Friday, December 28, 2007

retreating for New Year's

Tomorrow morning I leave for the Olympic Peninsula (weather permitting ferry travel) not to return until Tuesday. I'll be travelling with Alicia and Halima, to a semi-SCA (ie non-official) scribal retreat organised by Tamlyn. Other people will be very busy and energetic, but I'm teaching a mere two classes, so I'll be for the most part treating this as a retreat (gasp!).
I'm taking a bunch of books from my to-be-read pile, my laptop and some mapping materials. I'm going to read, drink tea, and maybe get some writing done. I may get back to Tom's story while I'm letting Willow Knot lie fallow.
Mark the wonder husband scanned a heap of coloured pictures to use in the class on drapery in painting, and hopefully I'll come up with useful things to say about them. I've copied into a handout what Theophilus, Cennini and Dionysius of Fourna have to say about painting drapery, but my own observations will have to be spoken. I may revise the handout for next time, if this isn't such a specialised class that I never teach it again.
I made some very rough notes about looking at drapery as either calligraphic or sculptural, and as either revealing the body or hiding it, but I haven't built them into sentences and paragraphs the way I usually do.
My excuse is that I agreed to teach the course in November, when in the midst of Nanowrimo, and that in December getting my Christmas prep done (for once) in good time only left me about 3 evenings free, some of which I spent feeling too achey to concentrate on anything anyways. And that the first time I teach any course it's flawed. My first set of students are always lab rats, which is too bad, but can't really be helped, and usually they don't do too badly from it.
The road trip should be fun, though it won't be all that long. I've packed a few cds. The site has a tv and dvd player, but on reflection I decided that my Christmas present of the complete Sonny Chiba Streetfighter oeuvre might not be suitable for the other attendees, and hopefully I'll have a chance to watch it with Chris when I get back. That was one of his presents to me. Scanner Cop was another. I'm so looking forward to those.
There's a resolution for January. To catch up with my unwatched martial arts and horror dvds. Evenings are now reserved for that activity.
Happy New Year to my presumed readers. May your coming year be as full of wire-work and stunt doubles as you desire.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

unseasonal spasm of rage

You'll recall perhaps that my nanowrimo month was delayed by my having to prep and teach a survey class on medieval arts. By class I mean lecture, since this was for Ithra, the educational system in the Kingdom of An Tir, and all sessions take place on weekends, with each 'class' lasting, say, one to four hours.
You may also recall that I was dubious about teaching in Seagirt/Crickstow because the current baroness of Seagirt, whose name I forget, had blacklisted Mark, and I was tired of packing class stuff out to wherever, getting in costume, teaching, having no one interesting to hang out with between times, packing up on my own and traipsing back. Also that the blacklisting was in the best tradition of blacklistings, secretive, poorly-motivated, and unanswerable.
I was also dubious about teaching a core course, where the title and duration are set, but the curriculum and text are not.
But some people I like and respect, Alicia and Halima, had asked and encouraged me to teach it, so I agreed, and spent a few days in panic mode creating an outline and finding pictures, which my wonderful husband scanned and set up on his laptop to be shown as slides, and he and I put together a selection of real antiquities and facsimiles of manuscripts and artifacts that people could handle.
I narrated, and he made the slides work, and he covered the metalwork section, and despite the feast being set up in the next room, so that the class was several times interrupted by people fetching tables, and despite the innate boredom of a 3 hr slide and lecture class, it went off. We had a break every half-hour so people could stretch, wake up and come and look at the artifacts. The immediate in-person feedback was positive.
Oh, the other thing I don't enjoy about Seagirt/Crickstow Ithras is the rather adversarial feedback system, which I'm told dates from the same event that led to the blacklisting. The written feedback by the students must be done with the instructor out of the room, and the forms brought to the chancellor by a selected student, so the instructor can't see the forms, and (I suppose) fail the student who provides negative feedback by recognising their handwriting.
But still, feedback is useful, mostly to help me tweak my class descriptions so that students (at least the few who actually read the class descriptions) know what they're getting into.
A few days ago the results arrived, nicely typed out in different coloured fonts, unattributed unless the person signed themselves.
And, y'know, the heck with it. Really. I'm done.
I'm glad I did it, for Halima, and for Constance, and I'm glad they got something out of it, and I hope they get their Lector Artis thingies. But I am now right out of people whom I wish to help with that locally. I'm willing to teach it again (though I'll gripe, because it's a 3 hr. lecture class) in faraway places where they may have trouble finding instructors--I'm always willing to teach in faraway places, especially where they see the usefulness of bringing Mark out to teach as well and getting two instructors for the travel-cost of one.
But the heck with Seagirt/Crickstow and especially with the unnamed person whose feedback was given in orange italic:
Ms Kestrel would be fine doing the course w/o assistance. Some interjections by assistant were not helpful.
You know what? Anyone sufficiently clueless about both SCA and medieval terms of address and reference (you know, that would be the FIRST THING anyone teaches you when you FIRST ARRIVE at an event, to address everyone as My Lord or My Lady until directed otherwise) that s/he thinks Ms Kestrel is a valid term of address, is so clueless I'm surprised s/he can put the pointy end of the crayon on the paper.
This is how it works, Orange Crayon Newbie:
Ms is a title invented in the late 60s, which would be 1960s, not 1360s or 960s, which makes it a post-period, non-medieval title. It may be legitimately combined with my modern mundane name, so that you could address or refer to me as Ms Gordon, and I would answer you.
If you wish to refer to or address me within an SCA context, the legitimate forms include 'my lady', Linnet, Mistress, or Mistress Linnet. I'm not big on titles usually, but since you apparently feel compelled to use a title, my title is Mistress (cue dominatrix images here), never abbreviated as Ms. For weird SCA historical reasons, Mistress outranks Lady, which would confuse most medieval people.
Ms Kestrel is a monstrous construction. Anyone clueless enough to use it knows so little about the SCA, about the Medieval period and about me that s/he has no fecking idea whether I can teach the course by myself, because s/he cannot reliably assess how much I know, how reliable my information is, or whether I can handle the laptop-slide technology (hint: I can't). S/he cannot be assumed to have much fecking idea about anything else.
I should also mention that my 'assistant' would be my husband and my co-teacher, a Laurel and previous Kingdom Arts & Sciences Champion.
I would not have failed you, Orange Crayon, even if I'd read your comments at the time, since the only reason I would have failed anyone would have been for snoring. I passed Antony, who admitted to falling asleep, because he didn't snore and disrupt the class.
But I think you're an idiot, and possibly a snippy idiot, the sort who likes to lecture newer newbies about the horrible lese majesty of wearing belts with red or white on them. I don't know whether you're connected with Watserfais the Blacklisting Baroness, and it doesn't really matter. I'm sure you'd deal extremely together.

And that's my rage quota for the year. I will be nice again tomorrow. Here's a cute cat picture to take the taste away.

I never wanted to be a barometer

I'm no good at reading barometers as it is (cue someone popping in to explain how simple it is and refer me to a useful website on reading barometers) and I never aspired to be one of those weather-witch sorts whose left knee will tell you whether it's going to snow or rain. When M-- asked me whether my joints hurt according to the weather (much of M--'s worldview was formed by reading Lucy Maud Montgomery), I was quick to deny it. No, I said, it's entirely random. Entirely. No weather involved. Certainly not.
So how has December been, arthritis-wise? Cold, wet, windy, December? The month that last year convinced me there was something going on beyond a supposed rotator-cuff injury?
Um. Shoulders, one knee and then the other, left hand and then right hand, right hand inclusive of elbow and shoulder, all taking their turn. None of them too bad, but enough to return me to the two-Naproxen-a-day rate, when I'd been allowed since September to drop to one a day, and had even experimented with one every other day without ill effects. Christmas Eve was the real flare. My right hand went from being vaguely crampy to active pins-and-needles, so that I kept pinching my fingertips to wake them up. Then my right shoulder started to hurt, and eventually the hand cramps spread down to the elbow.
I'd been proud of getting all the Christmas prep done in time and not having to stay up past midnight wrapping presents or stuffing stockings, so I'd be well rested Christmas morning. Instead I had the entertaining mental challenge of remembering which of tylenol, ibuprophen, generic acetaminophen and acetylsalicylic acid, was an anti-inflammatory and which was just a painkiller. Because if you're taking an anti-inflammatory, you can't take another kind of anti-inflammatory or you will deflate entirely. At 2 am this isn't always easy to remember. It isn't much easier at midnight, 3, or 5 am, when the only clue you can remember is that the easy-open non-childsafe cap is ironic somehow. The guilt over keeping one's husband awake with the turning over and whimpering part doesn't help the mental processes.
But that's done, and I feel fine today, can close both hands completely with only a little effort, and slept well. So the weather has nothing to do with it. Nothing. Especially not the clear sunny skies Victoria has just now.
Anyone who wants to tell me how changes in air pressure affect joints is going to be met by a la-la-la sound and finger-plugged ears.

