Monthly Archives: September 2008

What I Read This September

Shakespeare’s Spy by Gary Blackwood
Shakespeare’s Scribe by Gary Blackwood
Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Beautiful City of the Dead by Leander Watts
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride by Helen Halstead
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Dingo by Charles de Lint
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Sorcery and the Single Girl by Mindy Klasky

Let’s see, what did I say about them over the month…

I finished Anathem last night, a brilliant philosophical story that reminded me a lot of the discussions we used to have after classes at the Liberal Arts College. And on Saturday I read the entirety of Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride, a book I obtained for review through MiniBookExpo. Best Austen sequel I’ve ever read.

Finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last night. Would have been life-changing had I not just read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

I might be the only person I know of, or at least within three degrees of separation, who geeked out in absolute excitement over receiving my secondhand copy of the out-of-print Women Musicians of Venice: Musical Foundations, 1525-1855. Gods bless Jane Baldauf-Berdes for writing exactly the book that I needed, fifteen years before I knew that I did. I devoured Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps and Last Days in an afternoon and evening, and will cheerfully lend them out to anyone looking for a decent and believable vampire story for teens. Ceri lent me her copy of Charles de Lint’s Dingo, which I also read in an hour and a half. I also finished Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma this weekend, and it was excellent. I looked for The Botany of Desire in the bookstore Sunday morning but of course it wasn’t in stock; if I’d wanted In Defense of Food I could have had one of twenty-three hardcover copies, but I wanted Botany. I don’t try to be difficult, really.

Orchestrated Update

New words today: 2,317
Total word count, Orchestrated: 16,963

Oh, the best friend is concerned about the protagonist and is willing to call her on it. So she does have something to do other than be useful post-first crisis. Who’d have known?

I like it when characters do things I didn’t plan for them to do. Helps develop depth that I can mine later.

Orchestrated Update

New words today: 4,035
Total word count, Orchestrated: 14,646

You see? This is what I can do when I walk away from the Internet-enabled desktop and work on the borrowed iBook in the living room.

Worked some plot-advancement stuff, character stuff, something like five new scenes, and OMG bang there we are at the next major plot upset that forces the protagonist to prepare for battle.

I feel really, really good. And I swear I just opened the file thinking, All I have to do is five hundred words. Five hundred words now, maybe five hundred words later, and that will be a thousand, and that’s good for the day. Except two hours and a half later, there are four thousand new words, and eep.

Ye gods. Things are a quarter of the way along. Where’s a word meter? I need a word meter for this entry.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
14,646 / 60,000

Hello Monday!

Not dead — just busy having a fabulous weekend.

Friday was entirely consumed by the freelance evaluation I wanted done by noon. It wasn’t. It was a tricky one to handle because of the subject matter. We had homemade pizza for dinner (which has now officially become the Friday night meal in our household, because our homemade pizza is yum), which went over very well.

Saturday morning we dawdled for while over coffee/tea/trains, then headed out to try to pick up various necessities. This was foiled by the store advertising an item we’d intended to pick up as a Christmas gift for someone being out of stock of said item, so we moved on to get the rest of the list. We wrapped the morning up by taking the boy out for a hot dog lunch at a local La Belle Province (because we have become highly disillusioned with the quality of food produced by our local Lafleur‘s), where we ate in a booth with sparkly vinyl benches and chrome fixtures. The boy approved. We were very happy with the flavour of everything, and so our allegiance has shifted (at least between these two local franchises). While the boy napped I managed to get half an hour of work on the runs in the final movement of the Haydn symphony done. (Official state of stun: I practiced on the weekend.)

The local grandparents came over Saturday after the boy’s nap to stay with him for the evening. HRH and I went out to our favourite sushi restaurant for our anniversary dinner, a treat afforded by my mother’s generosity. We hadn’t been there in three years, but nothing has changed: same jazz CDs, same decor, same delicious everything. We ordered a very ambitious and enthusiastic amount of sushi, and ate most of it, too, earning the amused approval of the chef who’d assembled it for us. We boxed up the remaining sushi and maki and brought them as our buffet offering to the fifth annual Tarasmas event!

I have written about Tarasmas before (notably here and here) so I won’t rehash the explanation of the event other than to say that in a glorious turnaround of the birthday gifting tradition, t! throws a party that revolves around a series of one-act plays he writes for the event, to be performed by the partygoers who get their scripts around fifteen minutes before they go on. Tarasmas 2008 featured a medieval comedy replete with puns, a Western ( “I was just trying to kill you to get your attention”), and an old-fashioned melodrama that required traditional audience participation (in which zombie chickens made a special musical appearance). This year I got to play the heroine of the melodrama, which was, like the previous two plays, hilarious. Tarasmas is a great opportunity to appreciate clever writing, t!’s genius in assigning roles to people (to either draw them out, play against type, or play to their strengths) and to enthusiastically abandon oneself to laughter and cheering. It’s not about performing well; it’s about fiftyish people participating together and sharing the experience, either as performer or audience member. It’s truly a group effort, with t! as ringmaster. Every year just gets better and better.

I’d been looking forward to Tarasmas for days because I knew I’d see lots of people I hadn’t seen in a while, and have tons of fun. And I met new people, too, and had lovely conversations with them. I got to try Ceri’s new Aspire One, which was very adorable but just too small for me. Now that I’ve tried it properly I have laid to rest the excited-writer-coveting-new-toy part of me that had been dying for one of these mini-notebooks since they were released a couple of months ago. It’s good to know the secondhand iBook route I’ve been exploring is the better option for me.

