Alice’s Restaurant

May 17, 2007

Xunantunich I

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:36 am

 A Good view of the complex

Back to Belize.  As long as we were in the neighborhood, we dropped by a Mayan ruin.  This one is called Xunantunich.  The owner of Banana Bank Lodge told us to pronounce it like Shoe-not-to-itch.  Last time I posted a bunch of pictures caused all kinds of loading problems for people, so I’m going to break it up into parts.

To get there you have to take the ferry.  This is not your large, multi-vehicle carrier you might find up around Seattle.  This is a little hand-cranked job.

Crossing the river 
The first actual ruin you see after leaving the parking lot is a little trading center built into the hill.  The complex is on the other side.

 The Market
We were told everything was quarried limestone originally, including a completely covered over courtyard which looked like a lovely park by the time we got there. Then everything was painted white.  This fits much more closely my original impression of Mayan Pyramids.  We can only surmise that people have removed much of the original limestone over the years to be used in other construction projects.

May 16, 2007


Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:34 am

As I mentioned over on my goals thread on FF, I go under the knife on May 30th.  It’s supposed to be laproscopy and hopefully outpatient, but if the tumor turns out to be cancer I may have to stay in the hospital for a while.

I have no idea how much this will affect my blog.  As I promised over on FF, I will keep Suzie updated, even maybe working ahead a bit to be sure it’s covered, though it might not go up until kind of late the Friday following surgery, particularly if I have to talk Mr. Al through the posting process.

Mr. Al is working feaverishly to provide me with extra Tudor episodes to be posted next week and the week following.  I might have to miss a day or two here and there, particularly right after the 30th.

I still have a bit to say about Belize, but it’s winding down, and I’ll always have way too much to say about writing.

Bear with me.  I’m sure this is only a little blip in my life.


May 15, 2007

What Katherine Wanted

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 1:12 am

As promised, we continue with Mr. Al’s history of the Tudors.


What Katherine wanted was a clear statement from the Pope that she was Henry’s lawful wife! She wanted it publicly acknowledged that she was the rightful Queen of England! Why was His Holiness being such a weenie about it? If Henry wouldn’t abide by the Pope’s decision, well, there was nothing she could do about that. At least the world would know that Henry’s actions were just plain WRONG!

What Charles wanted was for his aunt to be a little, teensy-bit more accommodating. Her stubbornness was beginning to get on his nerves. Clement had already promised her that she would be forgiven if she caved to Henry’s demand that she accept, and become part of, this new Church of England plan he had brewing. Henry even threw a sweetener into the deal by promising to restore Mary to the line of succession without demanding that she convert.

That was all Charles and Clement needed to hear. They had, at that point, pretty much given up on Katherine ever being restored. If the Catholic Church had any future in England, Princess Mary would be the person to bring it about. Katherine said “NO!” to all of it. If the princes of this world were against her, the Prince of Peace was not. All she could do was wait. And pray. And while she waited and prayed, things went from bad to worse.

In March 1533 Henry sent Anne’s brother, Lord Rochford, on a secret mission to France. He returned the first week of April. Mission Accomplished! Henry summoned the Privy Council and publicly announced that he had married Anne Boleyn two months previously. Oh, and Anne was pregnant with the heir to the throne. That was that. Katherine was out, Anne was in. Katherine was ordered to cease and desist from referring to herself as Queen of England. Henceforth, she would be known as the Princess Dowager of Wales.

What Lord Rochford had been sent to France for was to secure, in writing, what had previously been King Francis’s verbal commitment to support Henry’s marriage plans. With the written agreement in hand, Henry had done an end-run around Charles, preventing him from pulling France into an alliance against England.


 It worked. With King Francis on his side, Henry didn’t have to worry about France being used as a springboard for an invasion from the Empire. And Pope Clement? As far as Henry was concerned, that girlie-boy could sit on his crosier and spin on it. Henry had big, BIG plans for the church and Clement couldn’t do a thing to stop him.

In March of 1534, Clement finally gave his judgment. He declared the marriage of Katherine and Henry valid and legally binding. Henry was ordered to put aside Anne and resume co-habitating with Katherine, toot-sweet. Talk about closing the barn door after the cows have escaped. For seven years, people great and small had waited for the Pope to make that judgment. For Katherine, those years were emotional, and increasingly, physical misery as Henry moved her from one dilapidated castle to another.