Accomplished: US Christmas cards mailed on the first weekend of December. UK and Canadian cards mailed on or before the third weekend, including cards with letters. Most gifts bought by the 3d weekend, all charitable donations (Operation Eyesight, Oxfam Canada, Amnesty International, Covenant House Canada, SOS Children's Villages, Unicef) sent. Gifts wrapped and stockings sorted by mid-week beforehand. Tree decorated Christmas Eve (tradition in my family).
Scotch shortbread, three batches rolled and cut, four batches (same recipe) as petticoat-tails by the method described in Cooks Illustrated.
roll cookies, three batches, iced with two batches of butter icing
chocolate shortbread, two batches
cheese shortbread, two batches (one in reserve in freezer)
pecan shortbread, one batch as drop cookies, two batches as freezer cookies (one in reserve in freezer)
glazed shortbread, one batch
domino cookies, one batch - a chocolate cookie cut into 2x1 bars and decorated with white chocolate chips to look like dominos
butter tarts, 3 1/2 dozen, filled with triple batch of filling, a capful of rum added to mix and raisins soaked in rum beforehand, which turned out nicely
sugared walnuts, about five cups (really simple recipe)
maple-pecan tarts, one dozen, using up some maple fudge that didn't set
lemon tarts, one dozen, which don't really count - store-bought tart shells and lemon curd passed on to me from a fridge-clearing
sausage rolls, one batch (26 rolls)
cheese straws from pastry left over from sausage rolls
butter cake with caramel frosting for my birthday cake.

You can probably guess which part of Christmas prep I really enjoy. Oh, and I can post recipes if anyone wants.
Butter tarts, for my American readers (all three of you) are a Canadian treat, like tiny pecan pies without the pecans. Instead there are raisins, or currants, or raisins and walnuts. The filling recipe varies madly. Here's a link with a nice picture, but the recipe is not the one I use. The recipe book that the McPherson library put together had, I think, five different recipes for butter tarts, which hints at the variety available.
Mine, found in a tiny privately-printed cookbook from the late '70s, uses 1/3 cup melted butter, an egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1 tsp vanilla and a dash of salt. But I usually make it up in triple batches and put it in the freezer

Other people baked. Chris baked the apple pie from Cooks Illustrated. He made a lovely pie with hardly any space between top crust and filling, all brown and sugary on the top. He says he's never doing it again. I'd say something wise and parental about starting before 9 pm next time, if I hadn't done the same for at least 3 nights. If I'd stayed up with him, I don't know whether my usefulness in knowing where the pastry-brush is kept would have outweighed the annoyance of having his mother in the room while he was working. Probably not.
Mark, besides being the cook generally, made a proper steamed plum pudding, consisting of raisins and currants held together by suet. We took it over to Paul's for Christmas dinner and set it on fire with rum - yay! pretty blue flames! - and played snapdragon with brandy-soaked raisins between helpings.

While we're on the subject of recipes, I have, by circuitous routes, received a tablet recipe, named 'Aunt Tot's tablet recipe'. It came with a fudge recipe and the observation that the fudge recipe (which uses condensed milk) is much nicer I haven't tried either yet, so can't comment, but here it is.

1/4 lb butter
1 lb sugar (granulated)
small tin evaporated milk (runny)
few drops of vanilla essence if desired

Melt all ingreds slowly
When sugar dissolved boil for 10 mins
Cool slightly
Beat till thick but not too thick to turn into a buttered tray
Mark out squares
Leave to cool

Monday, December 3, 2007

nanowrimo aftermath

I went off to Bremerton without my laptop. Intentionally. It felt odd to walk into the Coho caff without looking for a 3-prong outlet. Instead I tucked myself in a corner and wrote Christmas cards. What are you writing this month? This month I'm writing Christmas cards and letters.
All my US cards have been addressed, stamped (with the stamps on hand, lord knows if they were correct) and posted from Port Angeles. If I can get the UK and Canadian cards off this week, it will be an unprecedented achievement for me. Usually I send New Year's cards, or Epiphany cards. What may yet bring me down is the writing of Christmas letters, and over half of the UK cards require letters. One year I got all my cards off early, and never mailed the letter-included cards at all.
I'll have to offer myself some sort of bribe.

The drive back from Bremerton to Port Angeles was entertaining. The weather along the route varied from snow to sleet to rain, and all pretty much horizontal. Probably a dozen cars in ditches, including one lying right on its side on the shoulder, and two or three attended by police cars with flashing lights. I crawled along at 30 mph for much of the snow passages, keeping carefully in the tracks of the car ahead. I spent enough time behind a red pickup truck to wave goodbye to it with quite a feeling of regret when it took an exit.
Very scenic, though. Very winter wonderland calendar picture with the snow. The rain less so. Driving through falling snow is mildly hypnotic, for me at least, and just before I reached Port Angeles I was overcome with a conviction that I'd driven past it without noticing. Yes, I know it's next to impossible to drive through Port Angeles without noticing, but bear in mind that when I was driving the I-5 on a fairly frequent basis, I managed to drive through Seattle without consciously registering it. And Seattle is bigger than Port Angeles.
Do not underestimate my powers of abstraction.

Accomplished: Well, I didn't make the 50k wordcount target. But I had fun. My main character has caught a wendigo in a sack, been swallowed and disgorged by a monster, scared off the Bad Thing by exposing herself to it (there are folkloric precedents, yes), sulked her way into being allowed to witness the ceremony for restoring life to her murdered friend (motif J1955, in case you wondered) even though she isn't in the right clan, and is about to confront the Bad Thing again in a carnival Spook Ride, while dealing with distracting feelings about the Girl Who Might Be an Angel, as well as an old flame who works at the carnival.
Eventually I should stop dropping visual hints about the angel-aspect (dust cloud billows up like wings, light halos hair) and start just calling her that--there's still the question of what kind of angel she'd be. Bendy the devil is a devil, that's established, but I'm not sure whether his belly-mouth tells the truth more than his head-mouth does, and what about his arse-mouth? It hasn't said anything yet, but it could.
It would help if I knew what was really going on, but it's too soon in the story still. I have no idea where the unreadable book with the Library of Alexandria bookplate will come in, but maybe I'll figure that out.
1/3 of Christmas cards sent, 1/3 addressed but not sent.

Reading: things to do this month are finishing Christmas cards, baking, and reading. Harsh, mm? We don't do the tree until Christmas eve. Not much shopping, since most of my gift-list are adults now, and adults get charitable donations.
Read Blood Engines (great title) by T.A. Pratt, urban fantasy, published Bantam 2007. It took me a while to get wrapped up in the book, and if I hadn't been in a ferry lineup I might have put it aside. Pratt has taken the chance of starting with a somewhat off-putting main character, who does improve and learn from her mistakes as she goes. The secondary characters Rondeau and B carry the weight of reader interest for the opening. B in particular intrigued me. At first he seemed like a Tim Powers character who'd wandered in (which is a good thing) but he became more integral to the story and to providing an alternative way of being to the MC, Marla Mason. Once the chained god Chang Hao showed up, the story picked up greatly for me.
On the downside, it was another festival of infodumps. This time it was backstory for Marla and her colleagues. While I do very much like the idea that we've come into Marla's story partway through, and all these characters have a history, whether of their own or with each other, I don't necessarily want to know all about their history when they first appear. Seriously. For instance, Marla did a serious wrong to Rondeau when he was a 'child'. Cool, this is intriguing. It's not so intriguing when I'm flat-out told about it with no relevance to the story. Much later, Marla confesses the story to an ally - see, there it was relevant. And it would have been a shocker if it had first come up then, instead of having me going yeah, yeah, already know that.
This bugged me enough that I did not bother to read the teaser for the next book. And dude, I always read teasers. And prologues, and acknowledgements, and dedications, and appendices. But I couldn't face the strong possibility of yet again having every character's backstory dumped on me, plus, I suppose, whatever items of interest had been added in the first book.
There was a lot to like in Blood Engines. If the infodumps could have been trimmed out, I'd be almost certainly buying the next one. As it is, I don't know.
Second thoughts: I skimmed through the last part of Tinker, with a growing unease. Here's my issue. You've got the impossibly gorgeous long-haired Nordic-type elves, who have kind of a crap political system (I give Spencer credit, the elf social system gets some criticism), with whom our heroine allies herself, not entirely by choice (again, good for Spencer, I like uncertain and equivocal alliances).
The baddies, and are they ever bad, are another supernatural/alien race, the oni. And their slave-races, the kitsune and tengu. Spencer is obviously an anime/manga fan and that's cool too. However. One of the sympathetic elf characters says twice that the oni and associates "breed like mice". Anybody else catching ugly echoes here? Because I am.
The human baddies are the Chinese, who stole Tinker's dad's plans and killed him in the doing, and built the Gate that dumped Pittsburgh in Elfhome. There are supposedly Chinese immigrants in Pittsburgh, though I don't recall any Chinese characters actually appearing. It turns out


that the Chinese govt is actually being run by the oni, and all the Chinese immigrants in Pittsburgh are actually oni in disguise.

At which point, the WTF indicators lit up. Look, I'm just an old white broad who never got past second year in Asian languages, but even I know that oni are Japanese, as are kitsune and tengu. Where is Japan in all this? Why is China ruled by Japanese spirits, and why do they not have Chinese names if they've embedded themselves in Chinese culture as long as suggested? Are there no real Chinese or Japanese people? Are they all evil spirits that breed like mice?
I'm sure Spencer is a very nice person. And none of the Amazon reviews commented on any racist subtext. So maybe it's just me. But it made me uncomfortable, and I'm not inclined to read the next one.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Last day of Nanowrimo, wordcount 30kish

Lowered expectations, your key to success. So, in the last week, I decided that if I hit 30k, I'd be happy. OpenOffice tells me I have 31006 words, and the Nano validation tells me I have 30112 words. Abiword says 30044. I may shoot the file over to work and see what Word thinks it is, but the Nano validation is what counts.
I don't get the cute purple bar that says Winner! but that's okay. I feel justified in wearing my Nanowrimo 2007 t-shirt, because I have 30k words that I didn't have in October. Although I may have to trim out about 10k of a secondary plot that doesn't really go anywhere, at least in that story.

