Eventually we came to the reconstructed houses and the part that interested my husband a lot: the toilets (after all, he’s head of a waste water disposal facility). As we already knew from books, the Romans used toilets with more than one seat and no separations between (see photo). They often met in toilets to talk business. Below the wooden (or sometimes stone) seats, there was running water that took the feces away. The Romans used sticks with a cloth wrapped end that they dipped into the water to clean their private parts.
No one was offended by using a toilet with other people. There were toilets for men and for women but also toilets where men and women went together. As our guide said, toilets were a favorite place for whores to hang around.
Interesting enough, the proverb ‘money does not stink’ (pecunia non olet) does not come from a tax on multi-people toilets as I’d thought. It is ascribed to the Roman emperor Vespasian who put a tax on the distribution of urine from public urinals (the Roman lower classes urinated into amphorae which were emptied into cesspools). The urine collected from public urinals was sold as an ingredient for tanning, for laundry, and for cleaning and whitening woolen togas.
The Romans also knew that waste water for more than a handful of people needed to be taken care of (after all there were ca. 5,000 people living in that town). Therefore, they build a deep, covered canal (the Cloaca Maxima, see photo) with sidearms to every block of houses. Smaller canals came from the individual houses to these sidearms. The water that ran constantly through the toilets flushed the Cloaca Maxima and the feces ended up in the Rhine that took them away.
In some places there were access hatches indicating that there were people who took care that the Cloaca Maxima didn’t get clogged. Imagine the stink in the tight place there (the height of the Cloaca Maxima in Xanthen was barely 1.5 m), and you know how miserable a person had to be (or how high the pay) to take that job. 😀
Clean drinking water did not come from the Rhine (and for very good reasons, imho) but from a spring in the nearby mountains. An aqueduct brought it directly into the city where it was distributed to the houses, to the bath houses, and especially to the toilets. However, for washing and other water-consuming tasks, Romans often used rainwater collected in cisterns. In other towns there were also water supply wells but not here.
After a chaotic week filled with appointments and tight deadlines, I’ve been to the best book fair in the world, a small festival dedicated to Fantasy and SciFi. It’s my favorite. The organizational team is incredible. If I can, I’ll return next year.
However, the day had 20 hours for me including 6 hours car drive. When I returned I was knackered and spend the Sunday resting. Therefore I ask your pardon for not getting the third part of my Roman travels up in time.
Already filled to the brim with interesting facts and marvelous sights, hubby and I traveled onward to Xanthen. The medieval part of that little town is fascinating. It even has two windmills, one directly in the town, the other a bit outside. However, the crowning jewel is the archeological park with the partly reconstructed Roman buildings. Right after entering, there’s a three-dimensional map that shows the reconstructed buildings in dark grey and the areas that still need to be examined in light grey. In the Photo, I colored the Rhine in blue so you can see how close it was to the city. These days. the bank is a lot wider since the river has moved in the last 1500 years.
Xanthen was founded as a Colonia, which means it was a civilian city with a lot of privileges. It was designed by (or more likely the design was approved by) Emperor Traian. It was destroyed around 275 and abandoned. There also was a permanent military fort nearby, but that wasn’t the focus in the museum park.
Naturally the town had everything a Colonia had to have: a Colosseum, temples, bathhouses, houses for living, houses for governing, waste water disposal, fresh water pipelines and so on.
My husband and I were particularly fascinated by the partially reconstructed Colosseum. Look how symmetric the supports were. It was absolutely great to see that the original supports were still partially visible after more than 1500 years when most of the stones from the other buildings had been taken away and used for building the new town in the Middle Ages.
It wasn’t a particularly big Colosseum but there was room enough for all the people in town (roughly 1500 Romans). The sandy arena was big enough to watch wild boar and bear fights as well as Gladiator fights. It was not big enough for horse and cart races.
Although Gladiators were mostly slaves, they were often the center of a lot of admiration. Sometimes they were set free for being really good in the arena. There were strict rules as how the “game” had to be “played” with the armament dictated down to the last buckle. Also, there were rules as to who could fight whom (sorry about the quality of that photo. It was pretty dark where I took it and brightening it up dissolved the descriptions. But you can find more information about gladiators here).
They also had several display dummies arming up as Gladiators. But I think they didn’t proportion them well. Gladiators must have had a lot of muscles because their equipment was pretty heavy AND they were training and fighting on sand (have you ever run on a beach? Then you’ll know how exhausting that is). The average fight lasted only a few minutes, said our guide.
Since the birth of my grandson, I’m having problems to keep my blog up to date. I know you don’t mind (much). However, it’s not only his fault. I couldn’t think of anything beside “buy my books” (naturally you may do that but I don’t want to be reduced to that). So I came up with two themes that have been on my mind recently and decided I’ll post about them.
First, there’s all this cool and weird stuff I do for research. I discover so many interesting facts that it’d be a shame not to share. I’ll start with the Romans, because hubby and I were lucky enough to be able to go on a journey through parts of Germany. During that trip we visited many historical sites with remains from the Romans (you see, immigration happened 2000 ago too). I’l try to post these regularly on Mondays from the beginning of October on (I need to build up a buffer).
