely and dark, still awesome!  It was a great time sitting there chatting with Leighanne, one of my all time favorite secret keepers!

There's even a PostSecret iPhone app!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Morning at Durand Eastman Park

What a beautiful day to go walking in the park!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finding Doors, Connecting The Dots & Riding Horses

But you only get once chance at life to leave your mark upon it
And when a pony he comes riding by you better set your sweet ass on it

"Let it Go"
-Zac Brown Band
Recently Jeannine and I were talking about life and how it ebbs and flows and changes. And I misused the lame quote about how when one door closes, another opens. I said something about how when one door closes you find a window or something silly like that. And we basically decided that finding a window actually sucks because you LOOK through a window to what's on the other side and you can't get to it. A door, on the other hand, A door you go through.

And it was right after Steve Jobs died and I read this great commencement speech that he gave and in it, he talked about connecting the dots in your life and how you don't know, until the time has passed, how one thing leads to another in your life. How seemingly insignificnt things have effects you don't anticipate or imagine.

 Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

-Steve Jobs Commencement Speech

Our Riding Hats!
 And so we discussed that now that we have some extra time on our hands, how we should do try some new things. Look for doors and not windows. Scatter some dots in the wind and see where they take us. 

Today they took us horseback riding...

My Horse, Phil.
This was actually Jeannine's addition to the list, but once I heard it, I like'd it even though she didn't think I would. She had been one other time, I've never been.

I found a 45 minute trail ride in a local park and called and made reservations. Being that it was a random weekday, when we got there we were the only people scheduled to go!


We were a little intinmidated by the size of these horses-They were Pertron horses which are Draft horses can can be used for PLOWING...
Jeannine requested the slower one.... I rode a boy named Phil and she had a girl named Lola.  We had an pretty unfriendly guy leading us through the trail. He pretty much kept to himself though so we were able to just enjoy the ride.

Riding On Phil's Back
We went through trails, over a bridge, through mud and next to streams in a local park. It was a gorgeous ride and I would have liked to take some more pics on the ride but you really have to hold the reigns with 2 hands.

These horses were so lovely. I could see why people get all carried away with horses. They listened to exactly what we told then to do with the reigns. They were gentle and I wasn't scared at all. They were huge and felt huge when you were sitting all up there on the saddle! And I could move mine, with the reigns!!!!! ... That was pretty damn neat!

The 45 min was over way too quickly and I think we would both love to do something like this again.

Behind Door Number One!
Later we ate lunch at the Mona Lisa Cafe, which we had never been to before and I had a lovely lunch of Salmon, Spinach and Asparagus. We're documenting our trips on film and Jeannine told me I should have take pics of our lunch. She didn't want me to post this one as it's half eaten. So in the interest of privacy, I won't post her lunch...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Read An Excerpt From My Friend Stephanie 's New Novel, Song Of The Nile!

Hey Folks! A few week ago I announced the release of my dear friend Stephanie Dray's second novel, Song of The Nile.

Today, I'm thrilled to be able to share an excerpt of it right here on this very blog!!! Stephanie has been featured all over cyberspace and has been all over in person lately promoting her new book and she's agreed to let me post an excerpt here!!! So have at it, take a look!

Excerpt from Song of the Nile
Stephanie Dray 
Autumn 25 b.c.
My wedding day dawned rosy as the blush on a maiden’s cheek. Like the sun peeking between pink clouds to warm the sprawling city of terra-cotta roofs below, I must also shine for Rome today. As morning broke, I surveyed the middling monuments that blanketed Rome’s seven hills. I gazed to the Tiber River beyond, diamonds of dawn sparkling on its surface, and tried to see this day with my mother’s eyes.

She was Cleopatra, Pharaoh of Egypt, a woman of limitless aspiration. And I was her only daughter. She’d wanted a royal marriage for me. She may have even hoped my wedding would be celebrated here in Rome. But could she have conceived that this wedding would come to me through her bitterest enemy? In her wildest dreams, could she have imagined that the man who drove her to suicide—the same man who captured her children and dragged us behind his Triumphator’s chariot—would now make me a queen?
Yes, I thought. She could have imagined it. Perhaps she had even planned it.