And I have an idea for next year! So apparently I'm going to do this again. An 18th c. epistolary novel, letters between two young women in different 18th c. genres. One to be in a Jane Austen / Fanny Burney sort of social comedy (though, obviously, not anywhere near as skilfully written), the other to be in an Ann Radcliffe / Horace Walpole gothick thriller. So one would be hiding in the shrubbery after being snubbed at an assembly, pouring out her grief onto tear-spotted letter paper, the other dashing off hurried bulletins while holding villainous abductors off with her sharp pen-knife.
Mark asked me why they'd be writing to each other. Because they're cousins. Seems obvious.

For the next while, the only writing I'll be doing is Christmas cards and letters. I hope I can find a printout of the address list I did up a couple of years ago, because it isn't showing up in My Documents.
Tonight I'm off to Bremerton for an SCA event on the Saturday, and hopefully spend some time with my amazing apprentice Eileen.
Sunday I'll be trying to get online for the Drollerie Press chat with Rachael de Vienne. This may be difficult, because I'll be in transit for part of it, and I don't have a laptop with all that cool wifi stuff. Maybe I can borrow Mark's?
Ah, technology.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Twentysixth day of NaNoWriMo, wordcount 27kish

I'm mostly posting so that I can update the tickerfactory counter. Self-indulgent, yes. The wordcount here is the count from a .txt file in OpenOffice. When I transfer the text to the Nano wordcount validator, or, apparently to AbiWord, I lose a substantial number of words by wordcount. The first time it was about 500, but as the text increases, it's up to 800 less, give or take.
Which is kind of disconcerting, even though it's just the count, not actual text gone away.
Anyway, for comparison purposes, here's the counter again.

My cunning plan to write a story that required no research other than checking the Motif Index wasn't all that cunning (big surprise). So far I've had to research Northwest Indian tribes, carny slang and the sharecropping system. All because of my inability to just make things up.
However, I did find a very interesting article on gender bias in the Arne-Thompson Motif Index, which made some telling points. I posted the link on the scribblers thread, and realised that I'd reached some pinnacle of geekery just in saying that.
The article is in JSTOR, if you're the same kind of geek that I am, and it's Folklore Heroines and the Type and Motif Indexes, by Torborg Lundell.
And now I believe I'll go to bed, and read a bit more of The Serpent's Egg, by Caroline Stevermer. And be thankful that the author doesn't feel the need to explain the monarchy system when the prince arrives, nor the physiology of horses whenever someone rides somewhere. (Why yes, I am thinking of the last book I was reading).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

intermission: book covers and news

This came up in comments recently, and I think it's interesting enough to mention here. Rachael de Vienne, whose work I first read on OWW, is being published by Drollerie Press (they have really gorgeous covers).
Her book is Pixie Warrior, with the great tagline: Being small enough to fit in your father's pocket is no excuse not to save the world. Which would definitely get me to pick it up and have a look.
And tomorrow, November 25, at 4pm EST, all going well, there will be an online chat with Rachael, through Drollerie. And all going well, I'll figure out how to participate in time. I'd better talk to the kid and get briefed.

ETA: a change of date. The chat will be December 2, 4pm EST. I'm guessing that the 'Chat Room' link will become active when the chat begins--at least that's what my son suggests. Now I need to check my schedule and make sure I'll be home then, or at least online-accessible.

The cover for Zoe Marriott's next book, Daughter of the Flames is also lovely and striking, with more Steven Rawlings art. This cover already pictures the heroine, so it's possible the US printing, by Candlewick, will get the same cover.
Her first book, The Swan Kingdom, has a great landscape cover, standing stones and flowers, and I'm told the US YA market prefers covers with characters. I've seen a draft(?) US cover for The Swan Kingdom, and it's very atmospheric, a darker look at the UK image, with a girl's figure central.

It does give one hope.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Twentysecond day of Nanowrimo, wordcount 22kish

About half of that is a secondary storyline that doesn't really go anywhere, but oh well. It may find its place later. So, parts of this are fun. Last weekend was more productive than I'd expected, so it looks as if I'm faster when I'm banging words out while in a cafeteria or sitting on a dorm bed drinking wine than I am when I'm dedicating specific time to at home.
Or rather, I'm more productive when I can't go online. That's the big time-suck for me. I don't seem to have any willpower that will keep me off FandomWank, or Making Light, or the ABE book forum. By forgetting my password, I did manage to stay off LJ for some days, but that's changed now.
In 2003-4 I was writing and revising the co-written novel on my desk computer, mostly keeping my online time to checking the Modern Herbal and googling things like the date of invention of strike-anywhere matches. But in 2003 my online social interaction was a smaller thing. Some badmovie sites, the book forum, not much else.
Story stuff: My MC is traipsing around N America, accompanied by a very attractive young woman who may be a (fallen?) angel, and a devil in a backpack. The devil is having to walk, currently, because the backpack is full of a wendigo. MC is unsure how to deal with the wendigo, now that she has it, and is asking advice of an old woman who was once an informant for the MC's folklorist parents.
Which has put me in a bit of an ethical quandary. On the one hand, if the old woman turns out to have already been taken over or replaced by the Evil Thing (and there's a cool story about a woman who skins another wife and wears the skin to fool the husband, which works until it starts to rot), we get a plot turn and some cool SFX. On the other hand, it's not the most original plot twist going, and the old woman is First Nations, so I'd be running the risk of the Disposable Ethnic Character, which I'd rather not, really. Plus I dislike the trope of having secondary characters die just to point up the danger to Our Hero--it brings out my Bolshie streak.
So I may jump past that into the next sequence and figure it out later. It would also be good if I figured out what she wants in her own story, so she's not just there to advise and warn the MC in that story.
The ethnicity of the main character is uncertain, since her name is entirely made up, and her sexual orientation seems to be either bi or lesbian. Things you don't know when you start writing.
What I am enjoying about the enforced speed of nanowrimo is that there's no pressure to write in what I call the 'drenched' style, with a lot of sensory detail. The narrative can be fairly stripped down, with minimal scene-setting. Because wordcount is desirable, I don't have to fuss about my character's inclination to ponder, and then muse, and then ponder a bit more. It's all good, and edit in December.
Not that I'll have anything like a novel, even in first draft, by then. My immediate goal is to get up to 25k by the weekend, and see if I can get above 35k by next week. I'm not going to beat myself up trying to hit 50k.
Next year I'll try this with an outline, and maybe try an 18th c. epistolary style thriller.

Arthritis: definitely this would be a flare-up without the meds. Yay meds! Yesterday my left shoulder was hurting, reminding me of this time last year, when I still thought it was a rotater cuff injury, and was hauling out the sling every time my shoulder hurt. Today is pretty good. An awareness, I might say, of feet and hands, stiffness in the shoulders. Nothing to be fussed about.

Not finished reading: Tinker, by Wen Spencer. I'm having problems with this, mostly related to my reading as a writer. I like the character Tinker okay, but she is one heck of a Mary Sue. She's a genius, she's cute, everyone loves her except the elf-woman who's jealous, she wins fights despite (as we are frequently told) she's just a little thing, she's related to the most important people you can think of in that world, and I'm getting the strong feeling she has a Destiny. The narrative is thick with info-dumps, just sitting there like lumps in mashed potatoes. So those aspects are slowing me down. What may cause me to stop is not related to the writing at all. It's my personal squick. SPOILER!! Tinker is turned into an elf.
I've only attempted to read Jack Chalker once, and it was exactly this that put me off. An interesting, imperfect, realistic character changes into a supernatural being. Just because, as far as I could tell.
There's an Andre Norton I didn't enjoy because the character ends up transferred mentally first into a wolf, then into an alien body, because his own body is murdered in the course of torture. I did read that one all the way through, because there was a valid reason for him to be changed, and because the way the story dealt with someone losing his physical self and losing that continuity worked for me. But it still made me profoundly uncomfortable.
Sometime I should examine in more detail why this is a disturbing idea to me. It's not as if I'm that crazy about my physical self. Taller, with cheekbones, and much less body fat would be preferred. Oh, and 20/20 vision and no arthritis. But would I take a completely different body if it were offered? I don't know.
Not that it's going to happen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

interlude: what's your story about?

The Willow Knot: As mentioned previously, I've been bunging the Willow Knot file out to my Deeply Appreciated beta-readers. In the course of making sure that the file hadn't undergone some strange transmogrification while being transferred (the Star Trek transporter beam cock-ups are nothing compared to what I can do pushing a file through three different OSs), I did a bit of a read-through before sending it out. Then I had to stop, because I'd be wanting to tweak and smooth, and fix some of the problems I know are in there.
But since the point of this exercise is to get feedback on what needs to be in the story and what doesn't, doing cosmetic repairs would be a waste of time.
It would be helpful, of course, if I knew from the start what needed to be in the story. To do that, I'd need to know what the story is about. This may be what's called 'theme'. I'm not sure. Theme is sometimes stated as a sort of moral lesson--"possessive love leads to loss" for instance--that reminds me inescapably of the Snakes and Ladders board we had when I was a kid, which was all moral lessons. Sometimes theme is stated in a single word, like 'courage' or 'endurance'. Some writers have their themes in place before they start writing, others find out partway through. And I suppose some wait for the critics to tell them what it was.