I didn’t take my medication until I got home (and a good thing, really, because if I took it at the regular time I wouldn’t have been able to make it all the way to the end of Tarasmas and the final play, which would have been somewhat problematic as I was in it) and so I didn’t fall asleep until somewhere around two-thirty. Consequently I didn’t wake up until sometime after nine the following morning. But once I was awake, Sunday was lovely. We headed out for groceries and wine because my mother and her sister were stopping by for dinner on their way to start their lovely driving tour through the Eastern Townships. I haven’t seen my aunt in about six years, and seeing my mother any time is great. I decided to make some sort of approximation of the delicious chicken-Brie puff pastry thing I’d had when we went out to dinner with Brendan in Old Montreal this past summer, and wow, did I ever succeed! It’s always slightly unnerving to make a dish you’ve never prepared before for guests, but this was a terrific success. I served it with a simple salad of baby lettuces and parsley in a sesame oil-rice vinegar dressing. (Yes, yes, I will post it on the Recipe Trade forthwith.) We’d given the boy the responsibility of deciding on a dessert, which meant it was ice cream (although I had a local ice cider to offer as well as an after-dinner sweet). It was a lovely, lovely evening and I wish I could do things like that with my family more often. My aunt told us we had to come down to stay at the cottage in Mahone Bay next summer, as HRH has an entire month off, and we accepted her offer. It’s been six years since I’ve been back to the Maritimes, and I miss it. It will be a lot of fun to introduce the boy to wading in the ocean, picking periwinkles and seaweed, and chasing crabs. And mussels. Oh gods, yes, the mussels. By the potful.

Took my medication on time but couldn’t fall asleep till one AM anyhow. Nevertheless, I woke up at 6:30 when the boy pattered into the bedroom saying that he needed to go to the bathroom, and spent a pleasant hour with the boys before they headed out to school. I expected to have a new freelance assignment this morning but it seems that the one I handed in on Friday afternoon hasn’t been processed yet. So I have some time to catch up on news and such and maybe whack out a few words in a file somewhere.

The weekend was so wonderful that not even the very grey day outside my window can bring me down.

I Can Has Cello Lessons!

Starting after Thanksgiving, in fact (which means in three weeks, where did the year go?) and at a surprisingly low fee too. The same hour-long lesson fee I first paid when I started lessons fifteen years ago, actually. That particular lesson fee went up every year until I was paying 30% more in my fourth and final year of lessons. I expected this lesson fee to be somewhat equivalent to the last fee I paid, or to be even higher to reflect the natural economic inflation of ten or so years. I am, of course, very thankful that it’s not bank-breaking, but still, I am astonished at how affordable it is.

I have already been informed that we have a Christmas concert in mid-December. And I’m okay with that. (Wow. Thank you, Random Colour.) Plus there will be a group lesson once a month! I think that’s really neat.

Now I need to sit down and think about my goals so that I can articulate them to my teacher when the time comes, because I’m certain she will ask. Things like becoming more familiar with the geography of the finger board, a more solid foundation in theory (or any foundation at all… it’s embarrassing when a conductor starts using solfege terminology and I, er, can’t follow it *cough* *cough*), intonation… I’m sure there will be more that come to mind. (A better bow hold, more efficient left hand movement, oh, the list will go on… and this sounds like a letter to Santa. Dear Santa, please bring me a better understanding of A flat major and D flat major, an accurate thumb position, and a better vibrato with my fourth finger. Love, Autumn.)

Right; off to work on the iBook away from the siren song of the Internet and e-mail. I’ve been dragging my feet about this evaluation because it’s a rather angry memoir about alleged racial discrimination within a minority religious group. The tone makes makes for uncomfortable reading. I’m trying to see it as a good way to keep my time spent on it focused and brief instead of being overly thorough, as I usually am. I want it done today so I can polish the report and send it off tomorrow by noon, freeing me up to work on Orchestrated in the afternoon.


On this day nine years ago, in the company of family and dear chosen family on a spectacular autumn day, I married my best friend.

Today also marks the eleventh anniversary of HRH and I doing our first road trip together, one of the joys I have continued to experience with him throughout our marriage.

As for this year’s cool gift, I bought him a stunning hand-forged ritual knife from Helmut at the Hamilton PPD festival, the blade done in Odin’s Eye damascene steel and the handle made of antler from Manitoba. (He bought me a tiny knife with a handle in African blackwood and the guard in bone. True love in this household means gifting your spouse with a blade. Or a new gaming console.)

Ten years next year. I find it really hard to wrap my mind around that. We’ll have spent a quarter of our lives together.

This past year hasn’t been easy; in fact, I think we could safely mark it as the Worst Ever (and we’d survived some pretty depressing setbacks already). But there’s no one else I’d rather have spent it with. By hanging on and working together we’ve managed to turn things around so that now we’re looking at quite possibly one of the best years yet. And we have so many more years together ahead of us to just keep making them better. Thanks, HRH.

New Music

I’ve just sorted through all the new music we got last week at orchestra, and here’s what we’ll be playing in the fall concert:

Symphony no. 104 (“London”) – Haydn
Iphegenia in Aulis ouverture – Christoph Gluck
Divertimento in C major KV 157 – Mozart
Adagio for Clarinet and Strings – Wagner

There’s something else to come, too.

The projected date for that concert is November 22. Mark you calendars now, but in pencil, just in case. When that date has been confirmed I’ll tell you.