Free Fiction by me: “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” on StarShipSofa

Hey look, a new story by me!

This story previously appeared in Analog, which is not freely available, so I am especially happy that it is now available for anybody who didn’t grab a physical copy at the time!

For those of you not familiar with StarShipSofa, here is my write up from way back in 2011:

This podcast can only be described as adorable. It is so clearly by the people, for the people and the host is such a nice guy, that you can’t help but love it. However, I would definitely not recommend this for everyone. It’s a lot more than just audio fiction. Although they do include at least one story in every episode, it’s more like one feature among many, instead of the main event. The very, very long episodes contain author interviews, genre news, genre history, upcoming book releases, etc. If you’re really into science fiction in general, then there is a lot to offer here.

On this particular episode it starts off with my story straight away, but I do highly recommend you stick around and listen to the fascinating “science news” segment.

Billy Elliot Opens Tonight!


Evelyn is ready to SHINE tonight at the premiere of Billy Elliot! You only have three weeks to come and see the show, so get your tickets now!

(I can tell you from sitting outside 10 weeks of rehearsal, it is going to be AMAZING!)

“The Brush”

I wasn’t very close to my Uncle Lenny growing up (although I did forget that he lived with us for a while while he worked on our house). I remember seeing his “Brush” logo on magnets and his van, I remember he was always wearing paint-splattered clothes, and maybe he used to have a thing at his house in the summer and we played volleyball? I don’t remember.

I don’t think I could really “see” Uncle Lenny until I was an adult.

In fact, I remember the exact moment: we had gone over to his house to pick pears, and he was showing us around his place. Evelyn was playing with the kittens, and at that time I think he had his turkeys? Anyway, it was one of the few times I was ever over to his place without a big crowd of people. He was showing us around, showing us around the barn. He just seemed so happy, and proud, and just…in the moment. Like he was where he was supposed to be, you know?

And I remember I just had this lightning bolt moment, like “Uncle Lenny has got his life set just exactly how he wants it.” I mean, most people spend all this time working and saving and striving, and we never really get there. But Uncle Lenny had cracked the code: he was more or less satisfied with his life. (This must have been in 2006, because I briefly mentioned it on the blog, so Evelyn and the kittens must have been later.)

I don’t think most people wanted to live Lenny’s life, and so they might have looked at it and said, “He must have been unhappy.” And as I’m typing this out I can almost hear him saying, “I don’t give a shit about what most people say.” And he’s right, because most people will never feel as content as Lenny felt when he was sitting out back of his house at a bonfire. Never.

I can’t even tell you how enraptured I was with Uncle Lenny’s yard, and it was 100% the catalyst for buying our property up in Michigan. In 2011 I wrote:

My Uncle Lenny’s yard has always been something of an inspiration to me. He’s got some awesome fruit trees, a little pool with a waterfall and actual, flowering lily pads, and a nice little cozy yet open area off the back deck. However, this time I got to see an awesome new (to me) feature, which I never knew about before.

A large section of his yard is densely wooded, and through this area winds a series of paths. You enter through a trellis-framed door, and if you follow the main path, you wind almost 800 feet to the little cleared camping area in the back. On the way you pass through a spooky wooded section, a more open back section, and even come upon a pine-tree-fairy-ring. I cannot tell you how cool the whole thing is! I enjoyed the first trip through so much, I took a second trip. Oliver apparently found it relaxing as well, since he fell asleep on my head.

The first thing Ollie said when I told him about Uncle Lenny was, “What’s going to happen to all the Santas?” Christmas was Uncle Lenny’s season. Whether it was decorating his house for the Christmas party, sneaking an unexpected gift into the dice game, or dressing up as Santa and giving the kids toys, he just had this grin on his face. I mean, who would have guessed the quiet guy off to the side in the cowboy hat had a house full of tiny Santas?

Lenny was kind of a man of contradictions. On the outside he was rough and tumble, but on the inside there was nothing he liked more than bringing joy to someone. If you didn’t know Lenny well, then you’d probably be surprised to hear it, but if you did know Lenny well then you’re not surprised at all.

Rest in peace, Uncle Lenny. World lost a true original.

Aunt Helen’s Apple Pie Cake

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

You’ve probably heard of people joining a CSA: you buy a “share” and then every two weeks you pick up a load of whatever fresh vegetables happen to be in season.

We have recently joined an apple CSA, which means every two weeks we get another 10 lbs of apples, straight from the orchard.

You call it an apple CSA, I call it PURE BLISS.


The Journey:

I love apple anything.

I love apples like a lazy house painter loves the rain. I love apples like Trader Joe loves pumpkin flavored food. I love apples like Evelyn loves solid color leggings with mostly matching solid color shirts.

I love apples.


If you really want to look like a genius, instead of using 2 eggs, you can use 1 egg + 3 egg whites, and parlay those 3 egg yolks into a batch of Charred Brussels Sprouts Carbonara.

The Verdict:

Nothing pairs better with cool, dim, slightly-rainy days and the crinkle of leaves under your feet than the taste of apples and cinnamon. Nothing tastes more sweaters and knitting and holding your loved ones close before the eternal Chicago winter steals your breath and settles in your bones.

So soft and moist, so fall-like. I definitely recommend a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. Maybe a steaming mug of tea on the side.


The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from the 1999 Marne United Methodist Church cookbook, or previous to that, from Sara’s mom’s Aunt Helen.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 5 cups chopped apples (about 4 large apples)
  • 4 Tbsp. hot water (forgot this, but it turned out fine, so?)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream butter with mixer; beat in sugar and eggs
  3. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda, and flour
  4. Add nuts, apples, water, and vanilla and fold together (with spoon, not mixer)
  5. Bake in 9×13 pan for 40 to 45 minutes.
  6. Serve warm or cooled with whipped cream or ice cream

9 Month Comparison Photos


You can see from Ollie’s photo that we actually missed taking his 9 month photo on the 12th, so we had to get it the next day.

You can also see that we had to give him a piece of paper to play with so he wouldn’t crumple the sign, and let me tell you, that was a good idea! This was about the only photo in which Alex wasn’t grabbing for the sign, crumpling the sign, waving the sign around…

He certainly is a mischief maker these days. One of his favorite things to do is to pull himself up to stand at the bookshelf and just pull all the books off one by one. If you clean them up he gets mad, like, “Hey! I just spent a lot of time doing that you know!”

He still crawls like a maniac and is often not happy being held (since, yanno, less mischief that way!). He can walk a bit if you hold his hands and lately he has been letting go of things while standing up. I counted a record of 4 seconds of free standing without holding on to anything.

Won’t be long until we look back at these crawling days as being so easy and relaxed…

Quote Monday has a good imagination

Ollie: “I know if there is a fire, we meet at the meeting place. But what do we do if there’s a war?”

::Ollie telling me a scary story::
Me: “You have a good imagination.”
Ollie: “No, I have a bad imagination! It always makes me think of this scary stuff!”

Evelyn: “What kind of apples are they?”
Sara: “Empire.”
Ollie: “Vampire??”

Unidentified Funny Objects 5 out today!

The Unidentified Funny Objects anthology is now out, including my story “The Lesser of Two Evils”!

I tell you, it never gets old holding a book in your hand with your words in it.


The fifth annual volume of the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series features eighteen lighthearted science fiction and fantasy tales from the masters of the genre. Read about planetary adoptions, secret agent princesses, alien cooking reality shows, rigged elections, magical insurance agents, and much more.

That’s right, one of the “masters of the genre”, right here:


Available in paperback or for kindle.

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