 Needless to say, the Pope’s judgment changed nothing. Anne was Queen, She had given birth to a healthy baby girl and the royal couple had hopes that a boy was right around the corner. Many considered it God’s judgment upon Henry that Anne would never have another child that survived birth.  

Unfortunately for Anne, Henry started seeing it that way too.


And you all know who that baby girl was, don’t you.


May 12, 2007

Anchors – Part II

Filed under: Writing Technique — aliceaudrey @ 11:36 pm

Each of the examples in the previous post comes from the beginning of their respective books.

Notice that in Exhibit 1 we not only visualize the tarmac of a parking lot, we see it as cold and slushy from a warm winter or early spring day.  We see high-end cars, and some sort of sports-oriented type building even though she didn’t specifically tell us to fill the parking lot or mention brick.

When we get into the building, we are going to throw in all sorts of sports-oriented details in our minds without being told to do so.  Simply having been told we are in Chicago means few of us will add red-rock sandstone or a Yule log in our minds. 

I seriously doubt anyone here is going to imagine the smell of sweaty sox while reading Exhibit 2.  Does anyone beside me see ladies in elegant gowns and gentlemen of an alpha persuasion leaning toward one another and whispering?  In all the rest of the scene my mind will provide a slight chill from cold seeping through the stones of a grand old building against the warmth of fireplaces.  If you’ve read any of the other Rothgar books, you’ll have an even stronger vision of the setting and the people in it while reading this one.

Exhibit 3 actually went on a bit long for my tastes, but by the time we get to three people huddled against the wind, we know we are in that strange combination of time-warn land and modern American society that is the Navajo reservation.  What’s more, the description dumped us right into the people who would be of significance to this story – two murder victims and a witness.  When we get to the blood, we see it against the red of the stone even though the point of view character is blind.

You’ll noticed I included a lot more of Exhibit 4 than of any of the others.  That’s because it’s Science Fiction.  In Science Fiction the challenge to paint a vivid image is stronger because the reader can’t necessarily rule out things like sweaty sox, red sandstone, or the yule log just because there is a red sun or Darkovan clothing.  Mind you, this example could have used a few more anchors earlier on.  But, considering the author has to lay out not only what the physical world is like, but also cultural aspects while still providing a conflict quickly, it’s not surprising the anchors are spread out a bit more.

In case anyone is still wondering what an anchor is, let’s go through Exhibit 4 in more detail.

In the first sentence we learn the character we are going to pay closest attention to in the scene is female, a messenger though maybe or maybe not actually carrying a message at the time, dressed locally, and walking through an older neighborhood at night.  In the second sentence we learn that she will be our Point of View character – when she “reminded herself” of a cultural phenomenon.  We now have part of who, and part of where.

The second paragraph gives us a little more of the where, mentioning the marketplace.

The third paragraph gives us a lot more of the where, pinning a point in the universe, while at the same time indicating this is from the class of Science Fiction occasionally called a Space Opera.  We can expect faster than light travel because there is an empire and space workers.  We know she’s walking through red sunlight, and that there may be high technology, but with a vendors who close shutters and scrape kettles, we aren’t talking Star Trek here.  Particularly telling is that a metal lock should stand out as a sign of prosperity.  You can be sure there aren’t a lot of forcefield around.

What kind of details would I add?  How about some indication of what a Darkovan woman’s clothing looks like?  No doubt it was mentioned in a previous Darkover book, but I haven’t read any of them, so I don’t carry the imagery from them to this one.  The crunch or clatter of whatever she’s walking on would help, and I’d love to have a name for her.  But even without those details, the world created here is vivid enough to interest me, which is what Anchors do.

As to where each of these examples comes from, check it out:
Exhibit 1 is page 1 of This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Exhibit 2 is page 1 of A Most Unsuitable Man by Jo Beverley
Exhibit 3 is page 1 of Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman
Exhibit 4 is  from page 5 of City of Sorcery by marion Zimmer Bradley


Anchors Part I

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft — aliceaudrey @ 9:51 am

This post has been moved to: Anchors Part I

May 10, 2007

Kid Quote

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:43 am

Overheard from the boy playing Warcraft on the computer:

“You idiot!  Do what I tell you to do!”

Even in games we can’t always be the masters of our universe.

May 8, 2007

The Tudors – Henry and Anne Get It On.

