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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Calculations

It's the weekend, and then you have time to spare. My sister and I spent some of this time trying to calculate how high (or low, depends on interpretation) my actual pension will be. Earlier on, I got news I could make my application for pension, which I did. But the official services always take their time in figuring out how much you'll actually get.

Luckily, I have a sister who knows a bit about how this pension is calculated. For me, it's important to know how much net I get. You have to pay taxes and for social security, but it depends on the gross sum. At least now I know more or less how it will turn out (she might be a few euro off, she knows from experience).  I'll get my pension as civil servant this year, and once 2019 I'll get an extra pension for the time I worked as publisher and freelancer, and also something for the time I was unemployed (it was a bad time in the 80's when like 3000 teachers were put on the streets by closure of schools).

Well, I guess I'll sleep without worries now! A pity my sister still has to work six more years... Otherwise we could move to the coast immediately and travel when or where we like to go.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday afternoon and feeling bored...

Although I quite enjoy not having to work anymore, sometimes I feel a little blue. Like this afternoon. I had a pretty busy morning, running errands, doing some reading and some writing and then having lunch.

After lunch, I began cleaning the house, but that didn't take very long as it was not very dirty. Hey, I'm not one who runs around with a Swiffer but I still like to see my house clean. But with only two adults inside, there is not so much that can get dirty.

After my cleaning, I had a cup of coffee (which I still brew like in the old days, pouring water through a filter) and read some more. But now I don't know what to do next. So this is my therapy to escape boredom!

Writing really helps to filter feelings. You can write away frustrations, anger, joy, whatever. I remember I once was so mad at a guy I imagined killing him in different ways. That prose lies around somewhere in my attic. Writing about my intentions was enough not to act upon them. Otherwise I'd be in  jail for murder. I can also make up nicer stories, like meeting the man of my dreams (although, nowadays, not so much any more) or even better, about winning a big pot in the lottery. Oh, what I'd do with all that money....

So, how is your Friday???

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The do's and dont's

Every seasoned traveler knows how important it is to be acquainted with the customs and ways of a country he/she will be visiting. Because not everywhere they have the same way of living as you're familiar with.

So because of our upcoming trip to Argentina, I've been spending some hours a day lately to read as much about the country as I possibly can. Well, the general things remain the same: don't flash your (expensive) smartphone, don't wear costly jewelry, and take care of your purse and credit cards.



We've been to South America before (Peru and Bolivia) so we know to take care of pickpockets. One member of our group got robbed of his expensive camera and I lost my gold earrings. Nowadays I travel without earrings and just take along some cheap ones (2-3 €) to wear for dinner.  We also take along an old-fashioned phone (of some ten years ago) in which we put our SIM card. It still works and in time of need you can make a phone call. Credit cards and ready cash we always try to put in a deep pocket, so we don't need a handbag. That way you don't look like a tourist at first sight. We equally have an old camera (still in working order) so we can take pics but don't need to be afraid someone will be wanting that old junk!

For the rest, mostly it's only common sense.  By trying not to be a tourist at first sight, we've visited many places and never been robbed of anything. Once a lesson learned...

What I haven't done is taking lessons in Spanish. Both my sister and I know some elementary vocabulary from earlier trips to Spain and anyway, they don't speak quite the same in South America. I had a student from Venezuela some years ago, and she has told me a lot about the difference in pronunciation. We're quick though to pick up local speech, and it won't take too long before we can order our food in what counts for Spanish, or ask for directions, etc.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine

On the early side, but I'd like to wish everyone reading this a Happy Valentine!



Like I told before, my sister and I like to decorate our house according to the season. This is just a sample of how the entire house looks/

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Making arrangements for our upcoming trip

This morning we had to go to town hall to make an application to get a passport. Normally, when traveling in Europe you don't need one. Only an identity card.

We used to have a passport until 5 years ago. We traveled a lot across the ocean or towards the East when we were younger. The last few years, we've been making trips in Europe only (albeit it sometimes 6 or 7 times a year). There were so many places in countries such as France and Italy which we hadn't seen before. So went to La Rochelle and the Côte d'Azur, to Rome and Venice, to Budapest, Stockholm and Visby, to the Channel Islands and various places in the UK.

But as we are now going to Argentina, we need a passport. The new one will be valid for 7 years, so that will give us much opportunity to make cross-continent trips. We are already considering Oman for next year and would also like to do some cruises.

