Monthly Archives: December 2006

What I Read This December

Whitethorn Wood by Maeve Binchy
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide by Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling
Spider Dance by Carole Nelson Douglas
The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (reread)
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Points For Breathing

I keep thinking there ought to be something important to post, but there isn’t.

We went out and got new fish for Liam’s aquarium today, as the last set died off over the past four months. I must stop flirting with birds and patting kittens in pet shops.

People coming over this afternoon, possibly. We’ll find out when/if they arrive.

I finished The Boleyn Inheritance in a day and a half. I’m enjoying reading instead of working this week. I’d forgotten what it’s like to just devour books. Particularly books not connected to something I’m writing myself, which qualify as “work books”.

I’m struggling with the end of the calendar year approaching and feeling as if I’ve accomplished nothing in 2006, which is a load of codswallop because I wrote a book, mothered a toddler, wrote parts of two other books, saw my third book published, created a new website, performed the marriage ceremony for two of my dearest friends, and performed in five concerts of various types. I read a lot, and researched a lot. I did a lot, but I don’t feel as if I accomplished a lot, which leads me wonder what I’d quantify as an “accomplishment” these days.

There’s more to this thought, but I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to publically post the rest of it. It needs more rumination and work, and while what I’ve written out is plain and true, it doesn’t sound very bright or optimistic. But then, recognising non-beneficial things and planning non-popular change rarely sounds perky or celebratory.

Swan Sister Update

I’ve had a remarkably good afternoon.

Total word count, Swan Sister: 22,525
New words today: 1,985

I finally got past the Major Thing that had to happen in order to get the rest of the book going. There’s another plot point that has to happen directly afterwards, but at least now everyone’s in the right place (geographically and character-wise) for it to occur. It’s going to need rewriting later because it’s all over the place, but now there’s something down that makes sense to my characters and to the story as a whole. Plus I have the added bonus of knowing exactly what happens next when I sit down to write.

It feels so good to not only be working on this again, but to have written through the Big Obstacle that has been lurking there since July. (Not that I’ve really had the time or headspace to work on it, what with ESTC and being ambushed by YA historical fiction. But still.)

Using The Force For Good, Not Evil

With things like this happening, if I were Jo Rowling I’d find myself hard-pressed to resist the urge to completely skebard everyone’s expectations by writing something totally unexpected. Alas, unexpected would also mean inconsistent with the way the series has been heading, and being untrue to the story.

But it would be really, really hard to resist the temptation. I’m just saying, that’s all.

Under The Wrapping

I’ve never been a big fan of the crazed mindset that seems to settle in around this time of year. Like Samhain, Yule is a time for quiet and reflection in my life. I get uncomfortable with lots of consumerism and fevered must-make-this-the-best-Christmas-ever sort of thing. I like quiet; I dislike stress and noise and crowds. Fortunately my husband and son seem to think along the same lines, and I’m fairly certain our parents are thankful for the moderation as well. Christmas is about being together and giving thanks for your blessings. (And I don’t have a problem calling it Christmas either, because it’s a celebration of family and prosperity and thanksgiving for us all, no matter what your spiritual path, and this season encompasses a good two weeks of various cultural/religious festivals.)

That being said, we were blessed several times over this Christmas day. Not only were my parents in town to spend two days with us, but HRH’s parents spent the 25th with us as well. There are new clothes for everyone in this house, and new books, and gift certificates, and lots of lovely chocolate. Under all that wrapping was a lot of joy and love, both on the part of the givers and the receivers, and that’s what Christmas is about for me.

Everyone who felt it necessary to give Liam a present gave him wonderful things with which to play or wear. So much so, in fact, that over half the toys have been put away to hand out one by one on rainy days — including, I must add, the Fisher-Price garage that was the main gift from HRH and myself. We never even brought it upstairs to put it under the tree. When he woke up we showed him the stocking that Santa had hung on his doorknob. He dragged it around for a while before dropping it in the middle of the living room floor while HRH and I had our morning coffee and tea. When we showed him that there were things inside he was fascinated. And the best thing that came out of it was a pair of socks with Lightning McQueen on them. (Yes, socks; I kid you not.) He walked around with them for a while before he brought them to me to put them on his feet, and then he’d stop randomly during the morning to bend over, pull up a pant leg, touch the graphic with wonder and say “car”. The socks beat out the magnetic drawing board and the ball, but were only narrow winners over the clementine orange.

Once everyone had arrived we all had more fun watching Liam open and play with his gifts than anything else, I think; we all tended to sit there with unopened gifts on our laps and watch him explore whatever he had last opened, because he did so with such pleasure and such focus. The two big gifts from the grandparents were the Fisher-Price pirate ship from the local set (which gave us the perfect opening to demonstrate some of that impressive lexicon: “What does a pirate say, Liam?” “Arrrrr!”), and an Indigo-Chapters Thomas the Tank Engine wooden track and train starter set from the Ontario grandparents (which has an exclusive little book boxcar that Liam has been carrying around all day today). The boy was wonderfully well-behaved all Christmas day, playing nicely with everyone, eating well enough with all the distraction, napping at and for the usual time, and staying fairly on schedule despite the company and out of the ordinary activity. He readily ate scraps of turkey from his Nana’s hand while HRH carved it, but when we all sat down he only ate a few bites of peas and potatoes and turkey before asking for pasta with gravy on it, then a cracker with gravy. And he ate an entire butter tart for dessert; my mother made special smaller ones with currants in them for him.

