Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sock update

With time to spare today, I attempted to figure out where I left off with The First Sock.

I chose incorrectly.

At some point in the next week when I don’t want to instead take a running leap onto my needles (read: when I haven’t been Doing Stuff ALL DAY) I will rip out to the ribbing and start over.

I suspect the second sock will have a wildly different color scheme. I am tired of my pretty gold-and-green-and-white.

In other fiber news, I have a rug hooking kit, and I can already tell that Beth is going to need to make me yarn for hooking. Pronto.

At Home: Cleaning

My day job schedule has been changed so that I’m now working a weekend day and getting a weekday off instead. This isn’t all that surprising; what’s surprising is how long I managed to hang on to my weekend while working retail. The promised Saturday and Sunday off was the dangling carrot that sweetened my current position. I’m making a token protest, but in reality working Saturday will make my workload lighter for the rest of the work, will allow Corbie to be out of his crate for three days rather than for two, and has the added bonus of a whole day home alone.

I use the term alone loosely — by alone I strictly mean no other humans.

What are my plans for the day? Lounging in bed? Reading? Writing marathon? Meditation? Yoga with dog modifications? (You know, breathe out and lunge the left leg forward around the dog. Inhale and step back, taking care to not kick the dog. Come into Mountain Pose, breathe in, exhale and bend forward at the hips to reach down and pet the dog) Edit?

Nope. Cleaning. Specifically the kitchen floor and some laundry. I had bigger plans. I *wanted* to: clean the stove and oven, wash all the floors, scrub the tub, mow the lawn, and tidy up some shelves. (I’m a notorious tucker). I may still do the stove and oven, but I sorted through a catch-all box that had been doubling as a cat bed, sorted recycling, washed the kitchen floor. The lawn mower is locked away in the garage and the keys are on Beth’s keychain, and she’s not here, and so that’s a wash. *sigh* Which is fine. I don’t really want to, anyway.

I mixed up some vinegar and water for the kitchen floor, and I suspect that the water was too high to the vinegar ratio, but the vinegar isn’t mine, it’s for dyeing, and I didn’t want to use a lot in case she’s got plans for dyeing tonight. At the very least the floor looks and feels nice underfoot, and more importantly, the sensitive kitty isn’t weezy because of it.

I’ve devoured The Urban Homestead last night. It’s more of the same sort of books, but the writing style is quite enjoyable, and I really like the light banter back and forth between the husband and wife team. I’m once again, I’ll be honest, intrigued by composting toilets, though I know I’ll never get Beth to agree to trying them, and we don’t have the space in this place to do it anyway. I enjoy books that, instead of making it all feel incredibly hopeless, offers positive encouragement. Even on my most negative days I try to remind myself that while it may indeed be hopeless, that’s not a good reason to NOT make changes.

Also, I know really want to raise quail. Mostly just to snuggle.

I actually even wrote down some cleaning formulas, because I never actually jot notes when I’m reading these books and blogs. Simple things: cleansers and floor washes. Instrutions for making lacto-fermentation pickled things (carrots and cukes, first, and then after, green beans!) and reminder again that I want to make my own butter at least once.

My floor is clean, the curtain is in the wash, the cats are curled up and I have a dog attached to my foot. (Reach down and pet the dog). A few hours flurrying around the house, and the inside is mellow. Mellow is good.

Winter Moon: a book review

(We are writing last week off entirely, due to migraines. Last week does not count. I want a do-over)

I have this thing wherein I prefer to read books in order. Now, it’s not that big of a deal with, say, Faye Kellerman’s Decker series or your typical romance series where the books are loosely connected and the Big Bad isn’t all that sophisticated because the point is the relationships not the Big Bad and they cover most of the essentials in back-story-ing in the current book to remind you anyway. I still prefer to read in order, though, because otherwise you miss the nuances that you can only catch by watching interplay as it happens. (re: about me — voyeur)

So, when I read Coyote Dreams, the third book in the Walker Papers series, and realized there was an important story that came before it that I missed, I had to fix it.

Happily, once again our public library rocks and came to my rescue.

This collection consists of three stories: Moontide by Mercedes Lackey; The Heart of the Moon by Tanith Lee; Banshee Cries by C.E. Murphy.

I knew going in that I was going to enjoy Murphy’s contribution, and I wasn’t wrong. It was exactly what I expected and it gave us a good dose of information regarding Jo, the circumstances around her birth, her special talents, and her character. This is not really written as a story to skip, and I’m glad I was able to find it and read it. I really, really love this world of Murphy’s.

