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1) One thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that, although I in fact have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a fair amount, I spent the late winter being more drawn to another Alexander, von Humboldt. I read The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, which is both a biography of Humboldt and a review of his huge scientific and cultural influence. (Actually, I listened to most of it, because it was out at the library and we had an Audible credit - not my favorite choice for this book, since I so often wanted to flip pages back and check on things. Read about the last fifth when the library hold came in. Will probably acquire it in paperback later.) Humboldt was an enormous figure in the 19th and long after his death into the early 20th century - internationally famous, hundreds of things named after him - and has practically vanished from our literacy now, mostly because he was a science generalist promoting broad-based theories, and the scientists of today are all specialists who seldom venture out of their chosen fields, whereas the general public shies away from both science and history, but also because at the time of WWI a lot of German historical figures got erased from American and English curriculums (and street and building names).

I had heard of Humboldt, because I read a fair amount of history of botany and he turns up there, and also because he figures peripherally in the Aubrey/Maturin books, but I had no idea of his importance in formulating some of the concepts that spurred theories of natural selection, evolution, climate change, etc., not to mention a lot of Romantic literature. He had a fascinating life and was a compelling person - so, book recommended! And I don't know if Humboldt would make a good musical, but should you want to write RPF about him, apparently he wouldn't have minded being slashed. (In case that makes you more inclined to read the book. I don't think it should.)

2) Have been spending too much time re-watching West Wing episodes, probably just as an antidote to Scandal (not to mention Real Life OMG), but I could use the excuse that I suddenly realized it's 2176 in the book I'm writing and there needs to be a presidential campaign. (Rose is at the end of her second term, so it's open.)
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We went to see "The Force Awakens" yesterday, and I also finished reading Ancillary Mercy, which is probably a very interesting coincidence that I will not explore in detail. The latter I enjoyed the most of the trilogy, probably because I had a clue what was going on understood the ins-and-outs of the universe from the beginning and was able to jump right in and ride. It's a nice trip, and I got a deeper sense of the characters this time, and a sense of the time depth of the world - which I think is important to getting how things have been for a good long while and how they are changing. Also, I would like to see Ann Leckie write straight-up comedy.

The Star Wars movie I had a great time with, and on the whole really liked, and then we came home and dissected it into tiny pieces, so I don't have to do that again here, but if anyone cares to discuss in the comments I'll put a few talking points behind a cut.

spoilers of course )

There was an interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post yesterday about how [spoiler] is totally our fault because we can't stick our endings any more in today's genre world (link is, since they oddly haven't updated it, to an older version of the piece where the writer hadn't seen the film yet and didn't know for sure that [spoiler] would happen, but it says essentially the same thing). I do agree that one can get tired of franchises, but I'm not tired of this one yet, and I think that [spoiler] may have been exactly the right thing to happen, and then I read this in Ancillary Mercy:

Entertainments nearly always end with triumph or disaster--happiness achieved, or total, tragic defeat precluding any hope of it. But there is always more after the ending--always the next morning and the next, always changes, losses and gains. Always one step after the other. Until the one true ending that none of us can escape. But even that ending is only a small one, large as it looms for us. There is still the next morning for everyone else. For the vast majority of the rest of the universe, that ending might as well not ever have happened. Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.

Which I entirely agree with, while still appreciating the climactic boom.

We saw the film at the iPic, which offers (for a steep ticket price) reclining comfy seats, free popcorn, and waiter service for food and drinks including alcoholic ones - I had a mocha martini, which is not a martini at all of course but was yummy - which was a great experience for this particular film, not eclipsing my first viewing of "The Empire Strikes Back" at a huge movie palace in Boston, with a thousand other people for whom "I am your father" was a total shock, but creating its own memory. Probably the only time we'll go there (if we go back, I hope they'll have fixed the huge lines for parking ticket validation and put enough toilet paper in the women's room) but I'm glad we tried it.
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My, I have not updated here in a long while.

I think it's just been one of those periods where I'm not feeling particularly fannish, at least not about what everyone else is crying up as new and exciting (for example, I have not yet listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack, and yes, I know. And I will. I suspect perhaps I'm holding back because a) I'm worried I might possibly not like it and then would feel an incurable fuddy-duddy, b) I am a little bit hmph-y just because of this sudden rash of accompanying enthusiasm for a period of history that I have been saying "hey. Hey, look" about for a good while now, impressive in a slightly boring eighteenth-century way, y'know, and no one listens. Though Alexander Hamilton is not my field of expertise by any means. Anyway, I digress). I've also been sick on and off, and a touch depressed here and there, though nothing to worry about. But yeah - not been on Tumblr in ages, and my Facebook use has gone up, and until yesterday my biggest recent media enthusiasm was "The Great British Baking Show," and while that was great fun it was not traditional narrative.