Closer to the end of a week, maybe on Fridays, I’ll talk about my path toward a cure or at least a betterment of my Diabetes Type II. In a first step I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing the last three years since diagnosis and what helped. After that, I’ll post a fortnight worth of data collected from a healthy person (I couldn’t find those on the Internet, and hubby graciously agreed to be my guinea pig) and then, I’ll post my progress. Maybe that way I can help people with similar problems.
If there’s still time (or just in between), I’ll point out new releases like my Upper Middle Grade or Lower Young Adult book “Beasthunter”. It can be pre-ordered as an eBook already and will be delivered on October 21.st, the day the paperback will be available on Amazon too.
Here are the blurb and the cover:
To turn his ghostly sister back into a human, twelve-year-old fraidy-cat Tom must fight the Beast, a century old demon stealing kid’s souls.
Tom is afraid of his own shadow. What if it turns into a monster and attacks? Luckily his older sister, Sally, protects him from everything that scares him: classmates, teachers, shadows…
One night during a heavy thunderstorm, a real monster attacks Tom in his very own bed. At the last moment, their new neighbor’s dog saves him from the Beast. But even the Beasthunter and his not so doggish dog can’t stop the creature from turning Sally into a ghost.
Will Tom find the courage to confront the Beast to find out if he can rescue his beloved sister? He has no effective weapons. All he can count on are his ability to see through the Beast’s disguises and the imagination that has given him scares for all his life.
And another one of those… I seem to be too busy in between the bloghops to post much. Pleas forgive me. The latest in a row of catastrophes was the death of my youngest’s pet rat and a second pet rat injured himself when he fell out of the cage. Somehow my days fly past and I don’t get much writing done. Only translations (English-German) are feasible and cover art for some clients.
That’s the reason why my entry today is only the beginning of a story. The rest is still in my head. Enjoy, and don’t forget to visit the other participants too.
Under the Bridge
The water fifty meters below me was black as tar as it flowed toward the sea. This high up in the crisscrossing steel beams of the bridge’s construction, it looked like tarmac. A strong breeze tugged at my breeches, carrying the scent of salt, seaweed, and crustaceans with it. Instinctively my long, flexible toes dug deeper into the steel. It groaned. Together with the thrumming of the passing cars, the sound reminded me of a lazy jazz piece.
I smiled, glad I didn’t have to hide my tusks. As necessary as it was, I was tired of lying about what—who—I was. But down here, there was less light than in the shady bar my human friends and I—naturally in my human disguise—frequented. I enjoyed my true shape.
Hoicking up a considerable amount of snot and spit, I let it fly into the night … never saw or heard it hit the water. I sat and dangled my feet over the gray steel balustrade, marveling at the size of the rivets—also gray and bigger than the palm of my hand. And I did have a big hands all things considered.
It was surprising that humans, these frail creatures, had created something so … so solid. I stroked the metal disregarding a few splinters of rust and paint digging into my green flesh. What’s a little pain if you know you’re doomed no matter what.
Not caring one bit (after all everybody was doomed one way or the other) I spat at the river again. It looked like the road to hell.
And on nights like this it was.
Been there, done than. Only Hell doesn’t do T-Shirts—especially not my size. My low laugh shook the steel beams, but then I shuddered. It hadn’t been the best of times. And now I was waiting for an old … well, you couldn’t exactly call someone from hell a friend, but he’d been the closest to a friend I’d had at that time.
Maybe I’d take him to that shady bar. With his horns and cloven hoof hidden, he’d clean up much nicer as a human than I ever would, and he’d smell nicer. Not of rotting meat and dumpster like I did.
But who cared? I was the one who collected the bridge toll which meant I was the one with enough cash to pay for drinks.
It didn’t matter how good my disguise smelled, only that I had one. What innkeeper in his right mind would let an eight foot troll with a three foot devil in tow into his establishment, even when all customers were lying with their heads in pools of vomit and stinking of alcohol and piss?
Don’t forget to visit the other participants. Enjoy their stories:
I’m sure you’ve heard of GDPR (German DSGVO) that became enforceable law on the 25th of May. This law has been issued to better protect the data of Internet users (like you and me). Unfortunately it went unnoticed for the longest time, and now many site owners are frantically trying to the their sites compliant. I was incredibly annoyed that none of my hosting companies pointed me to that law with enough time to act. After all it’s been around more or less since 2013!
I’ve always been careful to gather as little data as possible. Therefore I’m all in favor aof the GDPR even though adjusting to it was a lot of work. For more than a month I did nothing but change websites (mine and those of friends) to make them compatible with the new law. I was quite amazed (and not pleasantly) where data was transfered without me even knowing (e.g. When showing share-buttons; I knew that data gets transfered when you click, but already while showing? Well, I found a plugin and the trasfer of data before you click a link is no longer possible.). In that regard especially, the new law is good.
