Monthly Archives: July 2009

What I Read in July 2009

The Spinner’s Companion by Bobbie Irwin
The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece by Eric Siblin
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi
Making an Elephant by Graham Swift
Seven for a Secret by Elizabeth Bear
Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Angel: After the Fall vol. 1 by Whedon et al.
Angel: After the Fall vol. 2: First Night by Whedon et al.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen with editing and additions by Seth Grahame-Smith
Buffy: Omnibus vol. 2 by Whedon et al.
Buffy: Omnibus vol. 1 by Whedon et al.
Joy of Spinning by Marilyn Kluger
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
Spook Country by William Gibson
Sorceress by Celia Rees
Witch Child by Celia Rees
Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs
Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs

Last-Minute Thoughts

Hmm. I wonder if I can sneak the cello into the car to take on the trip to Nova Scotia. Playing on the deck overlooking the islands of Indian Point, at dawn or sunset, with the sound of the waves rippling on the stony beach and the birds flying overhead? Yes, please.

Somebody would probably notice the lack of room in the trunk for things like duffel bags of clothes, though.

Good things that happened today: I got lovely positive feedback from the client about the PhD thesis proposal that I edited, and his thanks for a great job. I charged him my lowest rate, because I know what it’s like to be a student. I hope he contacts me when it’s time to edit his thesis.

Less than good things: Today was yet another exercise in frustration as regards the library. I left to go downtown, and remembered only after I’d gotten on the bus that I needed two pieces of ID and couldn’t remember if both needed my address on them or not. Rather than risk getting there and having to come back home empty-handed, I got off the bus a few blocks along and walked home to get a utility bill. (Walking; brilliant plan. Wasn’t that what killed me on Wednesday?) And on the way, I tripped (in flats, on a level surface, I give up) and wrenched my left ankle. So by the time I got home I was frustrated and exhausted and in pain, and gave up. The fibro wins this week; I don’t care. I could have gone out and done it all over again, but it would have taken even more out of me and I was already running on low reserves thanks to what I’d done earlier in the week. If I’d done it I would have ruined the next few days, which are set to be challenging already (long car trips and the fibro do not agree with one another). So I asked HRH if he’d take me downtown when he got home, which turned out to be a much better plan. I am duly impressed with the size and selection at the Bibliotheque nationale. I was also impressed at the twenty-minute lineup to get a card, and the ten-minute lineup to borrow books. Over 10,000 people use the library daily, the documentation says, which gives me renewed hope in the future of humanity. Also, I have my spinning books, although the book on Baroque cello revival that I wanted wasn’t on the shelf, although the catalogue insisted that it was available. I’ll have to ask at the desk next time.

The irony? My driver’s license was accepted as both proof of identity and proof of residency. Two in one.

Today is, I think, the first time I really, truly hated the fibro. Before I’ve always been understanding or chagrined that I didn’t manage my resources well enough. But today, I hated it with savage resentment. Why was this week different? Not that fibro needs a reason to act up; I know that. This week it seemed deeply unfair, however, and all the more so because we’re about to have a real vacation the likes of which we haven’t had for about seven years.

All that aside, things look good for the drive. The boy is very excited about seeing the ocean for the first time, and I confess that I am longing to see it again myself. You can move the girl out of the Maritimes, but a little bit of her will always be there.

I really, really wish I could take my cello.

Be well, gentle readers.

In Which She Imitates A Sloth

Not purposefully, mind you. It’s just how I feel after overdoing it yesterday. Fibrosloth! (Hmm. May need a fibrosloth icon.)

Yesterday morning I found myself craving fresh peaches, with no idea where the craving night have come from. Amanda then told me that she’d seen the first Niagara peaches now available here in markets; Mum mentioned she’d bought her first peaches last weekend, but I thought it would be at least another week here. Yay! Then I had the weirdest urge to learn to play The Swan. What is *with* me today?, I wondered. So with an hour before I had to leave, I pulled out the sheet music to The Swan. (Well, I didn’t have peaches, so cello it was.) And lo and behold, there was much absence of suckage in The Swan! (Well, except for bar 8. Stupid scale run with accidentals.) Judging from my well-meaning but full of fail previous fingerings, I was enthusiastic but not confident enough in shifting before. Or rather, not confident enough in my knowledge of the geography of the fingerboard, meaning I tried to shift as rarely as possible, leading me to play in awkward positions longer than I really needed to. I even managed some nice subtlety of expressions and some very attractive timbre.