However, I did get inspired enough by my latest Netflix binge to come on here and recommend it (if a touch hedged with reservations) - if you're looking for something engrossingly narrative, you can do worse than "River." It is yet another British police procedural, and yet. It's both original and extremely trope-full, if not derivative exactly. At any rate, it does remind me of lots of other things - most strongly of "Luther," "Hannibal," "Scott and Bailey," "Broadchurch," and any number of other intense detective dramas, and also of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge books. DI John River is played - very well - by Stellan Skarsgard, as yet another troubled (if not downright insane) but gifted investigator; it also stars Nicola Walker (last seen by me in "Scott and Bailey," as a (at least superficially) rather different character), here spookily charming and subtly developed (and I won't ruin the Big Reveal in the opening scene by saying more, because it is spot-on terrific). And it contains the Pragmatic/Human-Relief Ethnic Sidekick, the Tough But Fragile Female DCI, the Resentful Big Boss, the Gentle Romance-Teasing Psychologist, and the Irish Crime Family. But it's also got great acting and fascinating manifestations of dead people only River can see, and some interesting psychology, and a diverse cast (with some good thoughts about immigrants and loneliness), and it kept me enthralled. And I dare you to watch it without getting That Song stuck in your head. Six hour-long episodes - not too big a commitment!

Aside from that:

- Got through Thanksgiving (cooked for seven, came down with a cold afterwards).
- Did not embark on a Vorkosigan read-through, though I did reread Brothers in Arms to remind myself of what plot is.
- Have read much in a miscellaneous fashion since, but didn't keep track. Currently on Louise Penny's latest (which is, as always, sublime, even if I don't quite believe in someone building an enormous Armageddon device in the woods outside the village of Three Pines). Before I made it to the library I was pulling Nevil Shutes off the shelf, to modest enjoyment and the excuse that they are something Charles would like and I should be getting into his head. ETA: Also reread The Once and Future King and The Mists of Avalon back to back, I have no idea why, but it was a fascinating experience.
- Have caught up with "Doctor Who" and am generally liking the season except when I think they're being completely nuts, which is par for the course really. "Heaven Sent" was brilliant in the way that says "hey, look, we're being brilliant," but I do appreciate watching Peter Capaldi go for it. I want to say something about fabric stiffness after water immersion, but am unable to do so without proper spoiler cuts, which I'm too lazy to create.
- Have done much furniture rearrangement and sorting of Stuff. Not nearly finished.
- Oh, we also have been watching "The Knick," which I describe as "House"-in-1900 - gifted but troubled and drug-addicted Dr. Thackery is, however, balanced by other more interesting characters, and if the plot arcs are a trifle obvious and the blood a bit excessive, it made frosting and pastry layers even more refreshing by comparison. But I think overall I prefer detective tropes to doctor tropes.
- No writing progress; editing on NTF complete (I think) and I am taking a break before the publishing slog commences.

I'll pop in with more updates as I think of them.
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We did have an interval of really lovely weather last week, timed for my birthday, so I went for a 7-mile hike on our local little mountain - the second of that length and type in a week, since we'd done Maryland Heights at Harper's Ferry five days before. (These are seriously little mountains, so to make it 7 miles one has to go back the long way after climbing to the summit, or in the Harper's Ferry case, walk into town for ice cream afterwards.) In between we had a weekend in Staunton, VA, saw two plays (Antony and Cleopatra and The Winter's Tale) at the American Shakespeare Center, ate some good food, and visited Polyface Farm for a tour by Joel Salatin himself. So that was nice. Today I went out early to water at the community garden (just trying to keep my fall greens alive now - it hasn't rained in about a month) and am not intending to spend much time outside otherwise. We may possibly get a thunderstorm and some cooler weather on Friday. (By cooler I mean lower than the 90s.) Summer can be done anytime.

My birthday was last Wednesday, and happily grand jury was canceled, hence the hike. It's also canceled today, and I am already excused for the next three weeks, so who knows when I'll get back there. Probably it will become more regular as summer vacations (of lawyers, not criminals) fade into the background.

I am excused because I'm traveling! (Well, next week because I have a meeting, but then travel.) I will be going on a Big Midwest Adventure, ending up at a conference on the Iowa/Nebraska border, and on the way visiting [livejournal.com profile] penwiper26 - can't believe we will finally meet in person after being friends for so many years!! My intent is to tweet the Adventure, which hopefully I'll live up to. I am @ericahsmith if you want to follow me (normally I do not post much, but really I will try).

Perhaps some writing will get done on the trek, but for the moment I have accepted that it's just not happening for me, and I'm doing final edits on Not Time's Fool instead. I need to write some blog posts, too - have one sort of planned on hurting one's characters, which I started thinking about during the whole cellulitis thing.

Still reading a fair amount. I've had a whiplash-y experience with Morag Joss, who wrote a nice three-book mystery series in the oughts and then dropped it for Rendell-ish psychological thrillers, which (I have read two) are very good but also thoroughly depressing. And I am having a hard time forgiving her for leaving her cellist-detective Sara Selkirk hanging in a difficult personal position - I mean, I'm usually all for authors writing what they want to write and not pandering to my personal taste (as if they should know it), but I really hope she goes back someday to tell us what happens.

