Monthly Archives: January 2008

What I Read This January

Tarot Cafe vol. 1 by Sang-Sun Park
Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt
Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz
Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn
Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer
Dust by Elizabeth Bear
Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature by Linda Lear
You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop by John Scalzi
The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Notes for Posterity:

Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature by Linda Lear: I wax rhapsodic over this book! Lovely! Even the two chapters on mycology, which gave me more general knowledge and detail about fungus than I ever wanted to know! Potter is one of my heroes, so this three-inch-thick hardcover was such a joy to read. An excellent, well-balanced biography.

Dust by Elizabeth Bear: I enjoyed this so darn much. I’m mildly curious as to why I enjoyed it more than Bear’s Promethean Age books, for as a general rule I prefer reading stories with Elizabethan poets, faerie, and ceremonial magic in them to space opera/generation ship sagas. The characters were just so well-crafted, though, and I liked how a lot of the story was implied but not actually told, leaving the reader to be a really active participant in constructing the narrative. Also, it features really cool concepts of deity and of how lore gets encoded in day to day life over millennia within a closed system. And somehow, while Bear implies a lot, she still manages to convey a remarkably rich atmosphere. I’m in awe of how Bear can leap from genre to genre and write so well in all of them.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor: Another book where I chose a bad place to stop, early on in the book. When I eventually picked it up and read past that point, it was excellent. I should buy the second one.

Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt: I read this in a hour and a half, and was left feeling as if there was three-quarters of the book missing. Now, I understand that the book is deliberately impressionist in that it’s a narrative that traces the different instruments Steinhardt has owned and one particular piece of music he has a special relationship with, but there was just enough context given that I felt there were gaping autobiographical lacunae. There was a lot of time devoted to covering certain events, and others glossed over or left out and yet still referred to later.

Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz: Thanks to my fibro-fog I bought this thinking it was a stand-alone or first in a trilogy, then read it and realized that it was a second volume in a trilogy. And what is referred to as having happened in the first volume was vaguely recognizable, but I can’t find the book on my shelves, and now I don’t know if I actually read it at some point or if my brain is obligingly filling in the gaps with trowelfuls of imagination. (Checking my Past Read list, I see that I did in fact read it exactly two years ago, so why I can’t find the book is a mystery.)

Tarot Cafe by Sang-Sun Park: This was a ‘hey, whatever’ buy through a remainder shop, purchased because buying three books there was equivalent to buying one new, and I’d read a decent review of it somewhere. If I was into emo stories told with Bambi-eyed characters (all of them — every single one) I would have enjoyed it a lot more. As it was I was left wishing the whole thing was a lot grittier and less pretty. The concept is great — gifted Goth tarot reader reads the stories of her clients, who are all otherwordly in some way — but the prettiness is cloying. I’d like to see what Neil Gaiman would do with the concept.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: A solid YA retelling of the Winter/Summer kings/queens in faerie theme. Not derivative, thank goodness, and has some very well-drawn characters whose actions are believable. I’ll look for the second one when it’s released.

Hearthcraft Book Update

Total word count, hearthcraft book: 23,001
New words today: 1,168

Close to the original magic number of 1,200, although far from the 1,600 I’m now using as my daily goal, and even further from the 2K I was secretly hoping to hit today to really get me going again. I’m very fortunate that the boy’s caregiver can take him an extra day every two weeks, giving me three days in a row to work twice a month.

Still: over 23K. That’s good, that’s good. There’s a world of difference between being one-third done at 20K, and half-done at 30K.

It’s been ages since I’ve had to teach anyone about wards. Gah. All my words on the subject are mysteriously AWOL and I’m left kind of waving my hand in the air at the monitor, saying, “You know, it’s like, well, that.” The fibro-fog I’ve been working in doesn’t help. An article I was reading on fibro today politely called it ‘impaired concentration/comprehension’, which is a very nice way of saying ‘I’m out of it and can’t keep track of a thought for more than a moment or two’. I’m told it takes about a week to get used to the medication that I begin taking tonight. I’m really, really hoping my brain sharpens up after that period of adjustment and I’m back to where I need to be.

The Day So Far

I have been geeking out over a scan of a hand-marked Vaughan-Williams score used by Stokowski, scribbled upon with red-pencilled notes after discussion with the composer. And I thought I marked my music up!

I think I may be one of the only people I know who isn’t sick of winter yet. Not that I want it to hang around; it just seems that others have reached the fed-up point much sooner than I have. Although looking at past history, I’m due for that ‘c’est assez!’ moment any day now.

I picked up my first month of medication this morning and laughed very hard at the $7.99 price tag. And to think we were worried! Since I got home I have been working on rituals and such (and rhapsodising over the Vaughan-Williams score, of course). I’m going to get up and stretch, then move into the hearthcraft book and pray that I connect with whatever it is I end up writing about today.

I am still very much enjoying buying gifts for people. I can’t do it for everyone, of course, otherwise I’d very quickly be in the ‘zounds where will we get the money to eat’ position again. But there are couple of people who have had positive impact on my state of mind and spirit this past year, and perfect things for them have been popping up in my path. I’ve also ordered some books on fibro for myself. I might as well learn as much as I can about it, as we may be living together for quite some time.

I’ve even eaten lunch already. Two meals before ten-thirty! And when this loaf of bread has finished baking, I will have yet another meal of fresh bread and roast beef and cheese!

This is what a pretty darn good day looks like. Except…

How am I supposed to work under such conditions?

Hearthcraft Book Update

Less than a thousand words today. I wish I could settle into this. I haven’t found my stride yet and I spend too much time trying to figure out what and how to do something.

But: Mailbox joy in the form of payment for my test evaluation for that ongoing freelance gig, much sooner than expected. Hurrah! I’ll watch the exchange rates this week and see if I can make an extra dollar or two on it. It’s the principle of the thing.

Le News

I had my follow-up with the doctor this morning. As a not-quite-aside, I am thankful that today’s weather with rain/snow/60 to 90 kph winds is indeed today’s weather and not yesterday’s, because I can just imagine how impossible it would have been to get the boy home from across town in this. The cold is biting, the additional gusts on top of the steady high-level wind are aggressive and dangerous, and rain on top of flash-frozen ice is No Fun. Anyway, I made it to the doctor’s office in one piece although late, which was fine because she was running late too.

My blood test results (and there were pages and pages to go through) were all lovely and normal. My calcium and magnesium were a touch below what she wanted them to be, but my multivitamin is covering that. The rheumatoid and other arthritis indicators all came back negative, so the diagnosis has settled on fibromyalgia. I have a prescription for a minute dose of medication to take daily, another appointment in three weeks to see how it’s going, and permission to slow down and stop thinking of myself as somehow failing at what I’m trying to keep up with. The optimistic view, which we are taking, is that six months to a year should help the body recover some sort of equilibrium, and then we will re-evaluate and either taper off the meds to see what happens, or keep on with them.

So there you have it. Thanks, everyone, for your good thoughts and wishes that have been coming my way; I truly appreciate them.