If I have a theme, and my body of work may not be sufficient a body of evidence to argue for that, I think it might be: It's more complicated than you think. And messier.
One of the ideas (I hesitate to consider it a theme) that I seem to be working with in Willow Knot is the idea of one's own story, or of how stories intersect.
Myl is in the Maerchenwald, the Folkloric Woods, the Enchanted Forest where the stories live, where they begin and often end. She doesn't know whether she's in her own story or someone else's. After all, she's the older sister, and stories usually belong to the youngest child. Maybe she's a walk-on in someone else's story, and she does seem to play that part. She's even the Supernatural Helper in one, or seen as such. Other characters pass through, having their own stories to follow to the end, touching the edges of her story.
Which is a concept that appeals to me, and ties in with one of the Viable Paradise lessons, that every piece on the chessboard thinks it's a queen. But that concept fights with another one, that everything that stays in the story needs to be necessary to the story in a clear and straightforward way. Which would mean that only those scenes that belong to Myl's storyline should stay. The scenes that belong to the idea of 'the forest harbours strangeness', for instance, don't need to be there.
It depends what the story is really about. At this point, I'm going to ask the readers what it's about for them.

Nanowrimo: pretty darned slow. The weekend was not as productive as I'd hoped, and this weekend I'll be in transit for some part of it, and at an SCA event for part of it. Saturday will be booked, at least. However, I'm taking the laptop, and hopefully I can get some use out of the travel time, and afterwards be able to pry the text out of the laptop again and push it into my desktop.
And perhaps those circs will allow me to recapture the panic and urgency of the 3-day. Man, it's hard to have the longer time stretching out, and the foolish confidence that one can catch up, by just oh, doubling or tripling one's wordcount. Well, difficult for me. Other people, I see, finished their 50k last week.
The event I'm attending is the Tir Righ Investiture, and the reason I'm going is that it's the Principality Arts & Sciences Championship, and supposedly I'll be doing some judging, though the details seem to be a bit up in the air.

Palindromic rheumatism: hands, particularly the left hand, stiff for the last couple of days. No difficulty in moving them, no problem typing, just discomfort. It takes conscious effort to close my left hand into a fist. My guess is that if I weren't on the meds, this would be a flare-up. On the Monday the knuckles of my left hand were a bit swollen, but not painful.
Hm. In December it will be a year since I figured out that there was something going on with my joints that wasn't a rotator cuff injury. Happy anniversary, mm?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Twelfth day of NaNoWriMo, wordcount 11Kish

Disturbing lack of gold rings, partridges, noted. Action due.
Well, I was social yesterday. At Mark's urging I biked over to the Black Stilt coffeeshop for the 2d meeting of Victoria's Nanowrimo group. It was lively and entertaining, more than a little geekish and excitable. In-jokes and running gags are well underway. I was almost certainly twice as old as any other person there. Presumably there are other members my age, or at least in their 30s. They just weren't present that afternoon. Fortunately no one seemed to mind (or even notice) my demographic oddness, though there was a comment that I seemed to know rather a lot about zombies.
But doesn't everyone?
I'm thinking of adding a talking cat to Sack of Lies. It would up the repartee quotient. And Charles de Lint put one in Mulengro, for reasons never clear to me. Okay, what I couldn't buy was not so much the cat talking (explained as a side-effect of too much ambient magic) as the cat giving sage advice and snarky comments with human intelligence. Jeez, why not have a talking witty gay neighbour instead? It would be lower entropy.
I know, I know, long tradition, going back to Saki's 'Tobermory'. I'm now tempted to have a talking cat that only talks about cat stuff, like food and naps and licking itself.

So far I prefer the 3-Day's burst of manic activity. Nano is closer to the slog of regular writing. Get up, write, come home from work, write. Mind you, I'm not getting the full experience yet, since I've been fussing about getting WK's draft 2 out - you don't want to hear about me, three different OSs and two (three?) wordprocessing programs, do you?
I didn't think so. I will only mention that the SMF .rtf turned out to be too big to get onto a single floppy, and that Mark had the joy of walking me through the ftp thingy on my Thinkpad 380something. Which I love deeply and only wish had a usb thingy so I could transfer files without so much rigmarole.
Rigmarole is 'rambling or meaningless talk or tale' apparently from 'ragman roll' a list or catalogue. In case you wondered (because I wondered, so I checked). I may have a subtitle for Sack of Lies: a rigmarole. Instead of 'a novel'. Though Ragman Roll would be a cool title too. I wonder if it's taken?

I'm trying to stay away from the Making Light strikeplate thread, but I don't think it's working. The rays are seeping through the internet at me, and the tinfoil is useless. It could be a repeat of the first big distraction from writing, which was the Nanowrimo Wank detailed here on Fandom Wank (definitely on the Big Three of my shouldn't you be writing sites).

Back to the (not terribly productive) salt mines. I'll post something about the actual story later.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fifth day of Nanowrimo, wordcount 3kish

Things done list:
1) Seven hours of teaching accomplished on Saturday. The Survey of Medieval Arts ended up being taught by Mark and me together. The students seemed to appreciate it, especially the collection of ancient and reproduction glass, pottery, bone comb, brooches, buckles, manuscript pages etc. to be looked at. The body of the class was nearly 300 slides, and we had a 5 minute break every half-hour or so, so people could come up and touch the real things.
Nobody said a word about Mark being there--I suppose that's the unexpected benefit of the blacklisting being secret. Anyway, I'm done, there. Mark is already thinking of ways to improve and fine-tune the class, which will be useful if another Ithra campus asks for it. But I've decided I'm only going to co-teach it with him, so I'm probably free and clear for local commitments.
2) The Peel Affinity proofread--though not impeccably, because Alicia found a repeated word in the first chapter, after Mark, Daniel and I had all gone through it. Pity there wasn't time for her to do the rest of it.
The Peel Affinity isn't related to the Avengers tv show (thanks Bart! but I do have a proof copy of the biography of John Steed). It's a living history book about the life, lands and household of a 14th century knight, through one year. The illustrations are photos of the reenactors, showing everyday life and tasks in peace and war, as the knight joins the war in France. I appear as a painter, with Chris as the apprentice grinding pigments, and Mark is shown peering into a bake-oven (actually a pottery kiln). Several of the photos imitate well-known manuscript illustrations, so part of the fun is to spot the source. Froissart! Christine de Pizan!
3) Sunday visit to M-- to see how she's been fixing up the house and garden. This went from 4:30 to 10ish, which did in what might have been a fair chunk of writing time. I did manage to get in about an hour after getting home at 10:30, which impressed me, because I'd been near nodding off during the visit.
She did share the cheering news that she's started writing again, a short story about a young woman who may be delusional but whose delusions change her behaviour for the better, because she believes she's affecting the lives of others, and begins to feel less helpless and more responsible. It sounded interesting, and the wobbly balance of whether she's mad or sane reminded me a bit of athenais's snow-woman story. We talked a very little bit about writing; it seems she talks about it with Irene, and mentioned this to me because Irene didn't like the ambiguity.

Things not quite done:
1) Formatting Willow Knot and sending it out as an .rtf
I admit, I'm still reading through and making sure there's no really stupid glitches or continuity bumps. The sort of thing that becomes blindingly clear when you change the font or layout, or read straight through after you've been writing non-chronologically. Tomorrow. I'll get this sucker out tomorrow.
I wish I could have pulled an all-nighter or two in October, but it turns out that I am too old and decrepit. I'm still tired from the weekend, when I didn't even stay up late.
2) Getting somewhere with my NaNoWriMo. Which is just for fun, and I won't be stressing about it, though I have been stressed at the things I've had to clear out of the way to get to it.

Let's see, can I put a ticker factory countdown on here?

Looks like I can! The little purple dealy is a fountain pen, by the way.
Well, my first-person protag has had her rather sketchily-depicted grad student life disrupted by the sudden arrival of the girl with the devil in her backpack, and they are about to depart on a poorly-understood quest. I decided that her thesis was going to involve comparing the hero's journey to the folktale journey, so that ties in to much of what's going to happen to her. I'm thinking more sarcasm than irony.
No commitments this weekend, except for getting a basketful of apples through the dehydrator, so I should be able to catch up a bit. Though not to the people who already have 20k or so. It's started, that's the main thing.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

First day of NaNoWriMo : wordcount zero

Things to do list:
1) finish the handout for the 4 hr lecture I'll be doing on Saturday, for Survey of Medieval Arts, a class I have various philosophical issues with, right from the start, mostly related to the poor fit of SCA 'Arts' with either medieval or traditional understanding of 'arts'. Fortunately, Mark the Wonder Husband is scanning in pictures for me, in return for the following,
2) finish proofreading The Peel Affinity by Friday, ideally tonight so the pages can go back in time. This isn't too difficult, since the text has been gone over severely already, and I'm just a pair of relatively fresh eyes ('relatively' being one of the words I've been flagging, along with 'substantially' and 'virtually') picking up the odd typo or missing word. But it's slow and somewhat painstaking.
3) format Willow Knot draft two in SMF and make it an .rtf so that the disket (yes, archaic, I'm an old-fashioned sort) can convey the file from my laptop (Windows) to Mark's computer (BeOs) to be emailed to my computer (Ubuntu) because my floppy drive never works. And then I can send it to my lovely, lovely, deeply appreciated beta-readers.

Then I can fall into Nanowrimo with little joyful hungry cries. Or possibly cries of dismay. Sunday morning, I'm hoping.
There was a meeting of Victoria NaNo participants on the 28th, but I didn't make it, since I was busy writing Willow Knot. That may be ironic, I'm not quite sure. Then I missed Robert Wiersema's reading on the 30th, which was more annoying, because I'd been looking forward to that, where the first was more duty. It seems I'm becoming a hermit except for when people come to see me, or else my ability to remember dates is diminishing.