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 10:53 pm

Just so you know, I’m the one who comes up with the cheesy titles.  Mr. Al never thinks to give me one.  Anyway, when we left off Henry was about to discover something about his virginal queen-to-be not entirely to his liking.

It turned out, or so Henry later claimed, that Anne had been “corrupted” while in France. That she had had sexual experiences that left her, technically, still a virgin. He did not elaborate on what the experiences had been. The king found this most disturbing after all the protestations on Anne’s part that she had keep herself pure for Henry’s sake. Hard to imagine what a woman like Anne could have possibly done that would constitute sexual contact, while leaving her virginity intact. Hmmmmmm.

But no matter, If Henry had any doubts at that time he didn’t let them get in the way of his fun. He was getting what he wanted from the woman he wanted. It took a few months, but eventually Anne was pregnant. Henry just knew it was going to be a boy and shifted all his plans into high gear. On January 25 1533, Henry and Anne were married at Whitehall palace. It was a secret ceremony, immediate family only. All involved were sworn to secrecy. This didn’t prevent Henry from dropping broad hints while he was in his cups at a banquet a few weeks later. Henry’s drunken ranting weren’t the same as an official announcement, however. But it was just the sort of thing that spread faster than an official announcement.

No doubt word reached Katherine. Whither she believed it or would hardly have mattered. Henry was on a campaign to make Katherine’s life a living hell. He was succeeding. Having God and the people on her side was small conciliation after Henry took Princess Mary away from her. News from Rome was bad. The Pope was behind her 100 percent. Way, way behind her. At the moment Clement and Charles were pax because Charles needed Clement’s support against the Turks, who were on the Empires eastern borders. Clement threatened Henry with excommunication. Again. Henry told him to piss off. Again. Clement said he REALLY meant it this time! Henry’s reply? “Yeah? Whatever.” Or words to that effect.

By the time Henry and Anne were married, Henry had already decided to break with Rome. Clement didn’t know this, of course. He hoped against hope that such a catastrophe could be avoided. He really had no idea that his spineless waffling was one of the things that set Henry on his course. In February of 1533 Clement told Charles that Katherine’s case would be heard in Rome and Rome only. This time he would settle Henry’s hash once and for all, By God! He neglected to set a date for this big showdown. Not that it mattered to Henry. He had no intention of going to Rome. Physically place himself in the Emperors backyard? Not bloody likely.

 Charles was too preoccupied to do much. Invading England on Katherine’s behalf was something he had once been serious about. A number of things held him back now. One, a sea-borne invasion would be a huge undertaking. The logistics were daunting; assembling the ships, the horses and men, the equipment, the provisions, a staggering task. And the expense! It had been possible earlier, but all that manpower sequestered in the west while Johnny Turk was romping through the Balkans? The turbaned bastards wanted to sack Vienna! No, the timing just wasn’t right! The other thing was, as previously mentioned, Katherine herself. She was quickly becoming her own worse enemy.


Mr. Al has already given me the next Tudor installment.  It’s good, but I’m not going to tell you anything about it until Next Tuesday.  Then hopefully we will do a Tudor Tuesday until he’s covered the last of Henry’s queens.  I know it’s nothing to rival Tessa’s TMI Tuesday, but well worth swinging by anyway.


Challenge 3 Round 4 Winner

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 10:24 pm

Is Captive Nightmare.  If your story was in the top 5, please come and claim your entry.


Travel in the Post-Nine Eleven Era

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:44 am

Although I’ve been flying since I was a little kid, I haven’t been in the air since 911.  I had heard so much about how much harder it was to get through security that I was quite concerned.  Perhaps it was the time of day we flew, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.

The set up was a little different from I remembered, but not bad.  We started off in the line for the courtesy desk to check in.  But unlike when I was a kid, they didn’t take our bags, merely affixed tags and gave us boarding passes.  We then went through a line that had a machine that looked a lot like a CAT scan machine.  The ticket line was of normal length.  It took us a little less than half an hour to get through.  The CAT scan thing was even shorter.  We then went to the security screen in front of the concourse.

From what I’d heard this could be a nightmare.  I’ve seen the pictures online of women being touched way too personally and heard about having to take your shoes off and how all kinds of things were being confiscated.  The number of turnings in the roped off line were daunting, but only about a quarter of the way had people.  Of course it was between 4 am and 5 am at the time.