Worn around my neck, a jade frog amulet dangled from a golden chain. It was a gift from my mother, inscribed with the words I am the Resurrection. On my finger, I wore her notorious amethyst ring, with which she was said to have ensorcelled my father, Mark Antony. It was now my betrothal ring, and I hoped it would steady me, for I was a tempest inside.
At just fourteen years old, I had neither my mother’s audacity nor the brazen courage that allowed her to so famously smuggle herself past enemy soldiers to be rolled out at the feet of Julius Caesar. I had heka—magic—but had inherited none of my mother’s deeper knowledge of how to use it. I didn’t have her wardrobe, her gilded barges, nor the wealth of mighty Egypt. Not yet. But the Romans often said I had her charm and wits  and the day she died, she gave me the spirit of her Egyptian soul.

Today I would need it.

It was early yet in the emperor’s household; only the servants were awake, bustling about the columned courtyard, trimming shrubbery and hanging oil lamps in preparation for the wedding festivities. They were too busy—or too wary of my reputation as a sorceress—to acknowledge my presence beneath an overripe fig tree, where my slave girl and I made my devotions to Isis. My Egyptian goddess was forbidden within the sacred walls of Rome, but no one stopped us from lighting candles and using a feather to trace the holy symbol, the ankh, into the soft earth. The Temples of Isis might be shuttered here in Rome, her altars destroyed and her voice silent, but my goddess dwelt in me and I vowed that she would speak again.

Once we’d offered our prayers, my slave girl and I strolled the gardens with a basket because it was the Roman custom for a bride to pick the flowers for her own wedding wreath. The summer had been ablaze, so hot that flowers lingered out of season. I had my choice in a veritable meadow. Stooping down, I plucked two budding roses to remind me of my dead brothers, Caesarion and Antyllus, both killed in the flower of their youth. I chose a flamboyant red poppy for my dead father, the Roman triumvir, who’d been known as much for his excesses as his military talent. Finally, for my mother, a purple iris because purple was the most royal color, and my mother had been the most royal woman in the world. The sight of a blazing golden flower, the most glorious in the garden, reminded me of my beloved twin. But Helios was only missing, not dead, and I refused to tempt fate by plucking that flower from its vine. Helios promised me that we’d never live to see this day; he swore he’d never let me be married off to one of the emperor’s cronies, but the day had come and Helios was gone.

A startled murmur of slaves made me turn and see a shadow pass between two pillars. It was the emperor. Augustus. The first time I ever saw him, he was a dark conquering god, a crimson-faced swirl of purple cloak and laurel leaf, ready to mount his golden chariot and bear me away as his chained prisoner. Today he wore only a broad-brimmed hat and a humble homespun tunic cut short enough to expose his knobby knees. But the smile he wore with it wasn’t humble. This morning—the morning of the day he’d give me away in marriage—Augustus looked supremely smug.

He was without his usual retinue of barbers, secretaries, and guards. Even so, the slaves, including my Chryssa, all dropped to their knees and genuflected. He stepped over their prone bodies as if he were one of the Eastern rulers he derided for tyranny, for he was the master here. He owned everything in this garden: the Greek statuary, the marble benches, the colorful flowers, and the slaves. For four years now, I’d been his royal hostage and he believed he owned me too.

One day soon, I meant to prove him wrong.

“Good morning, Caesar,”I said, sweeping dark hair from my eyes.
Understand that the emperor wasn’t an imposing man. His power was all in the snare of his ruthless winter gray eyes which now darkened with suspicion, as if he’d caught me trying to slip past his praetorians with their crested helmets and crimson capes. “What mischief are you up to, Cleopatra Selene?”

After all the opportunities I’d declined to run away from him, it was strange that he’d suspect me of it now. I wondered what accounted for his latest paranoia. “I’m only gathering flowers for my wedding wreath.”
I showed him my basket, and seemingly satisfied, he glanced over his shoulder through the open doors to where he received clients and other morning visitors. The tabulinum was now empty except for the clutter of scrolls, brass oil lamps, and busts of his ancestors, the Julii, each painted to create the most lifelike rendition. “Walk with me,”the emperor said, and I did, for no one refused him. “This morning I granted an audience to an ambassador from Judea, Selene. King Herod sends a last-minute wedding proposal. He wishes to take you as his junior wife.”