With Nigella as my co-pilot again, dinner was excellent. Next year I will cold-brine the turkey first thing in the morning and not overnight, because while it was tender and tasted lovely I found it had a bit of saline sharpness to it, although that didn’t seem to slow anyone else down. (It reheats splendidly, though.) My mother-in-law brought her delicious mashed potatoes, and my mother brought tins and tins of Christmas baking for dessert, and both of them brought seafood-based hors d’oeuvres. And everyone brought wine.

The only downside to the day was the lack of snow, and even that was remedied by this morning when I opened the curtains to find a steady, silent fall of thick fluffy flakes. (Well, HRH consecrating the new incredible carving knife we got as a gift by slicing right through a turkey bone and into his thumb was a bit of a downer too. “I’ve never seen a carving knife go right through a turkey bone,” he said in amazement as he held his thumb under cold water.)

It was a lovely day. It was wonderful to work in the kitchen and hear all four grandparents playing with Liam in the next room. Now that he’s older and travelling with him isn’t as much of a production, I’ve resolved to travel down to TO more often so that he can play with his Nana and Grandad more than a handful of times per year.

The unavoidable squeeing: I got books! I got the new Thomas Pynchon, and The Constant Princess, and the new Juliet Marillier! Liam gave me white gold hoop earrings, and HRH gave me pearl and diamond stud earrings that match the pendant he gave me last year! I got lovely, lovely clothes, and warm fuzzy chenille socks, and suede gloves, and a new red leather wallet to match my red shoes! < /squeeing>

Kino Kid, a friend whom I dearly love, has created a meme associated with the holiday season that is worthy of propogation, so take this and spread it far and wide.

A few of my favourite things:

The holidays are a time of positive and negative feelings, and some in between. Try to banish the negative ones. Write five positive, personal associations you have with the holiday season. A word will do – no more than one line each.

I enjoy the holiday season for these reasons:

1. People finally make time to sit down with friends and just enjoy their company. (Yes, it ought to happen more often; no, it rarely does. If the holiday season gives us a reason to finally *make* the time, then that’s a good thing.)

2. Watching people be happy about generosity, genuinely appreciating giving and receiving without obligation. (I think this is something some people never understand. You don’t have to gift someone, not even if they gift you. Gifting is about choosing to do it for the sake of doing something nice for someone else, no strings attached. For example, people were very thoughtful and generous to Liam this year, and I know they did it because they wanted to. We certainly didn’t expect them to!)

3. Seeing family I don’t get to see as often as I would like.

4. Creating joy and wonder for little ones.

5. Chocolate. (HRH gives all his Christmas chocolate to me. Isn’t he sweet?)

And the bonus association (yes, not only can I not keep it down to a single word or sentence, I have to add another slot):

6. Snow. (It gets on my nerves by mid-January, but in December I love it for the peace and cosiness it fosters.)

I keeled over asleep around four this afternoon and had an hour-long nap, and now I’m awake instead of sleepy. I intended to have a bath and then go to bed early but I lost track of time. And there was sushi, so I’m not competely to blame.

I’m off to bed to read until I fall asleep. I’m already a third of the way through The Constant Princess. I think it’s too late for a bath, although I reserve the right to change my mind between here and the bedroom.


The MD recorder I bought is not, after all, Hi-MD. I thought it was. I must have mixed up all the reviews I read at the same time. This means that I can’t transfer a recording to the computer to burn it to CD.


This is not the end of the world; it just means I have to find an alternate way of recording a orchestra concert so that my grandmother can finally hear one. (Not that any of you talk to her, but this will eventually part of her birthday surprise, so no spoilers.) ADZO mentioned a method of doing this with equipment he owns a month ago, so I will look into that. In the meantime, sixty dollars for a used minidisc recorder that will help me work out musical lines for songs and practice is pretty darn good, and that was the primary purchase goal, so it’s all still fine; just not as ideal as it could have been.

In other news, HRH and I made an informal list of Liam’s words today and the lexicon is currently clocking in at around fifty, with three to five new ones being added daily (today we thought he said “Liam” but he didn’t repeat it before zooming off to the next event on his to-do list, so we’ll be listening for that one). HRH also made him a playhouse out of boxes today, and the boy dashes in and out of it with much enthusiasm. He closes the door very firmly behind him once he’s in too, in a very “I want to be alone!” sort of way, effect of which is rather ruined by the incessant giggling that comes from inside. This follows the tent we built in his room a couple of days ago by draping a length of fabric (the sea turtle print Ceri picked up over a year ago) over his quilt rack, the bureau, and tied to the doorknob. He sat inside it and giggled, used his keys to “open” the “door”, crawled out, dashed around to the quilt rack and climbed in the “window” over and over. I fit inside that one, but I don’t fit inside the one HRH made today. So after Liam went to bed, HRH built an extension for the box playhouse. It’s really wonderful, and I can’t wait to see Liam’s reaction to it tomorrow.

My parents arrive in town tomorrow, too. Liam will be over the moon, I’m sure.

(I posted the Solstice sunrise photo to the appropriate entry, too.)