The series/trilogy/exercise-in-frustration was reminding me (not because of the left-hanging bit, but because of the character relationships) of Julia Spencer-Fleming's mysteries - cellist instead of Episcopalian priest, Bath instead of upstate New York, but both of them fall for a married police detective, and both have that tendency to leap without looking into danger and detection. It's made me think about what some of you out there call a "competence kink" - I don't think I have that, exactly, but I do like characters who are good at what they do. The question becomes, though, do they have to be good at other things? and what are those things? - does a world-class cellist fail at competence because she sometimes has to be rescued from her ill-thought attempts at cornering criminals, or a caring priest who also pilots helicopters because she doesn't meditate first before driving into danger? For me, it seems to come down to psychological plausibility and consistency, so if someone is established as having impulsive reactions in certain areas or on certain triggers, it doesn't bother me if they act on those reactions even if the actions are a bit stupid. That said, stupid characters will get on my nerves after a while, and so will Mary Sue-like levels of competence. Sara Selkirk does flirt with both those things, so perhaps one more book to resolve the personal crisis would do me, really.

Having a total TV vacation aside from occasional dips into Leverage. The question is, will I keep watching Sleepy Hollow this fall or not? Haven't decided. Should also note for those who have been considering watching that Person of Interest seasons 1-3 is now available on Netflix.

Best wishes to all!
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So it was Three Weeks of Cellulitis, in the end, but I'm better now. Hurray for finding the right antibiotic! My primary care doctor was making noises about MRSA, but I just don't see how I have any of the risk factors, so I'm going with "nobody ever cultured it, so we will never know."

I also did get through (as of yesterday) all of the Amelia Peabody books, some of which I actually hadn't read before. I think perhaps I gave up initially somewhere around He Shall Thunder in the Sky and the emotional storm leading up to it, and didn't in fact get back to the series even though I thought I had. Glad to have come back and finished. Say what you will about Elizabeth Peters (and I could say a little about the editing in some of the later books) but she really knew how to write, and how to laugh at the right parts of what she was writing and take the right parts seriously, and I will always love her for that.

Also, it occurred to me partway through that this series is kind of the major key version of the Vorkosigan books, at least in the sense of a central family who pulls in many and varied characters to become part of their circle, viewed over a generation of time. Clearly this is something I like. And, because I enjoy exploring the intersection of writing and reading, I will admit to noticing how the Charles/Beatrice/Wilfrid triangle has similarities to Emerson/Amelia/Sethos, though at least I went a different direction with the unexpected familial relationships.

Aside from that my life is mostly tomatoes and Swiss chard at the moment.
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Just a quick update before I run off to Annapolis for ferns class. Yes, this is my life.

- Grand jury duty started yesterday, and yes, I am on the panel (despite being #44 out of 23; apparently the "nearly impossible to get out of grand jury duty" thing is not enormously accurate). Won't be talking much about it here because it is Secret, but I'm... kind of looking forward to it? Aside from the driving to Greenbelt every Wednesday and spending the day in a windowless room with criminals and law enforcement personnel part.

- Tangentially, I have discovered yet again about myself that what really makes me grumpy is not knowing what's going to happen (in specific instances, I mean, not in the general sense of an unpredictable existence). I was in a horrible mood Tuesday because of the uncertainty - will I have to go at all? Will I be chosen if I do? - and as soon as I realized on Wednesday morning (when I got named early in the roll call) that I'd certainly be empaneled, I was fine.

- I've had a chance to read a lot of books recently, which is great! I go through periods of not reading much, and then have little reading orgies, and realize how much I miss it. The latest list I guess began with a reread of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (in anticipation of the TV series, which we are much enjoying), and then I dived into a mix of new and finally-getting-to-it: Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell), Among Others (Jo Walton), The Accidental Apprentice (Vikas Swarup), Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword (Ann Leckie), Penric's Demon (Lois Bujold), and Uprooted (Naomi Novik). All of which I enjoyed, to varying degrees. I'm currently nearly done with Mary Doria Russell's Children of God and have started Octavia Butler's Kindred (an interesting pairing of books, especially considering my current research interests).

- Not much TV lately aside from "Jonathan Strange" and "Leverage," though I did plunge through a rewatch of "Slings and Arrows" after finding out via Tumblr that the first two seasons are available on Hulu. (We own the DVDs, but the first one has been out on loan for several years to one of P's friends, and all my nudgings have not resulted in a request for return. Of course I'm just as bad, since one of my friends has Curse of Chalion in a pile somewhere (since about 2009) and I keep forgetting to ask for it back - she being one of those people who Does Not Read SFF. (She has bought at least the first of my books, which is nice, but I bet she hasn't cracked it.)) Anyway, S&A is just as delightful as always, possibly my favorite TV show ever - and hey, all of you who have not seen it, get thee to Hulu.

Okay, need to get ready to get on the road. More sooner, I hope.
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Quick TV catch-up:

Sleepy Hollow: Almost like Katrina after last night's episode. Almost. Also, nice to see Frank again? I hope?