The mere mention of Herod’s name made my steps falter. The Judean king had been my mother’s rival and had long urged the Romans to exterminate my whole family. The news that he wished to make me, the last daughter of the pharaohs, a part of his harem, actually forced a gasp from my lungs. The proposal would have been more insulting if it were anything other than a pretext to kill me. Herod had already murdered his most beloved wife to make an end to her Hasmonean dynasty. He wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep over my death. “Caesar, you cannot mean to give me to Herod. You swore to make me Queen of Mauretania!”

Augustus smiled. I think it pleased him to see me lose my footing, to see my confidence waver. “Trust in Caesar, Selene. You’re already promised to another and in such an important matter as your marriage, I wouldn’t cater to the whim of a Jew—even if he’s already proved his loyalty, and you haven’t. Yet.”

I breathed, realizing that he’d told me this only to frighten me. To remind me of his largesse. To make me gasp with fear and then relief. Though Augustus was more than twenty years my senior, no wicked boy plucking wings off insects loved cruel games as much as he did. He stopped beside a small sphinx he’d pilfered from Egypt to adorn his garden. “Be grateful, Selene. By the end of this evening, you’ll be the wife of a newly made king, and the wealthiest woman in the empire. Not even your mother could have asked for more.”
Of course, she did ask for more. Offering her crown and scepter to him in surrender, she’d asked that her children be allowed to rule Egypt after her. Then she took her own life. My mother’s suicide had been convenient for him in every way, and I’m certain that his advisers all breathed easier when she breathed her last, but Augustus had been shocked by her death. Shaken by it. Octavian always wants most what he cannot have, she’d said, as if she’d known that it would ignite an obsession in him. He’d wanted her alive. He’d wanted her as a trophy. He’d settled upon me instead. “Half of Rome will be here for your wedding, Selene. Let my enemies bear witness to how kindly I treat Antony’s daughter. Your father’s partisans may whisper that I’m the descendant of slaves, but let them see how the grandson of a rope maker now gives away a royal princess in marriage.”

There it was. The cavernous insecurity at the center of his character that drove his every action. It didn’t matter that he’d vanquished all his rivals. Not his ever-expanding imperial compound with its marble and showy gardens, not the mountains of gold in his coffers, nor the might of his legions would ever conquer his fear that somewhere, someone was laughing at him. “Are you sure it shouldn’t be a simpler wedding, Caesar? More in keeping with austere Roman values?”I asked, because I feared Roman crowds and knew from bitter experience that they could be dangerous.

He tilted his head, his eyes shadowed beneath the brim of his hat. “I mean for your wedding to be a spectacle and you’re too ambitious to want it any other way. Today will make plain to Isis worshippers who foment dissent in Rome and rebellion in Egypt that they dare not oppose me, for I have a Cleopatra of my very own. Remember our bargain. Marry the man I choose for you and do as I command. Glorify me and I’ll show mercy to your surviving brothers, your countrymen, and to those who worship your loathsome foreign goddess. Be my Cleopatra and one day your mother’s Egypt may be yours.”

By late afternoon, the slaves had stripped my room bare. The golden incense burners, the red and green tapestries, the painted oil lamps, and even the kithara harp I played to amuse the emperor—almost everything that had ever lent color or comfort to my room here—all packed into trunks and satchels. Turning my eyes to my dressing table, I thought of the loose brick beneath it, the one Helios used to pull out of the wall so that we could whisper to one another when the Romans slept. We’d never do that again, I realized. Even if the emperor’s hounds hunted down my runaway twin brother and hauled him back to the Palatine, I wouldn’t be here . . .

With a sharp knock at my door, the emperor’s sister marched to my side to attend me. It was a mother’s duty to dress her daughter for marriage and Lady Octavia was the closest thing to a mother that I had left in this world. She’d been my father’s wife when he embarked upon his grand love affair with my mother. But after my parents were sealed in their tombs, Octavia had collected all my father’s children. Though she was a rigid woman, I’d come to love her. Even so, it felt like betrayal to let her take my mother’s place on this day. We were awkward together as we hadn’t been in years. “Well,”she said, both hands on her fleshy hips. “Let’s get you ready, Selene.”