It's particularly kind of Mark to help with this course, given that he's been unofficially blacklisted by the local Ithra campus. But that's a long story, and I have to admit that sometimes I'd be just as happy to be blacklisted as well. But somehow I come across as sweet and inoffensive (the acceptable face of Mark).
Anyway, it's a pain to be toting the barge and lifting the bale for classes by myself here, when other campuses (campi?) want both of us. If two people whom I do respect and like hadn't asked me to teach this one, I would have begged off. I hope, for their sake, that I do a decent job of this, and they get something out of it beyond the required credit for a Lector Artis.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

comparative earnings

From my fiction writing I've made $90, from the sale of a short story (novelet).
I was once asked to edit (not copy edit, but editing for flow and style) the opening chapters of a novel, for which I was paid $50. I'd contracted informally for $40, so that was a nice surprise.
I was once commissioned to calligraph and paint a page of parchment in manuscript style, an anniversary gift for which I was paid $700 (materials included).

So, for my second career, which should I pick? Not that I'm quitting my day job, which I rather enjoy. I'd say painting, but I may have exhausted the market for pastiches of East Anglian illumination.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

my writing space

Orogeny posted a pic of her writing space, and I am torn between envy and admiration, especially of her gorgeous red sponge-painted wall. Athenais has a lovely clean-lined one as well.
Well, I have two spaces. Here's my downstairs isolation cell (no internet access) where srs writting gets done:

It's a window seat, and I am a total sucker for window seats (one of the reasons we bought the house, the main one being a room big enough for the 10x4' table). This is where I write in the mornings, when the house is quiet.
It doesn't look nearly as cluttered as it actually is, due to my not being able to show the full space. Wait, this is what it looks like from my side (note clutter):

And here's my upstairs writing space--I do have a sponge-painted wall behind it, in 'colours left over from the painters'.

I guess 'comfortable clutter' is about the kindest I can say, here.

Other writey stuff: I'm thinking of trying NaNoWriMo next month. This is my carrot (or is it the stick?) for finishing the second draft of Willow Knot this month and getting it to betas. Which reminds me I should confirm who still wants to beta it, considering that it's getting up to 110k (ah, the heady days when I groaned about it reaching 90k, dear dead days that they were when I was young).
So. If I don't finish the second draft, which includes cleaning up the new material enough that I'm not consumed with embarrassment about someone else seeing it, by the end of October, I can't do NaNo. So swear I.
But if I do get that done, I can play NaNo for the month of not looking at Willow Knot and getting fresh eyes.
This weekend I got the 'queen comes back from the dead' scene written, and revised the confrontation between Myl and one of her ladies-in-waiting. The lady has fallen ill and whispers are going around that she's been bewitched, and what did happen to Myl's brother anyways, hm?
I was aiming for drama, but. The chief lady-in-waiting, Havoisie, who's otherwise a bit of a self-important figure of fun, asked the stricken one just what was wrong with her. On hearing the list of symptoms, she sniffed and said 'You're not bewitched, you're with child. And if you think the queen had aught to do with that, your mother shouldn't have let you out alone.'
So Myl doesn't get a big dramatic moment. Sigh. But this may be better.

Next weekend I'll be at VCon, the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention, guest of honour Peter Beagle.
I hope I can get the subplot about the Lusantia refugees and the guilds all tucked in by then.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Interior journeys

No, not pretentious, merely a lame pun. Last weekend I travelled again into the interior of BC, this time to Oliver, a little past Keremeos and Ashnola. Oliver, the Wine Capital of Canada (is every small town in BC the capital of something?) is working to be wine country, with tours and tourists and quirky shops and wineries.
I wasn't there for the wine, though I did mention it to Mark afterwards as, y'know, something we might do, just for, y'know, fun some time. Our travelling is so firmly SCA-business-related and there's so much of it throughout the year that going somewhere just to go there risks straining the brain-muscles.
On the way back I managed a stop at Crowsnest Vineyards, because driving past every single one seemed perverse. I tasted their two sample wines and bought a 2005 merlot, just because.

The travelling part: I drove there and back by myself, after dropping Mark off in Vancouver so he could share (and further learn) what he'd studied at the two swordsmanship seminars he'd just been to.
The drive to Oliver was smooth, the weather was clear and warm, except for the pass in Manning Park where snow lay on the branches and roadside. The road was clear, and the scenery was--I had to keep reminding myself to look at the road. Spiky evergreens, spattered and occasionally hidden by a bright tawny yellow tree, branches flung up and out like someone in hysterics, a lamp-yellow you could warm your hands at. I don't know what kind of trees they are, I confess this. Birch? I could tell the stands of pine, unfortunately, by the red, dead clusters and swaths of trees hit by the pine beetle. The red-leaved bushes were sumac, (non-poisonous) as I learned at the event.
I stopped briefly at the Hope Slide, and thought about '55 metres above the original ground level.' Driving through the Sunshine Valley spooks me a bit more, perhaps because of the view of the former highway, running into the mass of fallen rock.
The drive back started well. I stopped at Bromley Rock, to stretch my legs and look at trees and rocks, and regret that I hadn't brought a camera.
Mark says he's given up suggesting that I take a camera with me, so this is permission and encouragement to him to start up again, and remind me of the bare, grey, hollowed out tree-root clutching rocks in Bromley Rock Provincial Park.
The campsites or picnic sites are on shelving land stepping down from the road to the water, and the parking lot is built over a section of old road, which now curves past the paired toilets and runs slowly into the foundation of the present highway. The asphalt is smooth still, narrow cracks marked by moss and tall weeds here and there. Young trees are springing up along the edges of the road, making a natural avenue, a little too closely set to be planned. The new highway was high above my head, invisible and muted, and no one else had stopped at the park. I walked along it to the end, something I always want to do when I see old disused roads, but rarely have the chance to.
I suppose roads are liminal spaces, like thresholds, wells and hearths (remembering Dr. Doyle's comment on threshold burials in Well Below the Valley). It was easy to believe in ghostly travellers, in time being muddled and doubled, losing its way on a lost road. There's a lovely evocative passage in one of Hugh Hood's books, where the narrator hikes along a narrow hill or berm and realises that it used to be a railway track, and that in his youth he'd stood and watched the train come along it. One of the Goderich (New Age) stories, I think.
Between Princeton and Hope the weather turned to driving rain and gusty winds. Still scenic, but requiring more concentration. Most impressive was the continuing road construction in Manning Park, where the new road face was skinned with rainwater as smooth as a lake, and reflected the yellow and green of the trees as clear and unrippled as a calendar picture. Until I drove over it, of course.
The toughest part of the return trip was finding the New Westminster apartment where I had to meet Mark. This took easily half-an-hour, including driving up and down the wrong street twice, and largely fruitless quests for a)a public phone with b)a parking spot with a block of it.
Would I rather drive the Crow's Nest, or Vancouver? Let me think.

My purpose was to attend the Tournament of the Golden Swan (hereinafter Swan), mostly to spend some time with my amazing apprentice Anne (sometimes Alis, this time Rajpal), partly to help with judging as needed, to teach a class if anyone wanted, and to visit with a few people I don't commonly have opportunity to visit with.
As it worked out, I did sit in on a fair bit of the judging, had only one student (but eager) in the class, and skimped a bit on the visiting because of the judging, which is only loosely scheduled and can go on. And on. Rather like me sometimes.
Did manage a brief escape to buy local wine at the recommended Toasted Oak, though had to skip the tasting room (yes, another, later, visit is a good idea). I was in full 14th c. middle-class woman, with wimple and gorget, and Rajpal was in full Hindu male with turban as appropriate.
Does anyone know a joke that begins 'So, a nun and a Hindu walk into a wineshop...'? It seems there should be one, unless it's the rule of three and we should have had someone else with us. The staff were quite nonchalant about the whole thing.
Particularly appreciated was the chance to talk with Anne about writing, she being a talented writer (and role-player, and so on). We talked about the difficulty of handling dementia or similar mental problems in fiction. Which sparked some thoughts that might deserve their own post. Hm.

The purpose of Swan is to create and portray a medieval persona. Not someone in fiction, or someone who did exist historically, but someone who could plausibly have existed but didn't. In other words, to do for a weekend what the Society for Creative Anachronism allegedly does all the time. Very few people are willing to attempt this.
PARMA does this at our Fort Rodd Hill demo in late June, but as interactions with the public more than with each other. Often the public has no clue what sort of questions to ask, so I tend to make things easy by telling them what I'm doing, like grinding pigments to make paint, trimming a quill so I can write, boiling parchment scrapings to make size glue, and so on. I rarely get questions about what I'd eat for breakfast, how many rooms in my house, the names of my servants, or anything really prying.
Swan is considerably more intensive, though it has the misleadingly cosy atmosphere of a kaffee-klatch, probably due to being only open to female personae. I have several philosophical disagreements with the concept of Swan, but that, again, is another post some other time.
During the presentations and judging, I did some thinking about how the creation of a persona relates to the creation of a character. The Swan candidates, using words only, need to make their interlocuters believe in their homes, their families, their daily tasks, the journeys they take and the hopes, opinions and faith of someone who never existed. Like radio-plays convincing by sound that the characters are climbing a mountain, or in a storm at sea. Like convincing by a pageful of words and three key details that a character is running through the cobbled streets of a medieval city, desperately afraid of something.
It's always in the details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

nostalgie de la bbq deux

Setting One: an odd little motel (Rocky River). The rooms were generic hotel rooms, in a confusing number of categories (possibly due to renovations underway), the relation of category to cost being unclear. The layout was single-storey, scattered about the grounds in L or E formations, as if a regular 2 or 3-storey hotel had been experimentally disassembled. All rooms were pleasant and clean, and mine had a view of the well-mowed lawn behind the buildings. Prusik's room had a jacuzzi, which he was told not to use for fear of an extra $30 (like a fine, maybe?) Bart's had a kitchenette, and tv mounted on the wall in disguise as a flat-screen. Scott and Heather had the separate little cottage designated for smokers.
Setting Two: Terri-Lynn's house. Handcrafted in wood, with a spacious open kitchen, an open-to-the-roof living room (with a flatscreen tv so big that TNH and PNH didn't perceive it as a tv), and detailed with touches of sculpture or mysterious tools and decoration. Like walking around inside a Brian Froud painting. Outside, beautifully landscaped with pool and gazebo and the Barbecue of the Ancient Mysteries, the tended grounds giving way to forest and river behind the house.