Btw, I'm glad to be inside because it's snowing lightly. Not much fun outside, unless you're a kid. My sister also needs some rest in the weekend, as her job is very demanding and she's not getting any younger either.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Soldier's Woman

Allow me to introduce author Kelly Lyonns today. Kelly is doing a virtual book blast tour for the publication of her novel The Soldier's Woman, a historical regency romance available as of today from Atlas Productions.



Kelly will be awarding a digital copy of The Soldier's Woman to 5 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Leave a comment, and you can win. Please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2144

Blurb

It is 1810 somewhere in the chaos of war-ravaged Napoleonic Portugal. Miss Charlotte Everslea, dedicated member of an ancient secretive Guild and skilled paranormal artefacts hunter, has found herself trapped behind enemy lines. Colonel Maximillian Bladewood is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, both on and off the battlefield. But the petite golden-haired hoyden, to whose accidental intervention he owes his life, challenges both his authority and his sanity. Their cross-purposed journey will reach a crossroad where one or both of them will need to compromise.



Excerpt

When Charlotte met Maxmillian


He was still holding her, and she wasn’t quite sure what to do next. There was a pause as she felt him lean back a little, probably trying to catch a glimpse of her face. It was extremely silly, but despite everything she had already faced, she couldn’t look him in the eye, couldn’t bear him seeing the red puffy proof of her crying. 

“I wish I had a handkerchief to offer.” The deep quiet voice above her head paused, “Sadly, mine are with my dress uniform in a supply wagon, somewhere on the other side of this battlefield I should think.”

She was grateful for his attempt to invoke the humour and even a little civility to their situation.

“I most sincerely apologise, Sir.” Heavens above, her voice came out as a wavering snuffle. She could absolutely not look up.

He neither moved nor answered for some long moments. She felt a little trill of something like panic building in her chest. When he did speak, the words were all gentleness, despite the dust roughened rasp. 

“It is of no consequence Madam. I think that we find ourselves in an unusual situation.” He cleared his throat before adding quietly, “I have seen strong men break down and weep after a battle. There is no shame in this.”

The little alarm that had been building evaporated. She still stood inside his arms. He had made no attempt to release her, but then neither had she made any sign that she wished it. Suddenly realising she needed to do exactly that, she stiffened in his arms and gave the barest push with her hands. Was it her imagination, or was there a moment of hesitation before he let her go? With an unsettling mix of relief and regret she stepped away, head averted to avoid his gaze. She was glad there was no witness to their strange introduction. What an impression she was making.  

“Nevertheless, I apologise for such a display.” 

 “Please do not berate yourself for such a social lapse. Not here… in this Godless place.” 



Author bio and links

After earning a living as a freelance environmental scientist, writer and editor, Kelly Lyonns has evolved into a creative writer. She cohabitates with three cats, two children and a husband in a house so packed with character even the termites live next door. Burning questions about ecological sustainability and how to tie a Regency bodice, keep her on the internet deep into the night. 

She enjoys tea, meditating, Jane Austen, solar punk, science fiction, sculpting and science. She frequently succumbs to the need to write. She rarely succumbs to the need to vacuum.




Connect with Kelly at:

Website:  http://kalyonnswrites.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyLyonnsAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellylyonns

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dragons of the Ice

Dragonlings are a challenge at the best of times. When a plot is discovered to extinguish the dragon shifters of the world, parents-to-be Petra and Dagmar, Olga and Lee fear for the future.

Meet author C.L. Kraemer, one of my co-authors at Rogue Phoenix Press. Our publisher is organising a virtual book tour for the new publications, and this is one of them. Just like with any other book tour, it pays to leave a comment, because you can win a prize. Christie Kramer will be awarding an ebook copy of one of her titles to one randomly drawn commenter.

Blurb

Unexpected dragon shiftings have increased since the conference in China. More deaths being covered up inexplicably sends Lee Svensson to Japan to investigate from the Swedish Embassy. Why is it World Watch, Inc., a marketing company, is always on site when a shifter dies? Lee is charged to find out. When the husband of his wife’s best friend discovers an account he is managing, World Watch, Inc., is manipulating oil companies by buying up all available stocks, the two realize their paths are the same. Now that their wives have announced the impending births of dragonlings, it is imperative the men solve this riddle. An American dragoness shifter and former full blood warrior dragon will prove courage comes in all sizes.