She used a special comb to divide my hair into the six segments of the tutulus, the traditional hairstyle worn by Roman brides. “What a vicious little comb,”I hissed, wincing as she tugged mercilessly. “Why is it shaped like a spear?”

“It’s to drive out ill fortune,”she said, cheerfully. “It’s also to remind us of the Sabine women, the first Roman wives, forced to wed at the tip of a spear!”

“That hardly seems like something to be remembered with pride,”I muttered.

Octavia only tilted my chin with a sentimental sigh. “Oh, Selene, you’re going to be a lovely bride. Your father was always given to emotion, you know, and I think if he saw you, it would bring a tear to his eye.”In spite of the many wrongs he’d done her, Octavia never spoke against my father, for which I was grateful. “I think you have Antony’s best qualities.”
This puzzled me because my father had been a big jolly man with a raucous laugh whereas I was slender and decidedly sober. “I can’t imagine how I’m like my father.”

“He inspired people and so do you,”she said. “My daughters imitate you. Your royal poise, the way you hold your posture, and your piety. Because you work so hard at your lessons, the little ones study more. It’s your gift, Selene. You lead everyone around you to aspire to something greater. Even me.”

I stammered, because it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. “E-even you?”
As the emperor’s sister, Octavia had always held influence. Now that her son Marcellus had married the emperor’s daughter, Lady Octavia was the most powerful woman in Rome. Wearing her distinctively severe hairstyle with its knot over her brow like a crown, she lifted her chin. “As the emperor’s heir, my son is still young, untested. Marcellus will need guidance more than ever and I think I can help him. He and Julia need to win over the people so I’m going to find a way to fund a beautiful new theater as a gift to the city.”
“They’re fortunate to have an ally in you,”I said, knowing how this would irritate the emperor’s ambitious wife, Livia. Octavia had supplanted her role as First Woman in Rome. Truly, it was a new day.

Octavia seemed to feel it too. “You’ve made a good match, Selene! And your story sounds so romantic. Two scions of African royalty. Two orphans saved by the emperor and adopted into his family, only to become stewards over a new land. Why, if I were your age, I might even envy you this marriage. Your groom is such a handsome young man.”
“I’m familiar with his virtues,”I said, for Juba was no stranger to me. The deposed Numidian princeling was a scholar. Such a prodigy, in fact, that he’d been my tutor. Once I’d even counted him a friend. Now he was just the husband the emperor had chosen for me and the first step I must take on my path back to Egypt.

“You’re a lucky girl,”Octavia chattered on. “He’s going to be a splendid, civilized king. Rex Literatissimus, they call him. And such a fine specimen of a man—no woman in Rome can avoid following him with her eyes. But remember that he is a man. No sweet boy like my Marcellus.”Given the clumsy way her hands worked in my hair, and her unusually breezy banter, I realized that she was working up to something. “Selene, do you know what Juba will expect from you in the bridal bed?”

My cheeks burned. Everyone imagined my mother as a seductress with great knowledge of the sensual arts, but I’d been young when she died; she’d never shared any of that particular wisdom with me. “I—I think I can guess.”
Octavia now looked sour, as if she were about to face a torment of the spirit. “This is what will happen. When you’re alone in the bridal chamber, Juba will call you wife and draw you into his arms. But you mustn’t go willingly or he’ll think you’re a lupa.”A she-wolf, she said, but she meant whore. “You must shy away and struggle just enough to please him but not enough to make him angry. Then submit to him as your husband and your king.”

Helios is my king. The thought came to me so suddenly and unbidden that I feared that I’d said it aloud. My twin was the rightful King of Egypt and dearer to me than I could dare admit. Some said that it was for his sake that the city of Thebes had rebelled. I’d bargained for my twin’s life, so I’d have to submit to the emperor’s wishes and to Juba too. I’d just have to remind myself every day how fortunate I was not to be married off to old King Herod of Judea.