Characters: Terri-Lynn, her husband and family, the gracious and impressively relaxed hosts.
VP instructors, staff and associates: Debra Doyle and Jim Macdonald in place, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden later, Jen Pelland and Pippin in place.
VP students and associates: oh gosh. Travelling with Scott and Heather, me, Bart Patton, Chris Azure and John Chu. Erin Underwood travelling with Jen. Laura Strickman staying at Terri's. Terri herself, of course. Have I missed anyone? Of course we did miss Linda, Evelyn, Diana, Cal, John Hawkes-Reed and Lucia, Mac, Lucy, Retterson, and all those who just weren't able to be there.

Montage: driving narrow country roads through dark looming woods, a discussion of whether we'd be in a straight horror flick or a slasher movie. Casting Heather as Final Girl, Bart as Guy Who Gets Killed First, Chris as the Killer No-one Suspects--probably the one who vanishes early on and is presumed to be a victim until he returns in the last reel. Laura decides not to have a shower after all.
-laughing way too much for someone recovering from a cold, with every laugh bringing on a coughing fit, and not minding.
-getting up (kind of) early to write, at the window looking out towards the trees.
-sprawled around Scott and Heather's room, discussing what to do about breakfast and when to head over to Terri's, Scott telling us proudly about Heather's house-repair skills.
-sitting on the edge of John's jacuzzi (if I put one foot into it, is it only $15?) talking about writing and critting.
-touring Terri's house, hearing stories of how the BBQ of the Vanities came to be, and the marble in the bathroom (truly, good fences make good neighbours, or at least good contractors).
-in the gazebo, the scrapy sound of metal chairs being moved around, Jim's narrative of saving a woman's life the morning before leaving for the reunion, complete with ekg printout (annotated commentary provided).
-pockets of intense and diverse conversation everywhere.
-Scott and Terri's husband talking house repair and construction.
-Doyle's stories of Jim phoning out of the blue, perhaps from a bus station to say he'd be home soon, perhaps from overseas just to check in, once from a brothel (in S America?) because it was the only available telephone in town.
-me tempted by potato chips, three months into my resolution to give them up, chewing dried apples for methadone (really not the same).
-Teresa exclaiming in delight over one of Terri's cool devices, the name of which I do not know, a cunningly-made rack, perhaps for clothes, with wooden arms that pulled out horizontally or slid back to hang beside the turned post.
-Jim and Teresa discussing and identifying one of the tools on the wall (a potato-fork, I think).
-Pippin commanding her father to not sing.
-the sun's reflection from the pool climbing the bank and into the gazebo, lighting it from below.
-the brave ones by the pool in swimsuits, swinging their feet in the water.
-Scott discussing why it may be that the book forum is so hard to search and isn't googleable, so clearly that I felt closer to understanding search engines that I've ever been before. Still didn't quite make it, but my mental fingertips were brushing the ideas.
-Teresa annotating the spelling list on Making Light, as various of us around the kitchen workstation admitted to those items that were our personal stumbling-blocks (vermilion is mine, but now I know a trick for it, yay! because TNH pointed out it comes from vermeil).
-Doyle and Teresa sitting on the floor, telling Norse ghost stories and English ballads.

Highlights: Patrick talking about unreliable narrators, Freedom & Necessity, and why do so few people like Instance of the Fingerpost? and why was Dream of Scipio so unreadable? and convincing me I should attend the Farthing Party (alas, transportation costs forbade it).
-learning a new non-slip way to tie my shoes, which works even with the stupid round laces on my other runners, as part of Uncle Jim's Impromptu Knot, Hitch and Bend Tutorial, including examples of the easily-removable hitch for climbing down cliffs, tying in the bight, tying behind the back, why one hitch is better used around round posts than square ones, two lines of different size fastened securely, and much more.
-the Room 50 chocolate cake.
-pancakes! with bonus explanation of why TNH and Jim can't cook together: she is a performance cook and he is a recipe cook (this has elsewhere been described as the difference between cooks and bakers) and they inevitably clash, solved here by having Jim do pancakes and TNH do bacon and eggs.
-forgetting one of the Four Humours and Temperaments, and having three or four people list them in uneven chorus; even more impressive when you consider I could have asked a techie website question and gotten at least as many answers, possibly from the same people.
-Pan's Labyrinth viewing - but I will write more of this later.

If more memories float up from the bottom of my mind, I will add them. Suggestions also welcome. What were your highlights?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

intermission of assorted thoughts

It looks as if I'll be off to the interior of BC again this weekend, to Oliver this time, for the Tournament of the Golden Swan, a persona development competition (well, challenge, really, as there's not just the one winner). I'll be possibly helping with judging, possibly teaching, certainly visiting with my apprentice Alis.
Undecided whether to take my laptop, but I probably will. Even though the battery doesn't last for even a half-hour.
Mark is just back from doing two swordsmanship (Western Martial Arts) workshops back to back. Rather like sf/f, WMA is a small and incestuous world, and there were even crossovers between those two worlds, with sword instructors talking about DragonCon--oh, and Neal Stephenson was at the second workshop.

I hoped for more writing this past weekend than I was able to achieve. On Saturday I was too crampy and occasionally pukey to sit comfortably at the keyboard, so I curled up with a hot-water bottle and read/re-read four Diana Wynne Jones novels, thus slightly reducing my TBR pile.
On Sunday, feeling better, I went to bookshops to ask if they'd put up posters for V-Con 32, and managed to buy six books, thus increasing my TBR pile. Oh, and one book was Hexwood, a DWJ I've been looking for. Hm, I should do a quick round-up of what I've read recently, too - maybe in another intermission post.

sniffemout over on the ABE Book Forum has been advocating for Nanowrimo, and I'm starting to be swayed. If I got the second draft of Willow Knot cleaned up and read to be beta'd before the end of this month, I could let it rest for November and do Nanowrimo. I could even use the dream-plot I was considering for the 3-Day before the newspaper story supplanted it.
After all, I only managed 18k over 72 hours. I know I can write 1k/hr for a couple of hours at least, and still turn out clean copy. I know that dithering is not productive. I need to work on Not Dithering.
I will look into this further.
While browsing 3-Day t-shirts on Cafe Press, I was led astray, into searching through the other writing-themed t-shirts, and found a slogan which appealed greatly: My goal as a writer is not to achieve fame or fortune, but to have entire fanfic archives devoted to my novels.
Yeah. Sometimes I look at what I'm writing, and consider the potential for fanfic, or slash. M-- writes some scenes so potentially slashy that I used to add the comment 'subtext!' in the margin. I don't have that gift, I don't think. But maybe somebody will do it for me.

The plum tree this year produced three-and-a-half dehydrator loads, which kept me busy for a few days. Plums take a surprisingly long time to dry properly, and by running the dehydrator in the 'laundry room' adjoining the bathroom, I was able to get the bathroom nicely warm before showers, without running the heater. Very economical.
The pear tree, which for the last two years has managed perhaps half a dozen pears, came up with other two dozen this year, and very nice they were too. Four ziplocks of dried pears achieved. I hope this means the tree is recovering, and that it isn't the final flowering before a glorious end. Or final fruiting either.
Since there's still a boxful of dried apples and a freezer shelf full of apple crumble-makings from previous years, I'm more relieved than anything that the spartan and golden delicious are less fruitful this year. I've dealt with as many of the chewed apples (is it a moth? bores through and leaves a sort of mealy brown stuff where it passes) as I could find, and the rest may be about the right number to be eaten fresh without panic or pressure.

Monday, October 1, 2007

nostalgie de la bbq

Viable Paradise Eleven is underway. A new set of students, a new set of works-in-progress. Group critiques and one-on-ones and games of Thing and Mafia.
I feel (as I said elsewhere) as if I should be envious, or wishing I was there with them, but I can't find those emotions anywhere. I feel happy for them, I hope in a vague way that they have even half as wonderful a time as we did, and I look forward to reading Dorothy's thoughts about it all. But I don't imagine myself a student again, especially not a new student coming among strangers, with it all to do over.
I cherish the memories, the lessons and the friends that came from VPX. Those I keep.