Castle: Back to form and they managed to find a new twist to keep things running a little longer. (Based on last week; haven't seen this week's yet.)

The Good Wife: And the Chicago canyons echo again with the refrain, "Kalinda, what the hell, no!" Also, I love episodes that require "we didn't know this would be in the news" disclaimers.

Elementary: Introducing new main characters and giving them storylines of their own is a good thing, people; season developing nicely. (I should probably note here that Ophelia Lovibond was yet another in the category of "where, oh where, have I seen that actor before? *checks imdb* Of course: 'Lewis'.")

Agent Carter: Watched the first two episodes of this; will probably keep watching. My main reaction is: it's just so satisfying. In somewhat the same way as Miss Fisher except with much more anger and fork-in-artery grit.

Person of Interest: On hold again until February, dammit. (Not that I begrudge the State of the Union, but otherwise grrr.) Good essay here: Why Person of Interest Needs to Continue Being the Gutsiest Show on Television. It's hard to remember sometimes that reactions are different outside fandom, but I'm not surprised that some viewers want it to go back to being the cosy procedural it never was. And probably hate Root/Shaw.

Couple of reading notes: Aside from finishing A People's History of the American Revolution, it's been mainly comfort reading. Among other things, I reread Lois Bujold's The Spirit Ring, which is an early stand-alone historical fantasy novel that I must have read originally after plunging through the Vorkosigan books. In that context it was a bit disappointing, but it's really very good on its own merits: the world-building is solid, the writing sings in places, and the characters are appealing. Seen retrospectively, it strikes some interesting notes with regard to the Chalion series, too.

Earlier in the month, to remove the taste of a dreadful Agatha Christie conspiracy thriller dealing with the misuse of an international youth movement, I reread some John Verney - anyone else here familiar with the Callendar series? ismo is the relevant one here, but the series starts with Friday's Tunnel - very fun 1960s British teenage adventures, which for some reason our local library possessed when I was a kid, and I later managed to procure copies for my kids (out of print alas and tend to be expensive). All of them use female POV, girls with real personalities and varied interests and a tendency to be irritable, and I'm glad to find I still love them (the books and the protagonists, especially February). If I ever do participate in Yuletide, I'll be sure to propose this series - there has to be someone out there who's read it.

Epiphanies

Jan. 6th, 2015 07:41 am
hedda62: Harold Finch on ecstasy, dancing (drugged finch)
Well, lots of things happening on January 6, anyway:

- Snow!!
- Foxglove Summer out in the U.S. and on my Kindle! Lots of stuff to get done before I can read it, alas.
- New Person of Interest tonight! Looks to be a very interestingly-structured episode and a hell of a cliffhanger.
- Sherlock Holmes's birthday, if one cares to celebrate that.
- Last day for the Christmas tree (and the Christmas Penguin, outside).

Also, Sleepy Hollow last night… !!!

Yesterday was apparently National Bird Day and I did a little author blog post on that and the bird thing in my books - pretty much what some of you have read here already. Also it was Twelfth Night, of course.
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1) Watched the "White Collar" finale last night! I enjoyed it and thought it was close to the best ending possible. spoilers )

2) I've been watching "Luther" in down time (there were some headaches last week) and like it a lot at least through the beginning of the second season where I am now, although there's a sort of pile-on mentality with regard to tragedy and conflict that gets exhausting. So much happens to DCI Luther in the course of a few episodes that you don't wonder he keeps throwing things, though that doesn't make him less of a jerk (toward the maintenance staff if no one else) or paradoxically less lovable. The hero with anger management issues is a bit of a cliche by now, but Idris Elba pulls it off beautifully, and all the supporting cast is great too. I particularly enjoy Saskia Reeves, and Indira Varma (who spoiler ), and of course Paul McGann. I think the show does men better than women, though, including the creepy second lead (who is a spoiler unto herself), though perhaps not if you view her as a sort of metaphor for guilt or a twisted guardian angel.

3) And I did read Code Name Verity and predictably loved it. What is this "young adult" business though, OMG. No, I suppose I would have loved it as a teenager too, but it would have haunted my dreams; I'm used enough to unreliable narrators and tragic twists to be immune to that now, but the power's still there. It was odd reading it after seeing so many spoiler cuts regarding it - and now I give you one of my own; take it seriously )
hedda62: Harold Finch on ecstasy, dancing (drugged finch)
Just to catch up, things I have been doing recently (including at Thanksgiving):

Performances attended:

Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society, which I'm embarrassed to say I knew nothing about before (I've never lived in Boston, but I have visited there a lot). It's their 200th anniversary this year!

It's a Wonderful Life with the visiting Immediate Theatre Project. This was great fun! The concept is that the employees of a financially-stressed radio station have to improvise to put on a live performance of IAWL while the regular actors are kept away by a snowstorm. Four actors doing all the parts and sound effects. Check it out if it comes to your town (which, er, would be a few places in Ohio and Wisconsin at this point, but I'm sure they'll do it again next year).

