Wednesday, October 27, 2010

my tattoos

Brand new and still healing.

This is the labyrinth pattern I build with stones each year at Fort Rodd Hill. I wanted a human figure in the centre, like the female figure in the Sibbo wall-painting, but it wouldn't have been legible without making the labyrinth huge. So a dot, standing for me being midway (a labyrinth is a two-way journey, there and back)
Also, if I forget the pattern next year at Fort Rodd Hill, I can just ask someone to look at the back of my neck.

A jellyfish, on my right shoulder, for the phosphorescent ctenophora at Martha's Vineyard during Viable Paradise (yes I know this isn't a ctenophore, it's a moon jelly) and for my first pro-rate sale, which features flying jellyfish.
And VPX, for Viable Paradise Ten, my year and my tribe.

Garden in autumn

These are all photos that Mark took, and since I've been slack about posting this month, I'm taking the chance to show off his work.

Here are rosehips, from the rugosa in the front yard, I think. The gallica in the back still has a few blooms, or did until the winds last weekend, but the rosehips are making a fine display.
You can eat rosehips, just don't eat the hairy bit in the middle. Ptah!

Crocus! The kind that produces saffron--see the lovely yellow stamens? The bulbs were planted years ago, and only now do we have more than three showing up in a year.
Mark harvested the saffron and made saffron rice.

A white slug. I've never seen one all white before. I'm much more used to the small brown ones and the big banana slugs (childhood memories of stepping on a banana slug, and the slime making everything stick to one's bare foot afterwards).

It's rather beautiful in a slimy translucent way.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

clawing my way

from under a heap of apples, rather like James T. Kirk in the tribbles episode, only apples are hard and some of them have mushy bits or bug-bites.

Last weekend I was in the Interior, attending the Golden Swan event and spending time with Alis/Rajpal and Lucy, my most distant apprentices. Riding with me was Deirdre Greenwood, with whom I am in apprentice negotiations. This was the road-trip test, to see whether either of us had such annoying habits that the other would want to leave them behind at a rest area.
I am pleased to report that we both made it back to our respective homes. Though the last part of my trip makes for a long and convoluted story that can only be properly shared in person, and all I will say at present is that I am really surprised BC Ferries has apparently no provision at all for dealing with someone who falls ill during the trip. I mean, not even a place to lie down.
But I am back now, and mostly recovered. It has been a social month so far, with the spare bed not having a chance to be folded back up between Deirdre, Alis and Sitavati, and Stephen visiting, and that just at our place, not counting travels & socialising.

Me with three apprentices, in front of my little tent, Cawston BC.

The apple trees have taken advantage of my absence to start dropping fruit in earnest. We gave two buckets away, and I still have a sinkful to process into dehydrator loads and frozen crumbles. I'm missing the boy and his appetite for apple pies, since the freezer will only hold so many. I may have to start pushing frozen pies onto stray visitors: 'What do you mean you'll be on the road for 3 days? Look, I'll bake it for you, then you can just eat it on the way!'

Then there's deciding on an itinerary for the UK visit, booking b&bs, and figuring out how to pack for the very professional & businesslike World Fantasy Convention and also for hiking around the UK in the cold. Which I admit is a damn fine problem to have, and I'm not actually complaining, just noting what has my brainpower booked lately.

Do I have any writing-related thoughts? Yes, I think I do. As with other times that I've attended Golden Swan, which is a persona-development challenge (sometimes called competition, but since there can be several winners or none, it's not really competing), I notice that what makes a presentation of one's persona work is not so much the big-picture info-dumps, but the small details of the texture of one's life. Lucy did well with her entry, in part because she knew the layout of her home, the way down the stairs with the low beam, drawing water in the courtyard to wash. Another entrant did less well because she knew how 'male children' were taught, but could say nothing about her own son's education, whether he liked his tutor, what he learned quickly and what he was slow at.
The other thing I notice is that while those small, telling details are effective, they need to be researched, or you risk breaking the illusion with a mistake. Anne Rice broke the illusion in Cry To Heaven (for me) by having a character burn a parchment letter in a candle flame--I've worked with parchment, which is essentially fine, thin, smooth rawhide. Imagine burning a dog-chew and you see the problem. Similarly, an entrant this year presented an 11th or 12th century noblewoman and told us about her psalter, made by 'students' at the nearby priory. Um, no. Personal ownership of books is a watershed moment, and it comes at the earliest in the late 14th c. by which time books are being produced in secular workshops. She had, essentially, told me that she'd researched everyday life in the wrong century, and skimpily at that.
Ah well, pedantry: hobby, sport, or vocation?
Or just a relief from the burden of apples?

Monday, October 4, 2010

GoH gofer go!

Apparently I am both awesome and organised. How about that?
Back from VCon, where I set up the SF-Canada table, which was fiddly but not difficult, and followed Cherie Priest about, which was fun. I was unsure how officious and flunky-like to be, but she is among the least diva-like people imaginable, and by Sunday I was just waving as she went by and asking 'Need anything?'.
So, y'know, it was mostly a matter of not screwing up majorly, which I can often manage, though I did splash dumpling-filling over myself at the Shanghai River (which is a restaurant). Mark and Cherie ate a good deal of a rock cod, unfazed by its head and outspread fins.
Should I be chronological? Can I do that and still skip the boring bits?