I can’t say I’ve ever read anything beyond shorter works by Tanith Lee — hers was one of my favorite stories in the Teeth anthology awhile back, so I can’t really be all that surprised that I adored her contribution. It came across all very quasi-Roman, except not, with a believable bit of theism unique to the world and storyscape that I enjoyed a lot. Once again, I’m left wondering why I haven’t yet sought out her longer works.

And then we come to Lackey’s story, Moontide. Now, I’ve read her work before. Not a lot of it — mostly some of the Elemental Powers books, because, well, I forget that I like her writing. In fact, in my head, there’s a “meh, I didn’t really care for it,” connection because way back when I first starting reading fantasy, I tried her Oathbound duology and did not enjoy it. I did not enjoy it so much that it was the first time I ever decided to not bother finishing a series.

Except, it’s all wrong, because I adore the Elemental books when I read them. I love her world building, I love the texture, I love the lushness, I love the material. I’m not usually big into Western Mysticism and Esoterica, and the turn of the previous century is not my favorite time period, but I love these books.

Moontide is not set in that series. Moontide is set in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series. I decided, once I finished, that I would rush out and get the first book in that series (yay public library!) Instead, I’ve been getting caught up with the Elemental series. Oops!

Winter Moon was a great read, with three very different but very well written stories by some amazing talent! Good, good stuff.

Do you give bad reviews?

This is not primarily a book review blog. I do write up book reviews, because I think it’s important, and I think any press is good press, and I like to read, and I like to share. How do we find out about books we might like if other folks don’t talk about them? This is especially true of ‘midlist’ authors. Everyone knows about Stephen King and Neil Gaiman and China Meiville and Robert Jordan. Word of mouth (or blog) is a good thing.

I have a dear friend who, for a time, officially offered reviews. This is coming to an end as she is YAY focusing more on her own in-various-stages-of-production works YAY. She maintained a firm policy of refusing to give bad reviews, so if there was a book she wound up not liking, for whatever reason, instead of talking about why, she simply would not review it.

I’ve been on the fence about that. I think that one needs to at least think about why it doesn’t work — is the writing bad? Does the story not make sense? Is it just a subject you don’t care for? I have given not great reviews in the past; there are some writers whose works just do not work for me. A great example is Guy Gavriel Kay’s work. I’ve tried a bunch. His Fionavar Tapestry series should have been right up my ally. I loved the lushness of his writing, I loved the premises, and I could not progress very far into the series. I also tried three others of his books, to the same end. There’s no flaw in his writing that I can find, I just didn’t care about the stories. So, I wouldn’t give them a bad review (because I never finished) because the a fault in making a connection isn’t the sole province of the author.

I try to separate, too, the writing from what could be editoral and/or formatting issues and annoyances. Often, I’ll include that in my review and stress that I understand it happens, and it doesn’t usually impact my rating, if I’m using a rating system.

And then there are books that just come across rushed and, well, bad. We’re allowed to write bad books, right? They can’t all be amazing.

So, what do we do? Do we ignore them? Do we review them? Especially when the book in question is written by a writer’s whose work you typically enjoy? When the whole thing comes across as completely rushed, when you can see, as a writer, that if it had been given a little more time it could have been great . . . do we point that out, do we walk about it, or do we pretend it never happened?

Where do you stand on this issue, as a writer, as a reader, as one who looks for reviews?

Love or obsession?

Managed over 1k words for the past two days, despite raging migraines. Very exciting. I watched my writing process for a novel in miniature yesterday: opened the chapter, reread what I’d written the previous day, and watched half of it crumble away into “not how it’s supposed to go” land.

There is no wasted writing. I now know one way for sure that chapter wasn’t supposed to happen. Is this what we tell ourselves in order to keep writing without going (too) nuts? “It’s all practice, it all counts!” Practice, I guess, in letting ourselves be wrong, in being humble enough to keep serving the story and following it, despite its sidetracks and dead-ends.

I go to bed thinking about this project. I wake up thinking about it. I wish I was able to dream about it on command. I keep writing it because I want to read the darn thing and no one else will write it!

I still owe (to whom, exactly?) a number of reviews. This weekend (YAY FRIDAY!!!) I’m roasting chicken, making a Reuben pie, and I may very well tackle that sock…

What are your plans for the weekend?

Book reviews, writing, and life.

I’m sitting on a number of book reviews I need to get posting, but it’s not going to happen today. Possibly tomorrow. I opted instead to have a migraine yesterday. Migraines, for those not in the know, are *boring*. They hurt, but if you have them enough, you develop a tolerance for the mild-to-moderate ones. So, for example, you end up being almost able to function, with enough pain to be easily distractable, but not enough pain to make a stubborn you lay down and put ice on your head. Yesterday I attempted to write my way through the migraine (and managed 1k plus words, though most aren’t going to stay) and then tried to read. I say try, because the ability to decide what to read left me staring at my choices for half and hour before giving up and just going to bed. Grr.