I also used the opportunity to clean up behind the scenes. I also added the books I published in the last two year but never got round to add to my website. Now, everything is up to date again.
Soon, I’m going to change my hosting service. Tigertech is incredible when it comes to service, however they don’t issue data usage contracts as required by EU law. Until I can move my pages, they disabled the collection of data completely. This means that no IP-addresses are stored and no other data either. That makes my sites compliant with GDPR but unfortunately it leaves me without statistics about my visitors that I can analyze to improve my web-presence. When I move my sites, there might be some bumps along the road but I don’t expect any major crashes.
And now that everything here is spiffy again and I got used to the chaos in my life, I promise I’ll blog more often again. 😀
Since my grandson arrived, I am lacking time. My household looks like a bomb exploded(with mountains of laundry, but at least the dishes are clean … three cheers for the dishwasher), my stories grow at a snail’s pace, and my Blog and Facebook page are neglected. Then, my middle daughter (my grandson’s mother) had to go into hospital for 2 weeks and soon, my eldest will have to go there for an operation … that means it won’t get better any time soon. I hope you don’t mind. I am working on the next publication, a middle grade monster story. If nothing unexpected happens, I’ll get it done in time for Halloween.
First and most important, do not try to walk through the halls on Saturday (that is a lesson learned during several bookfairs in Leipzig that I visited). On Saturday, everybody and their family will come, so the corridors are stuffed. If you can, Thursday or Sunday are actually the best days to visit.
Leipzig Bookfair is something special. With the addition of the Maga-Comic-Con (with the Cosplayers) and the used-books-fair, it’s also pretty full. However, it’s the best place to actually meet readers. That’s why I come back with the Qindies (Quality Indies) every year for as long as we manage to fund a booth. This year was more successful than any of the years before, and I expect next year to be even better.
Also “Leipzig liest” (Leipzig is reading), the author reading platform of the fair, is a great way to find new readers and fans. Most venues are an absolute pleasure to work with. A car seller decorated his showroom with graves, a hanging skeleton and spooky atmosphere furniture to make our reading an event his customers (and we) are likely to remember.
If you want to go to a German bookfair, Leipzig is the place to go. True, Frankfurt is much bigger but it’s also a lot less personal. I’ll be posting some impressions of the fair in the next days.
And a final thing if you are visiting a bookfair as a vendor (author): Make sure every promo material item does exactly what is is supposed to do. I glitched when I created giveaway cards for an eBook and only discovered after the bookfair that the link I included on the card wasn’t activated. It made me look like an idiot (which I probably am from time to time 😀 )
Naturally we didn’t throw him, that’d be a bad idea. 😀
Niklas is my first ever grandchild, and my daughter didn’t even know she was pregnant (or didn’t want to know). Tuesday morning we went to see a doctor to find out why she’d gained so much weight, and 6 1/2 hours later, my daughter was slender as a young birch and our grandson Niklas greeted us with his screams.
We’re absolutely delighted, turning like mad to get everything we’ll need before the two leave the hospital, and slowly adjusting to the idea of grandparenthood. Of course that does add an additional challenge to my goal of 52 short stories incl. translations, but I won’t give up so easily. We’ll see how it goes. For now, I’ll enjoy having a baby in the house once again.
My year will be extremely busy, and here’s why: I’m planning on writing 52 short stories this year. I know this sounds crazy, but after the scare with my father’s breast cancer I need a fun challenge, and I love writing short stories. I know I’ll probably not be able to write one short story per week, translate it into German, and post it here on my blog, but I pledge to at least try. My goal is to write enough of them to fill 4 or 5 anthologies. Should you have cool ideas for story prompts, you’re welcome to eMail them to me through the contact form on this site. If it’s a good suggestion, I’ll take it.
To give you an impression on the scope of this challenge, let’s dive into a couple of numbers (strangely enough I love numbers nearly as much as words). A good sized crime novel has between 50 and 75 thousand words, an epic fantasy between 100 and 250 thousand. If I assume an average short story length of 3,000 words, I’m facing 156,000 words plus the same in translations plus the ca. 100K words I need to finish the novella I’m currently writing, the ending of Scotland’s guardians part 2, and another installment of my fairy tale novellas. That makes 412,000 words in total for 2017 (not to forget the publications that need to be done).
Now let’s have a look at my stats from last year: I managed to write and translate a total of 304,574 words. Had I been writing every single day (even on weekends and holidays) that would have been a mere 835 words per day. Taking off weekends and the times my children were not in school, I think I wrote more than twice that amount per day. To make my goal in 2017, I’ll have to write 2,200 words per day. I call that a real challenge, and I won’t bereave myself should I fail. However, my ambition is to make it through the year reaching all my goals.
Wish me luck (and enough writing time)! I will start posting on January 26 when it’s time for the next Story Time Bloghop.
P.S.: If you want to read more than the beginning (the first 100-250 words) of the short stories I manage to write, you will have to be fast (the full version will be available for a few days after posting only) or wait for 2018 when I’ll publish them all in bundles of 5-6 stories.