Back in August 11-12, Terri-Lynn hosted a VPX reunion bbq at her place, which I mentioned briefly on another post. Of course, since the Xers keep in touch, reunions of some degree happen whenever two or three are gathered together, but this one grew and grew, snagging staff and instructors into its maw. And I was on the east coast in August, in Pennsylvania, hurrah!
The way eastern states and cities fit together confuses me. I mean, I know the names of places, I have all sorts of literary, fictional or historical associations with the names, but only the vaguest idea where the names are in relation to each other. So flying from Pittsburgh to New York in order to visit Connecticut made me dizzy, even when I looked at the map. Fortunately, cleverer people than me were doing all the actual transporting, both driving and flying.

On the way to the Pittsburgh airport, I saw (from a distance) one of the sites where George Romero filmed parts of the Dead series. No ghouls visible at that time. (Night called them 'ghouls'; I'm not sure when the terminology switched to 'zombies')
The staff at the Pittsburgh airport were cheerful and pleasant (huge contrast from my changeover on the way home from VPX) and one complimented my hi-top sneakers, which are a camo pattern with penwork additions by me. The portents were favourable.
Now, the earlier plan had been that Diana would be driving, and would pick up me, Evelyn and Linda on the way (woo! girls' road trip!) but due to family complications (families are complicated) that hadn't been possible. Diana, Evelyn and Linda were sorely missed--I'm harder to shake off, at least in this instance. Scott and Heather were renting a van, and willing to add me to the existing cargo of Chris and Bart. We'd all meet up at the car-rental desk.
I arrived at La Guardia (which I can't pronounce properly unless I stop and say it slowly, but you can't tell that online) and found it to be very large. I cast myself on the mercy of young men in reflective vests and found out that the Hertz desk was not a desk, or rather, that the desk was in a building on the outskirts of the airport.
Okay, I'm resourceful. I can take a shuttlebus as resourcefully as the next person. I did so, and reached the Hertz office, where I settled myself with Game of Kings and some dried apples, knowing I was the earliest arrival and that I could hardly be missed in the small glass box set on tarmac.
Considerably later, I looked up from Lymond being cleverer and more tortured than anyone else for the umpteenth time, and noticed that no one had claimed me yet. Hm. Well, my flight had been delayed due to weather, so might others. I popped over to the desk and asked about the rental, had they heard from Scott at all?
Well no, and they didn't have any rentals booked under his surname.
The unsettled feeling that I'd forgotten something vital and had screwed up and it was all my fault began its creeping progress. I reminded myself that Heather might well have booked the van. Did I know her last name? Um. No, I didn't.
I went back to Dunnett for another period (possibly the lower Cretaceous, since I had neither a watch nor a cellphone to measure it, and the office had no wall-clock) but the you-screwed-up feeling was not to be denied.
I sat at the office phone (THIS PHONE DOES NOT ACCEPT INCOMING CALLS) and called the cell numbers that I had noted down. My husband reported that no one had called him about cancellations or emergencies. Bart reported that he and Chris were happily drinking coffee at the food court closest to Scott's gate and that I should come and wait with them there. Before I could confirm whether Hertz would let me shuttle back to the airport when I wasn't myself renting anything, Scott made contact.
A while later Bart and Heather arrived, picked up a van, picked up Scott and Chris at the airport, and we were on our way.
Addendum: On the road, Chris pointed out where some of the filming of Men in Black had been done. There's some significance there, in my flying from a horror set to an sf set, but I don't know what it is.

More later - must do something about dinner.

Monday, September 24, 2007

the most beautiful intelligence report in history

Excerpted from The Palace Museum: Peking: treasures of the Forbidden City / by Wan-go Weng & Yang Boda, New York, Abrams, 1982, p.160-163:

"One of the most celebrated of Chinese figure paintings is Han Xizai ye yan tu, or The Night Revelry of Han Xizai. The son of a general executed by the emperor of a northern kingdom, Han (907-970) fled and offered his services to the Southern Tang dynasty. But during the reign of its last ruler, he perceived the inevitable fall of the corrupt regime and tried to stay out of politics, deliberately leading a pleasure-seeking life in order to disqualify himself from responsible positions. The suspicious monarch sent his court painters Zhou Wenju and Gu Hongzhong to spy on Han and make a visual record of his licentious behaviour.
"This scroll, attributed to Gu, is the most beautiful (and possibly the most wryly deadpan) intelligence report in history. It comprises five distinct scenes, artfully separated by three screens and one very brief space. The first scene is of feasting to lute music, with a curtained bed suggestively half-visible in the background. Han, with high hat and full beard, sits on the couch with a man in a red robe who may be Lang Can, a scholar who ranked first in an imperial examination. Before the couch stands a long, low table (like a modern coffee table) set with footed dishes of food, ewers of wine, and wine cups. Seated near the table are two guests, who are probably Chen Zhiyong, an official in charge of rites, and Chen's student Zhu Xian. The lute player is the sister of Li Jiaming, assistant director of the Imperial Theater and Music Academy, who sits watchfully by her side. The small girl in blue behind Li is Wang Wushan, an extremely talented dancer. Behind her stand two students of Han's and two servant girls. Han and most of his guests focus their attention on the lute player, thus subtly unifying the composition by sightlines.
(description of middle scenes omitted, but I can add them if requested)
"In the fourth scene, Han sits cross-legged upon one of the fashionable Western-style chairs. The wine has made him warm: his hat is still firmly on his head, but he has stripped to his loosened undergarments and is fanning himself. A concert is now in progress. Five female musicians are playing straight and cross flutes under the stern eye of Li Jiaming, who keeps the beat with a clapper. Around the edge of a floor-standing landscape screen a man and a woman exchange a few words; they serve as the transition across time and space into the fifth and final scene.
"This penetrating study of a private party displays excellent draftsmanship, exquisity coloring, an ingenious composition, and convincing details such as the celadon wine warmers typical of the tenth century. It is an exquisite commentary on the social decadence of the age. ... the characterization of Han Xizai appears to be true portraiture, although other figures are perhap within the artist's repertoire of stereotypes. The historicity of the subject has never been questioned, and the picture provides us with an irreplaceable example of Chinese figure painting datable between the tenth and twelfth centuries."

The painting is findable online, though mostly in very small images of the original or larger images of mediocre modern copies. On the very small side is this one, at the site of an artist who parodies classic works. His take on 'Night Revels' is reviewed here, and isn't a mediocre modern copy, at least. Ah, here's a more visible image (in two parts) of the original.

I've thought for a long time that this would be a terrific setup for a novel, whether straight historical or fantasy. Someday I may be capable of enough subtlety and texture to attempt it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fruit stand capital of Canada

Which is how Keremeos bills itself, and where I spent the weekend. Or rather, I spent it outside Keremeos, at the Ashnola campground beside the Ashnola River. The campground is a pleasant small one, flat shelving land on a riverbed between tall steep mountains that seemed to be composed largely of scree and unstable rock. It can be unnerving to drive through the Similkameen Valley because of this, unless you are able to completely ignore the possibility of landslides or floods.
My natural tendency towards fatalism / resignation helps somewhat. I'm old enough to remember the Hope Slide--which we drove by on the way to the event--and I can't help but speculate on what, if anything, one would be able to do, seeing another slide? There's nowhere to go. The rocks would cover the narrow valley floor and splash up the other side. Make one's peace with God, I suppose.
And aren't we cheerful? Well, there's a pleasure in melancholy, and another pleasure in morbid thoughts, or one wouldn't engage in them.
The landscape is striking, in quite a different way from the rocky coast and islands that I'm used to. My family travelled through it any number of times in the summer, and nostalgia tugged at me, especially when I walked among the tents and smelled musty canvas, the smell of summer in my memories. Ponderosa pine with fat cones and needles as long as my hand; the ground a mix of smoothed river-rocks and brown sand (a real challenge to set tent-pegs into); some sort of cricket that opened up yellow-and-black wings when it leapt, looking like a tiny bird; a mottled beetle with immensely long antennae that perched on my sweater like a brooch; a shallow fast river seething between rocks and rippling smoothly where its passage widened; mountains so tall the sun was only visible between 10 am and 5:30 pm, but the valley well-lit by reflected sunlight from 5:30 am to 9 pm, lighting one mountain up with green and shadow in the morning, and the next lit gold and brown in the evening.
The sky was clear until Sunday afternoon, and the night sky was black and thick with stars. I saw the Milky Way more clearly than I have since we lived in Sooke, and constellations I'd nearly forgotten (their names I have forgotten). I was reading Privilege of the Sword during the day, and became immensely jealous of Ellen Kushner for her description therein of the stars 'like spilled salt'. Because, yes.
The occasion of my being there was the Coronet Tourney of the Principality of Tir Righ, or rather, the Laurels meeting scheduled during, and the chance to spend time with two of my far-flung apprentices--one of whom will soon be my peer. Other socialising occurred, but it was a bonus and not planned.
Other than that, I had no commitments (did some gate early Sunday, since I'd be awake anyways) and spent several hours sitting beside the river, reading Kushner or the Memoirs of the Princess Lamballe, or staring at the moving water, sometimes wandering up and down looking at interesting rocks. I wish I knew more about rocks, specifically what the crumpled-looking ones were, and whether the red stains on some of the sedimentary rocks were part of them or left by the water more recently. I found a cracked stone that looked like quartz (and what Stephen identified as feldspar), and a smallish egg-shaped stone, pale grey and speckled with dark grey and small holes. (In June, at FRH, I found another holed stone, so thoroughly eaten through it looked like a petrified sponge.) Something pale and flapping, stuck under a rock and branch in the river, turned out to be part of a hide, probably deer from the bit I scraped out. I thought briefly of trying to salvage it for treating, but the small scrap already smelt bad, and I couldn't feature bringing it home through 4 hours drive and a ferry trip.

