Duncan Targaryen’s wife has hair as black as his own, but her eyes are bright, deep blue, the colour of a still sea before a storm. Her name is Almena, an old name, some say the name of Argella Durrandon’s mother, and Duncan thinks he could love her, if not for Jenny.

Father refused him Jenny, of course. She was a peasant, slandered by some as a whore who had seduced a prince in hopes of a crown, but Duncan had never thought of her as anything but the sweetest girl he had ever known. He had wed her for the goodness in her, for the gentleness of her hard-worked hands, and had wept bitter tears to see those most beloved hands sign away their marriage on the King’s orders.

Almena Baratheon is the daughter of a high lord, a Lord Paramount, and as fine a noblewoman as there is in Westeros and a good woman besides, but Duncan cannot imagine her with dragonflies dancing around her flower-braided hair, and that breaks his heart.

Almena’s storming eyes are shadowed when he names their daughter Jaehaera and slips a soft-stemmed strand of baby’s breath behind her round little ear, but his shame cannot overwhelm the sense of rightness that settles in his heart just as the weight of the babe settles on his chest.

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If you’re looking for an educational introduction to cheesemaking, Vermont Tech is now offering an “Essential Principals and Practices of Cheesemaking” class that is definitely worth checking out. It’s taught by Dr Montse Almena, who was one of my instructors at UVM’s VIAC program and is definitely someone who knows cheesemaking, from the fundamentals to the chemistry to sensory evaluation and much more. Via the VT Tech site:  

Essential Principles and Practices of Cheesemaking
Event Start: Jul 9, 2014 - 08:30 AM
Event End: Jul 13, 2014 - 04:30 PM

Where: Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center, VT

The Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Technical College (VTC) is hosting a practical and comprehensive guide in cheese technology and the principles governing the quality of cheese in a five day intensive course. During this course, participants will learn the fundamentals of cheesemaking, quality control practices, and useful considerations in starting a small scale cheesemaking business. The course will be led by international cheese technologist and former instructor/program developer of VIAC programs Dr. Montserrat Almena-Aliste and is structured in three main sections. The first section focuses on the chemistry of milk and the different aspects defining the quality of cheesemaking milk. The second part describes the principles of cheesemaking, the different families of cheese, and also includes comprehensive hands-on demonstrations in making three different cheese styles: a fresh acid-coagulated, a bloomy rind variety, and a semi-hard cheese. Finally, the last section of the program focuses on how to monitor and control the fundamental factors driving the quality of the product. All the cheesemaking exercises will be performed by award winner master cheesemaker Brian Schlatter and will be hosted at the facilities of Neighborly Farms, an organic Vermont farm producing award winning cheeses. At the end of the program students will also have the opportunity to get a private tour of Neighborly Farms and learn what the main challenges and rewards of being a farmer and a cheesemaker are from owner and cheesemaker Linda Dimmick.

Please note that this course can be taken for academic credit for an additional $100.00 (this is a one credit course). Registration fee includes a comprehensive course manual, breakfast, lunch, and refreshment breaks for all days of the course. Optional lodging at the college is also available at a very competitive price. If you are interested in staying at the college please contact Melissa Neilson at or call 802.728.1677. To register for the course please visit

I Don't Want To Hurt You
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“I don’t want to hurt you.” I mumbled. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself.” He whispered back.


“So, Almena… where are you from?” I looked over to Mike, after having been introduced once more so I could remember everyone’s name, and shrugged. “All over, I guess. I was born in Boston, lived in…

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