We were prepared, having not brought anything objectionable, and breezed through.  Except my mother who they took to the side and ran a wand over to confirm the metal detector had indeed only picked up her new artificial hip, which we were expecting.

While we were waiting for our first plane we my sister and I went hunting for breakfast, specifically looking for cinnamon rolls.  I swear there were nearly as many guards as passengers in the concourse.  The one I found most interesting was the one on a bicycle.  He peddled past us several times.

We had a two and a half hour layover in the Dallas airport.  That was a bit long for two hyper kids.  They filled most of the time by riding up and down on the escalators.  Then we took the train for the entire loop.  That was fun, except none of us remembered to bring a camera.  Oh well, I thought.  We could get pictures on the way back.

In Belize the customs agents sat behind tall desks and literally rubber-stamped our paperwork in a matter of minutes.  No computers anywhere, but very little hassle.  They didn’t bother to look in our luggage.

The way back was another matter.  We only had an hour layover and in that hour had to collect our luggage, get through USA customs, pass through security again, and change gates. 

The plane landed on time, or we wouldn’t have had a chance.  I made sure we were among the first in our section to get off the plane.  Yes, bulldozer Alice at work.  The lines everywhere along the way moved fairly quickly, though the pilots and stewardesses kept butting in ahead of us.  However, with the time pressure I didn’t have a chance to transfer some of the stuff from my carry on to my suitcase.

The guy who took the last couple of ounces of my sunscreen looked so gleeful when he pointed at the label at the bottom of the container.  It doesn’t matter how much is actually in the container, only how much COULD be in it.  I know why they do it that way, but it’s nothing to crow about.  They took my applesauce, but left my Del Monty fruit cup.  Considering how unnatural those fruit cups look, you’d think they’d be far more suspect.  Now I have a lone fruit cup sitting in my refrigerator that I doubt anyone will ever eat because none of us felt like eating it on the plane.

They took my water bottle in the airport in Belize, but it’s easy to buy more both on the planes and in the airports.

We couldn’t get a cart because they said it would be too slow.  There’s my mother running through the concourse with a cane.  I had no idea she could move so fast so soon after surgery.  We took the train.  It was too dark out to take pictures and we were all too anxious about getting off at the right stop anyway.

They were already loading the plane when we got there.  Only a handful of people were still in line ahead of us, but about a dozen people got on the plane after we sat down.  It was very close, but we all made it, and didn’t even lose any luggage.

There was one other change from what I remember from before.  Airlines no longer serve those trays of food for lunch or dinner, let alone for free.  What they offered was pathetically small and way over priced.  For instance $4 for a bagel with cheese and ham.  Bring your own.  Just don’t include any applesauce.


May 6, 2007

The Maya Breeze Inn

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:10 am


May Breeze Beach is on the peninsula leading to Placencia.  It’s a little community of half a dozen resorts stretched out over a couple of miles.  Except for right in front of the Maya Breeze Inn itself, it’s dirt road.  In front of the Inn, it’s packed gravel.  I suspected each segment of the road is paid for by the people fronting it.  Although there was a heck of a lot of construction going on all up and down the peninsula, don’t expect the road to be paved the whole way any time soon.

White sand, palm trees, ocean breezes, the place is paradise.  We had both a “cabin”

And a room in the hotel.

Maya Breeze Inn fronting the road

The view from our room
Besides a nice stretch of beach, which we spent many hours on, they offered the free use of their sea kayaks.

You think I'm going to show me in one?  Fugetaboutit 

Isn't their storage system cool?Once more, from the side
They said if we wanted to kayak out to a caye visible from the beach you could go snorkeling, but we never made it that far.  Not with so many hammocks hanging around.

They helped us book the snorkeling trip, and the trip up the Monkey River.  They had a dry erase board up in the office that offered different excursions for each day of the week and would set up whatever you wanted.  They even set up an intimate dinner for two on their dock, which we watched with interest.  😀

The dock.  Can you see the table and chairs? 
We had a kitchenette complete with hot plate, toaster, mini-frig, and sink, but only cooked for ourselves a couple of times.  There is a restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, but they only served breakfast.  Almost every resort on the peninsula had a restaurant, so we spent a lot of time roaming around checking out May Breeze’s competition.  There are a lot of very nice places along the peninsula, but I think we got the best.


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