Museums visited:

The Harvard Art Museums, all nicely joined together now by a new atrium. Lots of well-known works here.

National Museum of Women in the Arts, for the Picturing Mary exhibit. I liked the division by concepts, and they've acquired lots of beautiful paintings and other artworks, though I agree with the critics who say they should have extended the time frame to include modern works and perhaps those with critical commentary. I went upstairs as well to see the 20th-century exhibits, and discovered Remedios Varo, who I'd never even heard of before but is now a favorite, at least as far as Surrealists go. This museum is great for that - so many women creating art over so many centuries, and being ignored even though the work is as good as that of their male contemporaries.

TV:

Greatly enjoying Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries as a fun and escapist treat. Missing most of the other shows that are on hiatus. Looking forward to tomorrow's POI episode, even if they are then going to stretch out the midseason three-parter into January, and waiting for Hannibal to return.

Cooking:

No, there is no reason I put this right after mentioning Hannibal, why do you ask? (I did just check out the NBC page to see if there were airing dates yet, and saw a section labeled "Episodes and Recaps," and thought it said "Episodes and Recipes." WTF. Though it seems there will be an official cookbook out at some point.)

But yes, me. Squash, mostly. And trying to get to some of the WPost's cookie recipes; I made Spicy Smoked Tea Pecan Crisps, although the dough was sooo sticky even before I spilled the egg whites onto it, and disaster pretty much ensued, although the result was perfectly edible and yummy, just not at all tidy. I'd add more flour next time, making sure that the dough could be properly rolled out. And I will be making my usual chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds for the party we're going to next weekend.

Reading:

For reasons of Italy, I've been dipping back into Michael Dibdin's Zen series, but after I finish the one I'm on I am finally going to read Code Name Verity, and then maybe one of the Christmas books.

Writing:

Not at all, dammit. But maybe soon?

We have the Christmas tree up and no cat has yet climbed it, but the ornaments aren't hung yet, so temptation is not at its highest. We'll see…
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1) Post up on visiting places you write about (the why and the maybe why not) at the author blog. With reference to Venice, because.

(Incidentally, I am gathering that as with Twitter, so with Wordpress there is a method whereby bloggers like, follow, and/or post empty comments with the intent of getting you to follow them back; see comment about my interesting post on travel writing which is not what I wrote about but is what the commenter does. Sorry, I have you all sussed out now and I'm not going there. So to speak.)

2) Things I need to do in the next few days: upload teaser chapters for Time Goes By; decide on a not-stupid About the Author blurb for that book, and also whether I should have a dedication; start formatting the print version; do a temporary price cut for TFT and TAF ebooks (month of November, buy 'em now); send out email announcements as well as posting on the blog; get ready to agonize over cover design. Plus other things in other spheres of my life.

ETA: Also have to come up with a blurb for TGB a little more extensive than the placeholder ("Adventures extending over five centuries, three separate continents, and one world-convulsing war"). OMG how.

3) Am attempting to catch up on TV missed while away. Caught up on Person of Interest, which continues to be fantastic this season (all of you who gave up last season, you should come back!); on Castle, which is still entertaining if stretching it a bit with the amnesia plot oh please; on Sleepy Hollow, which is just absurd but completely lovable and doing interesting things with interpersonal relationships; on Doctor Who, which… I just don't know, really. Others to follow.

4) I read, over the course of the trip, several books but two in particular that I'd really like to review together if that were possible anywhere, just because they resonated as if unrelated objects struck and vibrating in close harmony. One is Jo Walton's My Real Children, which I loved as a transformation of the mundane extraordinariness of life into the fantastical (old woman with dementia in nursing home reflects on two entirely separate lives she remembers having lived in two versions of the 20th and early 21st centuries (neither of them ours)), and the other is a memoir by my second cousin Ann Hedreen about her life and that of her mother who died in her 70s of early-onset Alzheimer's, called Her Beautiful Brain. The resonance is close in the description of confusion and forgetting and disintegration, the life choices faced by women, the poignancy of loss and ordinary living, the portrait of a period of time; the format is different, of course, but I think Walton's book has a lot of elements of memoir (there's a lot more of "and then this thing happened, and then the other thing" than I thought I could put up with in what has to be categorized as speculative fiction) and it certainly reads as a real person's story, or stories. (But it's a different sort of person who chooses to write about their own life rather than those of invented characters. I didn't know Ann very well before reading her book; now I almost feel I know her too well. Memoir is not a choice I'd make for myself, even if my life was interesting enough to merit one.) Also, I had no idea before I started Walton's book that it had so much to do with Italy, so that was fun.
hedda62: James Hathaway on the phone while reading Titus Andronicus (titus andronicus)
I finally did the ten books meme, and it is here. With eleven books, because oops. One of the things I found amusing (and forgot to note in the post) was how many of the authors I identified by initials while I was scribbling them down.