When my little gray cat leapt onto the dressing table, upsetting a tray of hairpins and ribbons, Octavia cried, “Wretched creature! I won’t be sorry to see that beast leave with you. I can’t see why cats are sacred in Egypt. They’re nothing but mischief.”Bast took no notice of this insult, purring and burrowing into my arms while Octavia scowled. “Oh dear. I’m making a mess of your hair. My fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to be. I’ll let your ornatrix fix it.”
My slave girl fixed my hairstyle, and then we dallied until dusk, trying to decide between two pairs of sandals, one of which was prettier but pinched my toes. At last, Chryssa helped me into my wedding garments. The white muslin tunica and accompanying girdle. The floral wreath and the orange flame-colored veil. This was the garb of a modest Roman bride, but in spite of all the years I’d lived amongst my father’s people, it still looked foreign to me. When I glanced into the polished silver mirror, I groaned in dismay. Octavia had bound my hair in such a way that it smothered everything unique about me. The white muslin left me looking pale, hiding what beauty I possessed, and I was all but suffocated by the saffron veil. “It’s horrible.”

“No,”Chryssa said, softly. “You’re a beautiful bride.”
But this was something people said to brides, whether or not it was true. I pulled the veil away. “I need . . . something else.”

Chryssa’s eyes widened. “It’s almost time for the wedding. Half the city is at the gates.”
This did nothing to calm me. Roman weddings were supposed to be small and modest affairs, simple contracts that required only a few witnesses. Mine would be different. The guests would be looking to see if I was just a Roman girl, the daughter of Mark Antony, or if I was Cleopatra’s daughter, a sorceress whose blood made flowers grow, whose hands left crocodiles docile in her wake. As the foremost worshipper of Isis in Rome, stories about me had passed from temple to temple, tavern to tavern, and the slaves and the lower classes whispered that I might bring them a Golden Age. I’d emboldened them. Perhaps I’d inspired them. So maybe I need not fear the crowds; I wasn’t a prisoner anymore.

Be my Cleopatra, the emperor said, and one day your mother’s Egypt may be yours.
Augustus was a grand actor in a pageant of his own creation and the only way to remain in his favor was to play my role. He wanted spectacle? Well, I would give him one. With deep resolution, I unwound the braids that Octavia had so painstakingly fastened, brushing out my dark hair so that it curled and cascaded, loose and free over my shoulders. “I won’t be a Roman bride,”I said. “My mother was Pharaoh and I’ll let no one forget it.”

Chryssa’s mouth formed a circle of surprise when I threw open my wardrobe chest, giving no care to the fact that the slaves had carefully packed it for the journey. I rifled through it until I found a beautiful diaphanous gown that Helios had given me. Octavia had tried to make it modest with stitches and brooches. Now I refashioned it. Removing the pins, I wrapped the gown under my arms and tied it between my breasts in the knot of Isis, the tiet, a loop with trailing sides that was a variant of the ankh. My wide-eyed slave girl watched me as if I’d gone mad. “You’re going to give insult. You’ll anger the emperor!”

“I know him better than you do.”Since I was a little child, I’d learned to play all the emperor’s games; this was just one more. Be my Cleopatra, the emperor had said, and I was young and foolish enough to believe I knew what that meant. “Don’t stand there gaping, Chryssa. Help me!”

Reluctantly, she went to my dressing table, searching for the proper cosmetic pots, as I told her what to do. My mother had been a Hellenistic queen, and when she dressed for the civilized Greek-speaking world, she dressed accordingly. But she’d also been Pharaoh of Egypt. It was that reminder of Egypt I wanted now, so I urged Chryssa to draw on my eyelids with black kohl, the dark lines of the wedjat—the eye of Horus. Then she used the greens and blues and reds of Egypt to color my face. When she was done, I held up the mirror and peered at myself with the green eyes of a jungle cat, exotic and wild. “You need more jewelry,”Chryssa suggested, finally warming to the idea. “Something sparkling to go with your little jade frog and betrothal ring.”

I knew just the thing. Carefully wrapped in the bloodstained dress I’d worn as a prisoner, was a golden snake armlet with gemstone eyes that my mother left for me when she’d foreseen her own death. I retrieved it from under my mattress, where I’d kept the bundle hidden for years, and slipped the armlet up until it hugged my bicep, its history merging with my skin. The effect was dazzling and scandalous. “You look like your mother’s portraits,”Chryssa breathed.
But I saw in myself someone entirely new.