Saturday afternoon I was stung by a wasp, which had crawled under my hand where I was holding my mug of water. An odd sort of karma, since an hour or so earlier I'd rescued two wasps drowning in a mug of orange juice (more for the sake of an unwary drinker than for theirs, I admit). This happened to me once before, when I rescued a wasp from a spider's nest, and the same day was stung on the finger by a hornet(?) resting on the newspaper page I was turning. The hornet sting was dramatic, since there's not much room on the fingertip for swelling, so my hand swelled up past my wrist and hurt like blazes until I went to Emergency and had a shot in my rear.
The wasp sting was on my palm, between the forefinger and the second finger, and swelled up in the base joint of both fingers, then on the back of my hand, first over the knuckles, then down most of the way to the wrist. It's a measure, I think, of my adjustment to the arthritis that I watched this with considerably more interest than alarm. Hand swelling up, joints swollen and stiff, yeah, done that, hmm, blue mark on the side of the finger, what's that?
I'd probably have felt less equanimity if it had hurt anything like the hornet sting. MC convinced me to take a benadryl that night, when the swelling hadn't gone away, but it didn't go right down until Monday.
But definitely the last time I rescue a wasp.

So I wrote nothing. Monday wasn't very productive, because I was feeling vaguely sick and achey. However, I did read about the French court of the 18th c., and practiced knots, and knocked a couple of books off my to-be-read pile.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

drizzling and happy writey stuff

Reading up on 18th c. German society, I discovered something that may just have to go into the Willow Knot. A pastime of wellborn ladies, called parfilage, which at first I read as persiflage, but no, less wit required.
Parfilage, or in England, drizzling (I'm not making this up) was the pastime of unravelling gold braid, lace, or trim. Yes, really. Taking ornament apart. Now, I can see not wanting to waste gold thread, and unpicking or unravelling it seems a thrifty thing to do, akin to sides-to-middling sheets, a housewifely task my own mother performed. (If you're not familiar with that, it's exactly what it sounds like.) But as a courtly hobby? As something to fill one's days, up there with tambour-work and opus anglicanum?
Must be an exaggeration, I thought, and started looking for more references. Which I found. It does seem to have begun as an economy, with old-fashioned or worn uniforms and livery being refitted--cutting the buttons off and that sort of thing, and the remainder being given to charity/the poor. The braid could be unpicked, and the gold thread sold back to the goldsmith. Simple enough.
Somehow it was taken up by the nobility, in France and Austria, then in England (England is always a late adopter). Noble ladies were never without a bag to hold the unravelled braid, scissors, and a tool for unpicking. Court business and social gossip had a continual accompaniment of tsrr...tsrr...tsrr. (History of Needlework Tools and Accessories, Sylvia Groves, 1966)
Where did they get all the braid and lace? Aha, here's the meat of it. Gentlemen friends brought them old jackets and suchlike, as gifts. But the enthusiasm outran the supply of old clothes, and pretty soon the clever goldsmiths started making little figures and ornaments of galons that a gentleman could give to a lady for brief admiration followed by careful destruction.
"Sheep, dogs, squirrels, cradles, carriages in miniature, &c. were offered, admired, and then pulled to pieces for 'parfilage'. It afforded good opportunity for innumerable gallantries. A gentleman went to a masked ball in a costume purposely composed of cloth of gold and bullion, worth two hundred pounds, which he sent next day to a lady." (Lady Sarah Davison Nicolas, 1849)
A lady sufficiently flirtatious and industrious could reportedly earn 100 Louis d'or in a year. With apparently no damage to her reputation, either for the labour or the rapacity.
I'm not at all sure what I'm going to do with this, but it fits so clearly into the braiding / untying / knotting themes of Willow Knot that it must go somewhere in the court section.

In other news, I've found another way to make things difficult for Myl. She's been aware that she's vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft, or just nasty gossip, and today I figured out where that's going to happen and how. Yes. And how difficult it will be for her to confront or even track down.
A discussion on the book forum reminded me of the old belief that scratching a witch's face enough to draw blood would break her spell, and I think that's going to fit in nicely.
And last weekend, though I didn't get as much written as I'd hoped, I did figure out a way to up the drama of the scene where Alard has his last chance to catch Myl before she returns to the willow for good. Not only does he get to deal with the walking corpse of his queen (well, she's mostly dead) but Midame will be on the scene as well, and will probably try to prevent any reconciliation by whatever means she has access to.
More characters to keep track of in the room, but much better if she's there.

The awkward part is that I probably won't be home this weekend, although I have all sorts of bits to add to the story. I won't even be near an electrical outlet, most likely. The best I can do is to bring the research books I need and spend my spare time (which there will be hours of) reading what I didn't get to at Pennsic.

Presently reading: Blood and Ivory, by P.C. Hodgell, Meisha Merlin, 2002. I'm enjoying it, mostly because I like Hodgell's books, and I'm happy to read more of Jamethiel Priest's-Bane regardless. The stories so far are fairly slight, giving more depth to backstory already established in the series. It's for fans, and I'm a fan, so that works out nicely. It probably wouldn't appeal to someone who hadn't read the series, or to someone who wasn't also interested in how a writer develops a character. Jame has been with Hodgell since her teens or childhood, by the looks of it, and has gone through many settings and incarnations. I had a little thrill of confirmation to see that Tai-tastigon was intentionally a Fritz Leiber setting, because that's what I thought it was back when I first began reading.
As always, I'm vastly impressed that Jame escapes Mary Sue status. I don't quite know how, because I'm sure she'd score very high on the test. Perhaps because Hodgell is playing with the tropes, winding them until they snap?

Friday, September 7, 2007

fame, how fleeting, how bittersweet

So, that interview I posted about last month? It was in the Times-Colonist yesterday, rating two separate pages. People I work with have read it.
Mark's business name: Gaukler Medieval Wares, was spelt incorrectly and his url was not provided, perhaps because the story had mutated from a Business section story to a Life section story. The PARMA website was given, which is something, and Mark's already had a phone call from a hopeful novelist researching the latter part of the 14th c.
All in all, I'm relieved. The facts are mostly correct (I'm pretty sure I didn't say 'transporting' because it's not a word in my vocab. but that's minor) and the photograph chosen does not show us gazing moonily into each other's eyes. That would have amused our friends mightily. MC has already said that she'd frame one like that, and point to it as evidence that we really do love each other.
Posed, all posed, a put-up job if ever was.
The photo of Beth and Sarah is much cuter. I'm sure Sarah was fun to interview. She certainly provided some fine quotes.

But today's fame is tomorrow's fish&chip wrapper, and what a life lesson is there, eh?
I could do with some fish&chips, come to think of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

going under for the 3d time

Is that a recognisable reference any more? When I was a child it was supposed to be that drowning people went down 3 times, and the 3d time they didn't come up again. Cartoons had swimmers holding up one, two and three fingers as they succumbed, the last being the three fingers alone, slowly going under. I had a vague idea that rescue was only to be attempted on the 3d submersion.
But I ramble.
Done. Wrapped it up at 11:54 with 18,600 words by wordprocessor count, 98 pages in SMF. I'll post my progress wordcount later, after I've had some sleep. And dazed wondering where the story went, I'll post that too. It might be less dazed by then.

Next morning, FutureBarb entry:
Slept in until 6:30, probably because of putting up a new (darker) curtain in the bedroom. Breakfast, feeding of cat, watering of plants. Feet under the laptop by 7:45
break at 9:40 am for more tea - 12335 words
11:52 break for lunch - 13316
3:44 pm break for heated-up Chinese food - 14027
7:35 break for heated-up meat pie, cherry tomatoes from garden - 15120
Mark returns home somewhere in here, but tells me to keep typing and goes to have a shower
9:08 just checking - 16006
Oddly, this was my final wordcount at 11:45 pm last year. Two-and-a-half hours left to beat it!
11:06 just checking - 17668
11:54 call it quits and format to smf - 18570

Story stuff. The MPD aspect went west. Pearl is kinda crazy (think Emily Carr in later years) but not a multiple. She sees ghosts, goes to art school, falls in love/lust and out again, paints a series of ghost portraits that she becomes known for, falls into cranky dementia and does a landscape-with-crow-and-lost-child series as her last show while she's still holding it mostly together.
At story's end she wanders from the home looking for something, which turns out to be the lost girl, and the crow is looking for them both.
Is it good? Dunno. On the mechanical side, sentence construction, spelling etc. I'm usually okay, even when sleepy and stupid. Things happen in the story, and there are recurring themes and motifs, though some fall by the wayside and aren't really resolved. Pearl's first love affair is kind of scanted, but it may be better that way than fully explored and overbalancing the story.
The writing is less visual than in Fold, though Pearl's artist's eye gets some play, and there's some messing about with art jargon and thinking which medium would work better for which bit of scenery. The story is more rooted in the real world - Alberta farmland mostly - which means I did have to go and check a few things, like which art school she could have gone to, and the names of colours of pencil crayons. Which also slowed me down, of course.
I wasn't able to recover the straight-ahead don't-think altered state that I managed last year but this was a different challenge. The benefit this time is that I can probably edit and revise this one, where Fold has felt so all-of-a-piece I haven't really been able to crack it and tweak.

Today: printing it out and getting a statement (probably from Chris) that I wrote it all over the Labour Day weekend. And mailing.
Maybe next year I'll write an 18th c. epistolary novel with lots of abductions and duels and natural children and false confessions.