In other news, I have been going to physical therapy for the pinched nerve since before my trip, and it is making some difference; the funny thing is that my knee has been a much more painful and present problem, but I know how to deal with that (strengthen the muscles, wear a brace when necessary, try not to twist it or overextend it, take naproxen) and I made it through Jazzercise yesterday without making it worse, so I think it can handle whatever life and travel throw at it. The somewhat-numb fingers feel like less of an immediate issue, but they should be dealt with, and I'm finding out just how much of my upper body is out of alignment as my therapist tries to yank it back where it should be (she didn't actually leave bruises yesterday, but definitely some tender spots). I need to figure out how to work standing up, because that stops me from slouching and keeps me moving and burning calories. This will entail more library tidying, but that's a thing we need to do anyway.

When we get back from Italy, where I am having difficulty believing we will be a week from Tuesday, mostly because I've only been peripherally involved in the planning (having had another trip to plan in the interim). General itinerary is Venice, Rome, Sorrento, Florence, over two weeks, with some stops along the way. I'll read a guidebook on the plane, and learn some useful phrases. Duolingo has been fun, but my ability to say "The shark eats your white cats" or "You are mine until I die" is not going to help me find the bathroom. Though the emphasis on buying shoes and declaring vegetarianism might be useful if I needed to do either of those things.
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1. Just finished a post called "Writing the Future" over on the author blog. I think I could have polished it up with more examples and the like, but I was getting that OMG-long feeling (along with the OMG-going-away-tomorrow one, see below). This will be followed eventually by the others I mention therein, the one on historical fiction, and the one on race. Eventually.

2. We are going to Cape May tomorrow for a few days, a typical vacation for us, meaning the sort you decide on and plan a week in advance. Then I am going on a road trip in the middle of September, me by myself, looping down to Charlottesville VA first for the Monticello Harvest Festival, and then proceeding northwards as far as Maine, taking in on the way some theatre and lots of gardens and a couple of historical markers (the John Andre-Benedict Arnold ones), and hopefully some undisturbed writing time. And picking up a bunch of nostalgically important books, the ostensible purpose of it all. I am foolishly more excited about this than about the October trip to Italy and possibly Croatia, visiting P. on his fall break (which, though we have more time to plan, still falls under the typical-for-us category. We were going to go in December, but this makes more sense in the end. Better weather, too).

In any case, it's a lot of being away from home. And a lot of logistics.

3. Should probably pop to the library so I have something to read at the beach. I was going to save Hild, but I finished it over the weekend. Loved it, and hope to articulate why at some point (when I catch up on Goodreads, if that ever happens).

4. This post about white privilege worked for me as an analogy, not perfect in some directions but extendable in others, and thoughtful, which is the most important thing.

5. Fingers still numb. Should call PT.

6. Many tomatoes! Speaking of which, lunch now...
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Shoulder problem turns out to be a pinched nerve, which was made pretty obvious on Friday when I woke up with most of the fingers on my left hand numb (they still are) but confirmed by the PA at the GP's office today. Have a bottle of muscle relaxants to go with the naproxen I'm already taking; at the very least, I'll sleep well. Pain has been bearable (I am too used to pain, really) but tingly fingers are annoying and a bit scary and make me feel asleep all over somehow, so I'm hoping something works; I have a PT prescription too if I need that. For this week at least, no Jazzercise, no walks (arm by my side, especially swinging, is the worst); I feel like a slug, but I've gone through all of Time Goes By again for final edits, and have some book reviews to do and other stuff like that. And ten pages of shoulder therapy exercises.

Bummed beyond measure about losing Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall in the same week (also waiting for the third one; they come in threes). She had a long life, and could make jokes about how much Bogie there'd be in her obituary; his wasn't nearly long enough, and I keep thinking that his illness would have prevented him from realizing what an outpouring of love and regret there'd be when he was gone. It sucks tremendously.

Currently reading a murder mystery with San Francisco character studies by Isabel Allende (Ripper), which I'm enjoying but in a way that I suspect will tug me back in the direction of formulaic genre when I'm done. Unless everything ties up neatly by the end, but I doubt it will. Also read Dominion by C.J. Sansom, which is a brick of a book in the Britain-capitulates-WWII-alternate-history category; the history (it's set in 1952) is very well thought out but the plot left a bit to be desired (someone who'd checked it out before me had written "WHY" in the margins in a few places, and I tend to agree). Also it was a large thing to hold up with tingly fingers. Next I probably need to read the African-American section in A People's History of the American Revolution (for Reasons).