Let's see.
Thursday: I packed like mad. Took 1pm sailing to Tswawassen, then bus and skytrain to Richmond. Walked to the Marriott. Found VCon people, found that Cherie had been safely picked up and was sleeping in her room. Helped carry stuff to art room. Helped carry stuff to hospitality. Went off with Michael Walsh (the man with the Daffy Duck tie) to haul stuff from their place to hospitality. Hung about in lobby waiting for people to show up. Introduced Dave Duncan & Cherie Priest to each other. Went for dinner at the Mad Greek with guests of honour and concom (this for being liaison/gofer for a GoH). Cherie Priest and Heather Dale are good raconteurs (raconteuses?) and Cherie told ghost stories plus amusing stories of personal injuries.
Returned to hotel, found husband setting up his tables, in midst of considerable confusion over how all the dealers tables would fit in the room and question of whether hotel was really going to supply the tables originally requested (request having been lost and hotel disclaiming knowledge). Situation not aided by dealer coordinator walking off with one and only layout map several times. I am encouraged to take one of the tables and set up, so as to be harder to dislodge. Do so. This works, although table is several times moved, finally squashed into corner which does have advantage of providing vertical visibility for SF-Canada banner. Books are brought, accumulating to a lively display. Every single one of the plate-stand book-stand thingies that I bought and that Mark lent me is eventually used, as is every one of the DISPLAY COPY slips that I printed out. About 1/3 of the table is dedicated to display copies, with notes about where they can be purchased at the con.
Friday: more setup of table, and rearrangement as it is moved. Registration is having trouble connecting and setting up. I make roughly calligraphed signs saying PRE-REG and REGISTRATION but wickedly do not bother to pick up my registration packet until much later when the computer setup is mostly working and the nasty big pre-reg line has died down.
Registration is supposed to have Cherie's schedule, but cannot find it in the database. I borrow Johanna-the-lovely-Media-lady's programme book and mark all of Cherie's panels in the pocket program, then deliver a marked copy to Cherie. Later I meet Pauline who has a thumb-drive with the schedule in it. She gives me printouts and a tent-card to deliver. Do so. Run into Dave Duncan who is off to dentist to have tooth glued back in.
Attend opening ceremonies possibly first time in years. Go for dinner at Shanghai River with GoH and own husband. Terrifying tales of book launches and book fairs. Attend Heather Dale concert.
Saturday: breakfast at hotel's buffet, mostly okay. Knock on Cherie's door to find her working on article for Subterranean. She comes for breakfast and chat. Terrifying tales of deadlines. In between table duty and rearranging books as more arrive, and hearing rumours that Chris and Shannon are on site, I attend You Suck! No, You Suck! panel on workshops; GoH interview; How Did That Get on My Cover?; Draw Me This!; and am invited onto the Vampire panel by Sandra Wickham, which is very flattering. Finally find Chris and Shannon at that panel. Mark, Chris, Shannon and I go for a family dinner at No. 9 restaurant. SF Canada party and bed, in that order.
Sunday: breakfast at hotel buffet. Check schedule with Cherie, who now knows her way around the hotel better than I do. Final bids on art show (trying for another of Danielle's cool little shadow boxes). Make it to panel I really want to attend - History is my Playground. Pretty good. Book takedown and packing, pick up art show wins, sneak some time at Turkey Readings, yay!

Clever things I did: asked my niece Piper to cat-and-house-sit.
Found two small red tablecloths, so I could put one at each end of the SFC table, with the white cloth in between suggesting the Canadian flag, PLUS the two contrasting colours meant a book could always be put on a surface that let it stand out (yes, I totally planned this, and it had nothing to do with the first two tablecloths I pulled out of my someday-I'll-paint-this box. Nothing.)
Married a man who would lend me almost a dozen stands for books so they could be visible from a distance.
Asked my BNF friend Betty about the duties of a gofer.
Made up flyers with text swiped from the SFC website.
Went to bed by midnight each night.
Got almost all the money and leftover books back to someone responsible by the end of the con--except for those needing to be mailed, which remain with me.

There was a multi-author book launch Friday, in a room with rather definite acoustics. And just for Terri, here's a little film of one table, with Dave Duncan and other members of SF-Canada:

Lately, as my regular readers will expect, I have been beset by apples (which as a phrase is very nearly a googlewhack), to add to which I inexplicably brought home two large buckets of apples from my brother's trees. So, I've been processing apples to make apple crumbles, and when I have sixteen or so in the freezer I'll move on to pies. I'm feeling somewhat paranoid about getting done with the apples, since I'll be away for very nearly 3 weeks from the end of October, when they'll be dropping like mad.
Which is to say that I've been processing apples most nights, interspersed with packing up stuff for a sales-and-display table at VCon, trying for 600 words minimum each morning (which seems to be my comfortable rate for an hour's work). And trying not to worry about prep for the trip to Golden Swan, or about how to pack for both World Fantasy and hiking about in the UK in the rain.
Which is to say that I probably could have been more organised, but things went reasonably well nonetheless.