Excerpt

Japan

The flight to Tokyo was tedious and Lee Svensson was not a good traveler. Airplanes exacerbated his claustrophobia, and the air turbulence upset his stomach. He disembarked with the passengers heading into the terminal. It never ceased to amaze him how polite Japanese travelers were. The walkways, while crowded, found the citizens accommodating to one another and foreigners. Lee located his luggage at the baggage retrieval. A close by kiosk offered instructions for the second leg of his journey. He purchased a rail ticket to Sapporo and flagged a vacant taxi willing to take him to the station. After settling in his window seat, Lee opted to close his eyes and allow the gentle movement of the bullet train lull him to sleep. There were two changes to make before he reached his destination far to the north of Tokyo in the Hokkaido prefecture.
This was his first trip away from Olga since they'd wed before the spring conference. If there hadn't been so much evidence against the target, he would've passed off this assignment to another. The nature of the investigation, however, required his presence at the offices in Sapporo.
"Sir? Excuse me, sir. We're at your stop."
The uniformed train attendant woke him, opting to gently rouse the stranger.
"Domo arigato."
She smiled, a shy affair showing a small dimple in her right cheek.
"You're welcome, sir."
Lee rose from the seat and stretched his muscles. He was facing one more transfer then eight hours of sleep. His meeting wasn't for two more days, but he felt the need to be rested. He'd be glad when he could stop moving and call Olga. She'd been acting very odd before he left yesterday. Was it just yesterday? He shook his head realizing his sense of timing had flown out the window after several time zone changes.
The second transfer was quickly accomplished as Lee settled his briefcase next to him. Safely ensconced in his seat on the final leg of his journey, his eyelids began to drift toward his cheeks.
The ring of his cell phone startled him awake.
"Hello? Olga! Good heavens, what time is it there?"
He listened to the voice of his lifemate, feeling tightness in his shoulders disappear. His lips slid into a smile and he stretched his legs before him.
"I know, my love, but just put up with her while I'm gone. She is, after all, the one who promoted you to the council and encouraged them to use your work."
The countryside was giving way to homes. Lee straightened and started checking around his seat for anything he may have left.
"What? Olga? What did you just say?"
The sound must've been distorted by such a long distance.
"Olga? Let me call you back. We're at the final station, and I need to get to my hotel room. I'll be able to hear you better from a landline. Okay?"
He sensed she wasn't thrilled but clicked off his phone knowing she would wait for his call. Lee made his way to the hotel and his room.
Showering away two days of travel, he reveled in the hot water sluicing down his body chasing away the aches and pains of sitting for so long. Over-sized, terrycloth towels specifically set out for him as per his reservation request, warmed and relaxed the remaining weariness from his bones. The urgency to sleep was exerting power over his need to speak to his wife. He shook off the need to sleep. He'd better call Olga or she'd worry unnecessarily.
Once he'd gone through the hotel's phone exchange, he waited on the bed as the phone rang at the other end.
"Hello?"
Finally. "Hi, sweetheart. I couldn't quite hear everything you were saying while I was on the train. Now, what did you want me to know?"
He sat listening to his wife relay the news to him. This changes everything.
"I think we best talk seriously about this when I get home. I'll be here for at least a week following up on a… situation. The outcome here will determine my next assignment. I miss you, Olga."
"I miss you, too, Lee. Be safe. If this has anything to do with the events at the spring meeting, I want you to promise me you'll be especially vigilante."
"I promise, love. I'll call you every day."
Stunned, he crawled beneath the covers depositing the damp towel on the chair next to the bed. Before he thought to turn out the light, his eyes betrayed him and closed.
Lee Svensson was sound asleep, the worries of the coming day temporarily forgotten.




Author bio 



A traveler for most of her life, C. L. Kraemer has settled in the Northwest with her husband and two cats. When not creating a new world or entity, she likes riding next to her husband on their Harleys.


Review

An intriguing shape shifter novel! 5 Stars!


Dragons on Ice is epic in scope-- and its global vision and cinematic presentation will remind readers of a James Bond film. The author works on numerous current modern themes, including the influence of big oil, political manipulation, and the intricacies of marital relationships. Readers will learn a great deal about the classes of shapeshifter dragons which robustly populate the earth, including their history, mating rituals, and birthing practices. Yes, there are many wing-flapping flying scenes and numerous spouts of flame images. The bad guy is a most-villainous creature who pits himself against the decent shape shifters just trying to get along with the "two-leggeds." A fun read combining fantasy and political intrigue!
(Jeffrey Ross)