There seems to be no other news my muzzy brain can think of, except that I must go drown many nasty beetles tomorrow before they can further devour my beans. Which are not in a hill.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I had a horrible bout of insomnia last night, and after tossing and turning for a long while ended up rereading The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope, which is the kind of long-familiar book I turn to in that sort of situation, until 3 a.m. (and then getting up at 6:30). I'd been thinking about TSR recently, since I'm revisiting the Benedict Arnold-John Andre tale as part of researching Book Five, and TSR is set in the same time and place and mentions both of them - anyway, it has to end up on any list of "books that have influenced me," because I'm sure it fueled much of my early interest in the Revolutionary War period (that I'm now following up on) and also provides some rummaging material for my box of character traits. I had a huge crush on Peaceable Sherwood as a teenager, though it's telling that his attributes (especially the "leaning on things and making dry remarks" sort) show up in Richard Halsey more than any of my other characters. But the whole crew of them are tremendous fun, and I think the research is pretty good, though I haven't checked its accuracy. And it has that nice balance of romance/historical fiction where things actually happen, if all fairly simplistic (but it's a young adult novel written in the 1950s, so what do you expect).

I do hope I can sleep tonight. Right now I am pretty much at the "words what are they I cannot word" stage, so I don't think much else is getting done today, but I have done my lead-gardener-thing and also voted, so can probably crash for a bit (in the "rewatching Sleepy Hollow" sense, speaking of less credible but equally fun Revolutionary War-related entertainment). I expect a person more awake than I am currently could manage a TSR/SH crossover. Among the many other things that person could accomplish.

ETA: Speaking of young adult novels, this, LOL.
hedda62: Waterfall, with the words "water metaphors" (water metaphors)
Random things:

In my continuing quest to convince others (and myself, if I could reacquire the fic-writing urge) that Rivers of London and Bryant & May are meant for crossovers, I note that not only does the latter involve a specialist London police unit that solves a mystery having to do with underground rivers, but (since I've now progressed from rereading the early series at random to reading the later books that didn't exist when I was doing the first read) also a crime apparently committed by Mr. Punch. I may manage, at some point, a conversation between Nightingale and Arthur Bryant on Waterloo Bridge; it's always tricky to reconcile magical and non-magical worlds, but Bryant is at least spectacularly open to the existence of supernatural forces. And he may not be aging backwards, but he doesn't appear to be doing it forwards either.

I wrote a short blog post on themes and moral imperatives in Time and Fevers (non-spoilery, unless you count George growing the fuck up as a spoiler) - and thanks to those who have written about and to me on enjoying Time for Tea! Slowly but surely getting somewhere…

Where I am just now is King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (yes that is a place), and I am apparently going to enjoy Chanticleer Pleasure Gardens in the rain later this morning (it's supposed to clear up for afternoon) before picking up Younger Son and friends at the Philly airport.

Much more weed-pulling in store this weekend, and buying of soft foods in preparation for Younger Son having his wisdom teeth out. Hopefully his having acquired strep throat (and amoxicillin) in Ghana will not interfere with the timing of the surgery, because he has to start work later in the week. (He was well into Time and Fevers last I heard, but his girlfriend (also on the trip) was just at the point in Time for Tea where George comes down with SPOILER EXCEPT FOR OBVIOUS IMPLICATION when he began running a fever. We made jokes, because you can't not. He missed the canopy walk and the Cape Coast Castle, but thank goodness for antibiotics.)

I managed not to blow up at fellow gardeners on Tuesday, but oh dear, it's nice to be admired and depended upon, but sometimes being in charge drives me nuts, especially when you have no office door to close but are just trying to get a few minutes to yourself to decide what needs to be done next, and are continually interrupted by people asking what you want them to do next. And then when I'd finally persuaded them to leave me alone a little, there was the one who came up and said, "Just go ahead, but say it out loud; I want to hear your thought process." NO NO NO. (I love them all dearly, but NO.) I guess I need to start trying to get there half an hour before everyone else (which is 7:30 a.m., which means leaving home at 7, while not forgetting half my stuff).

Don't think I've mentioned here how much I'm enjoying Orphan Black season 2, but I am. Having rewatched the first season recently, I can also echo others in saying there's a moment in each episode where I convince myself that each of the clones is actually played by a different actress, and my favorite moments are those in which one clone is pretending to be another one. It's also amusing that Alison is much better at being Sarah than Sarah is at being Alison. (Suburban soccer moms, whether they are in community theatre or not, are naturals at protective coloration.) The balance of humor and pathos continues to be perfect and delightful.

I have been listening to five albums of Vienna Teng on shuffle, pretty much constantly (well, no, but when it's the right time to listen to things). <3 <3 <3
hedda62: Cover of my book Time and Fevers, with Semper Augustus tulip painting. (time and fevers)
Time and Fevers is now available for purchase in ebook and print versions! Details are at my website (which really needs a redesign, but who has time). Here's the blurb:

Olivia Lake’s search for her missing husband continues, as she and time-jumping partner George Merrill venture into the world of tulip traders, spice merchants and theatre lovers in 17th-century Amsterdam. Meanwhile, new players on the time travel stage make surprise entrances, and the employees of Constantine and Associates face the dangers posed by mysterious conspirators, unanticipated market forces, and their own hearts.

This would be the time to talk up the series, people. :)

Waiting to see if the attempt to link my blog to Tumblr is working any better than the currently-claimed links to Facebook and Twitter - they did work, for a while, and now I have to manually repost everything. I have other strategies in reserve, but still hoping maybe Wordpress will fix itself?

