Tags: location

Snow White

The Princess and the Emerald City

I make reference sometimes to living in “The Emerald City,” and to allay confusion, I figured it would be best to clear this up.

I live in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington DC. (Outside the Beltway, for those familiar to the area.) As much as I would love to hang with Cherie Priest & Kat Richardson, I do not live in Seattle, which was given the nickname “The Emerald City” in 1981 because of its lush evergreen forests.

I refer instead to the Emerald City of Oz, as written by L. Frank Baum in 1900.

Back before I moved, I used to put “Ivory Tower” on a lot of my social networking sites when asked for my location. Fitting for a Princess, right? Only, the Princess destroyed that Ivory Tower and walked away…at which point my location changed to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When you run away, sometimes you don’t want everyone to know where you are right away. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was as good a place as any. And until I settled down, that’s where it stayed.

You know that giant Mormon Temple you can see from 495? There’s an overpass there on which graffiti artists periodically scribe the infamous “SURRENDER DOROTHY,” because those ivory towers (ha) greatly resemble the architecture of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz 1939 film.

I remember driving along 495, seeing those spires, and thinking, “I’m almost home.” Home. It’s a nice thought for someone who’s been traveling for so long. Home. And fitting for a Princess who fled Somewhere Over the Rainbow to settle, n’est-ce pas? And so I refer to my current location, from time to time, as The Emerald City.

Besides — green’s my favorite color.

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

I Have a Library Card!

That’s right — here it is! My very first library card since I was a Children’s Librarian at the Smyrna Public Library in Tennessee 10 years ago. I was sort of giddy when I turned in my application…the Librarian who put in my info thought it was kind of cute. (I hope.)

The Ashburn Public Library a gorgeous library — it’s been there for seven years. There are very high ceilings and lots of natural light, and there is a TON of stuff to do. They have a poetry and story workshop for adults and teens, a Vampire discussion in a few weeks, storytimes every day, and various events around the county. I took a few pamphlets and flyers, and then checked in at the Children’s desk to introduce myself.

It always feels a bit weird and self-serving doing stuff like that, but  (unlike some bookstore employees) most people can tell if you’re honest or if you’re just being a slimeball used car salesman. If you are an author, I encourage you to make yourself known to your local library. Especially if you’re a children’s author, if you have any acting experience whatsoever, or if you like to work with teens. Libraries are always happy to have volunteers on their side, and a published author in their back pocket whom they can call at a moment’s notice is never a bad thing.

In fact, my library was so wonderful and welcoming, I’m adding a corollary to the AlphaOops Scavenger Hunt/Photo Contest. In addition to bookstores, please feel free to visit your local library and ask after AlphaOops: H is for Halloween. If they have it, I’d love a picture of it with the librarian. If they don’t have it, or it’s checked out, the alternate “OOPS” sign applies. You have another week, so get those cameraphones ready!

For the rest of the rules and contest details, click here. Now go visit your library!

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Speed Limit

While I was doing my impromptu pre-summer tour up and down the East Coast and Tennnessee, I was thinking about math. (Yes, I’m a geek even when I’m driving.)

So you’re on an interstate for, say, eight hours (give or take pit-stops for gas). The speed limit on said interstate is 70. (Unless you’re on I-81 along the ass-edge of Virginia where they’re speeding-ticket happy for no good reason, and then it’s 65. But I digress.) So you’re trucking along for the good part of the day, until you hit that last hour of your trip, where your destination is so close you can taste it on the wind.

That last hour is always hell. You suddenly have to pee like your life depends on it, but you’re determined to hold it so you can just GET THERE. You probably should have stopped for gas at that last exit, but your dash swears you have enough to coast into the driveway on fumes. You’re stomach is rumbling like its just eaten a maniac (or his hands). You’re sick of your iPod, your books-on-tape, your mixed CD collection, and there’s nothing but God and jazz and hip-hop on the radio so you’ve started scanning for car commercials.

As if that all wasn’t enough–to make matters worse, the closer you get to your destination, the lower the speed limit becomes. 70 turns to 65. 65 turns to 55. 55 turns to 45…and sometimes less if there’s construction. Once you hit the neighborhood it’s 30, or even 25. 15 if it’s a school zone and classes just let out. You begin to feel like the closer you get to your destination the slower you’ll have to go, until you’re stopped right there in front of your sister’s driveway: you can see the house, but you can’t go in. You will never go in. The Speed Limit won’t let you.

There’s a mathematical concept very much like this dilemma that’s called–appropriately enough–a limit. In layman’s terms, it’s one of those numbers that goes on forever, like 1.99999999999999…etc. 1.99999999 approaches 2, but it never really ever gets there. In some circles, it’s decided that eventually 1.99999999999 gets SO close to 2 that it better be using contraception, so for all intents and purposes, 1.9999999999999 = 2.

I think about this as I slowly walk up the steps to my sister’s house, as x (essentially the number of 9s) becomes infinitely large, and I am thankful to those mathematicians who have decided that my limit is infinity enough to bridge that increasingly small gap and ring the doorbell.

My hat’s off to you, sirs and madams. Safe journeys to you all.

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Snow White

Calling All Junior Arborists

I was going through some old pics to post on my shiny new Facebook Fan Page, and I came across this one. It’s from the tree at Gypsy‘s house, located roughly halfway between Awesome Porch and Awesome Garage, and I love it. Its flowers look and feel like magnolia flowers (apart from being pink), but the leaves are soft and not waxy at all.

What is this tree? Does anyone know?

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.