I hope you enjoyed! You can read her bio below but I'll also tell you that in addition to being a stunning writer, she's also seriously clever and funny! She's a wonderful and loyal friend and I count myself lucky to be a part of her life! She so much fun and she'll even CALL IN to your book club if you read her book!!! She's so cool that she recently sent my daughter a PRINCESS OF THE NILE BARBIE DOLL-Possibly the coolest Barbie you'll ever see and she's sends me books when she thinks I need them.

Stephanie graduated from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…
Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.
Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.
But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?
Berkley Trade October 2011 (Trade Paperback)
# ISBN-10: 0425243044
# ISBN-13: 9780425243046
You can pick up the book at any of the following locations!
Constellation Books

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogging by Phone

This is the first ever blog post that I've done via phone.

Around the garden today. Also taken by phone...

Can you believe the quality of these images? I really cannot get over them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Blessing of a Fever

Last night my girl came down with a fever. Out of nowhere really. Her grandparents picked her up from school she played with her friends on the playground and then she put up Halloween decorations. After that she promptly fell asleep on her grandma's bed.

It wasn't really high like the time we had the flu but she didn't want to eat anything and she was really tired. This morning, it was low grade but, still there so I kept her home from school.

And we watched Ice Ace Dawn of The Dinosaurs and the Zombie Penguins from Madagasgar and we sat on the couch while I paid bills online and she played Angry Birds on my new phone. And I realized what a good time I was having. I realized that I can't remember the last time that she an I were home alone together in our pj's all morning. (Probably the time we had the flu.) And we had a great time. She was good and I was patient and we talked a lot and cuddled.

I've been having a rough couple of weeks as far as integrating work and home and I couldn't really figure out why until today. I've worked a lot of weekends lately and some extra hours. Which is really no different from the summer. The difference, I realized, was that since my family either works at or attends school, that means that it doesn't matter if I work weekends in the summer because everyone is still home when I'm home during the week. Now, in October, I haven't been home on the weekends and everyone else is gone when I'm home during the week (Don't get me wrong, I do like my solitude sometimes) but I realized today that I had been missing my girl. It was so great to just be home. And have to stay there, because I'll tell you, I had things planned for today.

I'm glad the world had other plans for me though. My husband got home and I went to the Y by myself and then grocery shopping. It kind of felt like vacation all over again. I'm glad the universe gave me and my girl a time out together!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bustle at The Beer Fest

Baby Got Back
 So I wore the Bustle to the Beer Fest.

I didn't get a picture, uugh, but one of my blog readers (Hi Sara!) came over and saw me and told me that the bustle does in fact, stick out way more than you would imagine in the photo!

And so it was a big hit (mostly!) Anyone who came over to the table where we were pouring could easily see the relationship of the clothing to the beer. The other people, not so much.... There were in fact, about 3000 people there and I got some crazy looks from people as I walked through the crowd to get some water, and later, some lunch. Some of the looks, I would even characterize as mean. Picture this weird re-enactor looking woman strolling around in 80 degree weather in this getup! See what I mean... I kept my head up and continued to stroll around like a 19th century lady...

Brian Making Beer At The Museum
 We poured a lot of beer! 2 half kegs in 4 hours. The amazing thing was that we poured 3 oz glasses. That's a lot of 3oz glasses!

The crowd was fun and nice and a lot of them loved the museum and the beer. As the day went on, the crowd got more and more, hmmm... friendly..... I had my picture taken with a group of guys who have a friend who works at the museum and well as with a few other random people, many people told me how much they loved the dress, one guy told me he would visit the museum if I promised to dress up like that, one told me he really wanted to grab my butt (and used his hands to illustrate) and one fellow who was cooking chicken behind us said something to me that I'm too embarrassed to write here.... Beer sure makes people chatty.... (although I'm not even sure the chicken cooking guy had been drinking....) I honestly think it's the stark contrast that the clothing makes in a place like this, that has a lot to do with people's reactions to it. Well that and the alcohol...