In other news, I'm rereading Christopher Fowler's The Water Room with crossover possibilities in mind - the Rivers of London connection is so obvious it hurts. Need to look at my Trope Bingo card again...
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
I went for a walk first thing this morning (about 7 am) and saved shower, coffee, breakfast, and computer for afterwards, and will try to make that the pattern for the spring and summer. Walking or gardening, because oh my god I have so much outdoor work to do, and who knows how long spring will last.

On the book front, I need to waste some of this week's lovely weather forcing myself to get the TAF cover done, so I can order a proof. I did get the last formatting bits done while it was raining (and really I need to write down the steps to make the page numbers start at Chapter One in Word for Mac, because the help file is unnecessarily confusing and I always spend way too much time trying to follow instructions that don't make sense). Note for today: fix the paragraph I discovered where "apparently" occurs twice, and then stop worrying that there are more of those.

One lovely day this weekend disappeared to a drive to Allentown, to watch our son performing in drag (he was the Bearded Lady in a play about a circus, and he was fabulous. Little red number I could never have carried off, and four-inch heels. It's hard to learn to walk from the hips, though).

I finished Checkmate, and so have gotten through all the Lymond books twice, and of course I have Thoughts, but they are too scattered to cohere just now. The gist, though:

1) Most of the plot elements really are quite compelling if you pay sufficient sustained attention, but there are still places I don't know WTF is going on, and I think that's okay, because surface understanding still provides a thematic through-line. If I read them again I'll get the Companion(s).

2) It would be worth making detailed notes on POV choices, but naturally I didn't do that. But there are implications to hardly ever letting your hero dictate the narrative. Which quite possibly relate to the chess metaphor: another aspect it would be worth making notes on. But also to the way not talking about things directs the plot.

3) Archie is my favorite. Because obviously, second to gardeners I like elephant-keepers.

4) Wow, Marthe's advice to Philippa is incredibly problematic.

5) I think Austin Grey is unfairly twisted by plot purposes, but I'm not sure.

But on to other things, and I'll let all this mull itself over in the back of my head.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
Oh god exhausted, but such is the nature of first demo garden workday of the season. I will sort of get used to it again. (And, by the way, we had another inch of immediately-melting snow on Sunday. Today feels like spring, though.)

Since this has been such a gardening-intensive couple of weeks (I have a talk on edible landscaping to give tomorrow evening, and then I can not exactly relax, but space out the duties a bit more) I've been holding back on stuff like creating the cover for Time and Fevers, and instead have been doing an editing pass through Time Goes By, probably way too early except for one factor discussed under the cut, and mostly just because I want to and it has to be done sometime and it's happy-making. long discussion of song lyrics and copyright issues )

I'm through The Ringed Castle in the Lymond reread, and trying to decide how to write a review that focuses on romance without making it seem like I am shallow enough to read the books only for those aspects (which would be an exercise in frustration, really). But I appreciate deeply how it's handled, as a minor development that's tremendously central, I guess, and it fits nicely into my observations (which should have been more formal) of POV use. (Which is the only relevance of the subject line, sorry; but I can hear Francis humming "oh no, not now" at the end of the Revels scene, I really can. Except that it would be under copyright.) Anyway, perhaps I'll just wait till I'm through the last book.

Oh, crap; I guess it's frozen pizza for dinner.
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
1) Three more inches of snow yesterday, and today it's cold and windy and whipping around white, but this is it, really. Somewhere out there a daffodil is blooming.

2) POI just average last night (I think; I was sleepy) but end of season still looks good (the finale is called "Deus ex Machina," yes they are going there). I am a bit concerned about Bear's self-discipline.

3) Also caught up on The Good Wife (for which I was spoiled, but still, a shocker) and Hannibal (less of one, and isn't that interesting?). And watching Elementary season one in downtime (rewatching, but since I fell asleep during every single episode the first time, defining it as such is debatable).

4) Up to The Ringed Castle in my Lymond reread. Funny how little I recall in detail from first read however many years ago that was, though general tone sticks very well. This one, recollected: a fair amount of bad weather, speculations on illegitimacy, and things that begin with L. On rediscovery: surprising amounts of politics and relevance to today's news. And an eagle.

5) Aside from that, it's all a blur of garden plans and powerpoints and seeds and formatting I really should get to and worrying about adult children's schedules. And taxes. (I have netted over $200 on the book so far, but all paid (or to be paid) in 2014 so nothing to be done about that at present. Except think more about marketing.)

6) I did join Pinterest, but have done very little about it so far except stick a whole bunch of Time for Tea-related images on a board. It's a mishmash of portraits and costumes and pistols and scenery and Japanese tea ceremony et cetera, and needs to be organized at some point. But I am intrigued by the idea of wrapping subject matter around imagery.

7) Have taken to spending some time each day working while standing. Looking forward to getting back to long walks when it's a touch warmer. Hope to be plotting Book Five while walking, this summer.

June 2016

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