Today I still haven’t decided. A history of food preservation? Post-apocolyptic zombies from a zombie’s pov? The first Brenda Strange book? What to read, what to read? At least the (gorgeous!) Human Evolution book is too large to tote around with me all day, so that narrows it down. . .

Off to work, two hours earlier than scheduled, and really I just want to stay home and fix the 1k plus words that need to be changed from yesterday and continue on . . .


At Home

Welcome to the first post in my new blog series: At Home. At first glance this might seem rather out of place on a blog about writing. Kindly note, however, that this blog is clearly about life. Soggy life, yes, true, but life. And part of life, for me, is making my living space a home. Not just a home, but a home for me.

A little backstory before we continue. Home is a difficult thing. Any child of an acoholic can tell you this. I’m not going to get in to the knitty nitty-gritty of life growing up in that sort of a situation. If you know what I’m talking about you don’t need me to tell you and if you don’t know what I’m talking about no words will ever be able to make you know. It’s ingrained. It becomes a part of you. Growing up, we had shelter. My parents (and the bank, but I didn’t know that then; I was a kid!) owned the house we lived in. Yes, there were financial troubles, but we never did end up on the streets. I’m not sure that matters. If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you grow up with a sort of love-hate relationship with the concept of stability.

When I moved out into my first apartment, it never did seem to take on the feel of sanctuary I thought “home” should have. It was clean, it was uncluttered, it had the requisite dog, it had relatively quiet people with relatively quiet interests, but I still wasn’t able to feel completely comfortable. Years later when I moved in with Beth, it was a bit like moving back to my childhood home (that is, back into the most unstable times in my childhood home) only worse, because it wasn’t my dysfunctional family I had to contend with. At least with my dysfunctional family there was love and shared history. My belongings were packed away and until we emptied out the basement and created our temple room I pretty much had no breathing room for some time. I was thrown back into survival mode — and I don’t begrudge the time spent there, because Beth needed the support of someone who cared about her for her and her alone, to help her get out of that abusive place.

Three years ago, we moved into our first place together with just us, and it was great! And exhausting. The house wasn’t in good shape, but they let us rent it with our horde. We were exhausted from the move, and then there were health problems, and then, well, you know, the economy tanked and we were barely making ends meet . . .

And then the owners announced they wanted to sell the place. This brings us to here and now.

Here and now, Beth and I are living in our most favorite place ever. Yes, it came with heartache and sacrifice, but we know that the cats we re-homed are in great places and are utterly adored, we discovered that our remaining cats are insane and prefer less space rather than more space, and the dog is happy to be further away from the bear raccoons of our older neighborhood (we won’t mention the wild turkey sightings).

Downsizing wasn’t hard; we’d carved out the unnecessary stuff from our lives when we moved cross country, and our first place out here was rented furnished, so, we don’t even have that much by way of furniture: bookcases, a desk chair, a desk, a mattress, a feather-topper that serves as my bed (mattresses are too soft!) four folding tables, and two camp chairs. We had plans for a futon, but since the Corbie’s injury we’ve been on the fence with regards to that. We do want a flopping-and-reading place for the small living room, so those of us who are up late or get up early have a comfortable option for reading. We go back and forth between a low to the ground twin sized futon or throw pillows. The biggest ouch to downsizing was giving up shrine space for those we care about but who are not central to our daily lives. Photos and small shelves on the wall help with that.

Our plans for the furnishing of the house include: a free standing pantry. There are amble cabinets in this place, but between Beth’s herbal work and jewellery making, I’m already down to one three foot long shelf for food storage. The goal is to get her herbal supplies in easy-to-reach areas that will free up cabinet space so I can start exploring canning. We’re back and forth about living room seating, and I do want some sort of table in the kitchen. Not for eating meals, but rather for an additional writing space and, when the time comes, loom space!

Our home isn’t like most peoples homes. We don’t own a TV. We have shrines. Our bedroom has two mattresses, two spinning wheels and a dog crate. Our cabinets are over-run with herbs. We have one closet you can’t even get into for the veritable wall of fiber that will fall upon you. I can’t decide if I’d rather a second desk in the living room or that futon . . . and it’s my favorite living space by far. It is the one that says, “You are home.”

What is this series going to be about? Home-making. Reclaiming forgotten arts that I want to have not forgotten. The joys of cooking. The struggles of cooking. The joys of being home and finding sanctuary from the world at large. How important it is for you to define for you what your sanctuary space should be like — because it is. It’s your home; you decide what’s important. Period. I don’t really have any set goals for this beyond: I want to talk about it. That’s all.