Malted Barley Is Kind Of Crunchy
 Additionally, by the end of the day, instead of asking for the Fat Ox Ale, many people asked me for the Fox ale. Also, we had a display with tee-shirts and the such and part of it included a stoneware plate with an example of the barley used to brew the beer. There are 3 kinds, a dark, medium and a light one and Brian put them in the dish in the ratios that they are used to brew. It was a DISPLAY. By the end of the day, I cannot tell you how many people just reached in and ATE it....Just ate pices of the display.... Barley is pretty crunchy.

It was a great event and people were a lot of fun. I saw a surprising number of people that I knew, my husband put on a Fat Ox shirt and helped pour and we all talked to a lot of people about the museum and the brewing that we do there. Brian is our brewmaster, so he provided a lot of interesting info to the public(Mostly about beer, although one person asked us if we talked in accents at the museum, he informed him, that no, we don't....) It was a way different crowd than we get at the museum and for that reason I think it was awesome that we got to do this and expose people to something they might not normally encounter (My butt included.... )

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Bustling Around Town Tomorrow

Oh my goodness, time flies, I've hardly been able to get to this blog because other things just keep popping up!

Tomorrow, I'll be pouring the museum's 1803 Fat Ox Ale at the Custom BrewCrafters Autumn  Festival Of Ales along with my friend and co-worker Brian. I'll be in full costume complete with BUSTLE!! He'll be in costume too, sans bustle.

 I so adore this dress.

It's an 1870's Victorian dress and it's a copy of a dress described in a Charles Dickens novel. (although at the moment, the novel is escaping me.)

Also 1876 was the centennial of our country so a lot of ladies styles reflected that era as well, so even though it's late 19th Century, it has a touch of Revolutionary War flair to it.

It's even better from the side, I'll try and get a picture tomorrow. It's worn with a full corset and caged petticoat that looks kind of this. The dress sticks out at least 12 inches from my body.
The bustle is called a polonaise bustle and the cage and the bustle (which is part of the top of the dress, it's a 2-piece number)  necessitate a lot of touching of my butt-I usually invite people to do so because it's rather interesting if you've never seen something like this up close before. And many people have not. Most museum pieces of clothing cannot be handled. This dress is a copy and was made recently, not in the 19th Century, thus it's a teaching piece as well as a really pretty dress.  It is also not that difficult to sit in as the cage folds up like an accordion. (in case you were wondering, most people do.)

 I first wore it in the fashion show at our Laura Ingalls Wilder event at the museum. It was around 90 degrees in the picture and I'm also wearing elbow length gloves (and carrying a hand fan.)  It was SO HOT in this dress. After the show I got to walk around and add color to the village (no joke!) and people came up to me to get their picture taken with me! Mostly little girls in prairie garb. I felt like Snow White at Disney World.

It's not my dress, but how I wish it were.... I know the woman who made it and I've more than once thought that I should commission her to make one for me. A blue one. Robin's egg blue... Alas, I don't really have that much cause to dress up at the museum so I probably won't. I also need my own corset (they are made to your body) and plan to take the next corset making workshop that I can get into-They fill up FAST!) Everything fits better in your own. The one I wear is a little big on me.

I've been in both the 1812 Fashion Show wearing a very Jane Austenish dress as well as this one in the Laura Ingalls fasion show, so I'm pretty comfortable wearing these dresses in public (at the museum anyway!)  However, there are supposed to be 3000 people at this event tomorrow and only 2 of them are going to be in 19th Century clothing.... That should make for an interesting time!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Song of The Nile by Stephanie Dray


Today, October 4th is the day that my friend Stephanie Dray's much anticipated 2nd novel, Song of the Nile is being released! Very exciting news! Her writing is simply superb! And reviews are coming in very positive from all directions!


Cleopatra’s daughter is the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…
Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus Caesar in exchange for a throne. Now the young Queen of Mauretania faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. As a religious icon, she wins the love of her new subjects, begins building a new capital city and brings forth bountiful harvests for Rome.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very pinnacle of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?

The book is the 2nd in a trilogy, the first of which Lily of The Nile, was released last year to great fanfare! It will be followed by a 3rd installment, due out in 2012. These books are not to be missed!!!