I headed out to meet friends for lunch via bus and Metro, and used the Touch as an MP3 player for the first time. It was stupidly exciting. Also embarrassing, because I couldn’t figure out how to actually get something to, you know, play. Oy. Yay for random button-mashing. (Or touch-screen mashing. Oh Apple, why can you not be consistent in what needs a double-click and what does not?)

Lovely lunch in the company of excellent friends, but I ended up totally wiped regardless. We had a three-hour lunch, then MLG offered to keep me company and drive me to the library as it looked like rain, but we walked all the way back to where he’d parked at Mackay’s, and that ten-minute brisk walk plus the humid air downed me. It’s a worse fibro week than I thought. So no Bibliotheque nationale for me; he drove me home instead, bless him.

So this morning I had to figure out whether I should drive downtown to the library after dropping Liam off and picking something up from Paze, or go in by bus and metro tomorrow. I felt so stupidly paralyzed by the decision. Thursdays always feel rushed anyway, but if I drove I could get the whole thing done in less time. And there’s always meter parking around Archambault around ten in the morning. I made the decision to go, but by the time I got to Paze’s I was wiped. Yesterday’s outing just killed me. By the time I left her place I knew I couldn’t go downtown; I could barely concentrate enough to get home. No driving downtown for me. I did do the local running around (had to hit the bank three times, because I forgot one of the several transactions I had to do EVERY TIME, gah) and came back home to do the freelance thing.

I started working on the last part of this particular freelance gig, and in waltzed the self-doubt. I don’t know whether some of this doesn’t make sense because it’s bioengineering-speak, or because English is the writer’s second language. It occurs to me that it might also be due to the fibro-fog, requiring me to reread sentences several times in order to make head or tail of them.

Well, I’m done now; I’m just doing a final reread to make sure I haven’t missed anything, before sending it off to the grad student. Then I think I shall pass out.


Two chapters edited of the proposal, no time wasted on research about roving or wheels, practically no checking of LJ and RSS feeds.

Of, course, this is because I finally got around to watching The Guild today. But it worked. And it felt more active than frequent breaks to check news and stuff.

I’ve really been enjoying this editing job. I realised today that I am a total editing geek, because I like taking someone’s writing and focusing and refining it to be clear and tight. Cut those excess words! Put the important words where they get more attention in the sentence! Sharpen that point!

Yeah. I’m lame.

I did some basic planning for the NS trip this morning too. Bless Ceri, who said, “Why don’t you just hit a visitor’s information bureau when you get to the end of your rope and they can help you find inexpensive accommodation for the night? That’s what we did when we moved.” This takes piles of pressure off me to find three or more potential places to stop and stay throughout New Brunswick, depending on when we absolutely cannot be in the car any longer. Chances are very good they’ll be able to find a motel cheaper than the ones I’ve been able to find (because gack, too expensive, thanks). So instead I collated all the visitors centres along the route. Heh. It occurs to me that this what we did when we honeymooned in Scotland, and if we can do it in a foreign country we can do it in our own. I also checked to see if there was a yarn store where we’re staying, and what do you know, there is. Also heh. Their web page didn’t say they sold roving, but they deal with a bunch of local sheep farms, so they might have a few.

Yesterday I experienced a fibro/migraine teamup that knocked me flat halfway through the day. Urg. Fortunately today I am much better. Tomorrow I need to make a list of local places to visit while on vacation, and start a list of what to pack. I’m having lunch out with MLG and Paze, and then making my grand trek to the Bibliotheque nationale to get my subscriber card and borrow all fifteen (which is my max) books on spinning.

In weather-related news, summer has finally arrived: It’s finally hot enough to make chocolate kind of squishy if not stored in the fridge. Now if the dozens upon dozens of green tomatoes in the garden would just ripen, I would be thrilled.


Another Vague Weekend Roundup

The humidity is melting my brain.

Friday afternoon HRH came home early and announced that he was taking me out to lunch, so we checked to see if our favourite sushi spot was still open for lunch (it was!) and headed out for a light sushi nibble. We shared a salad and had just enough sushi to make us feel fabulous. We hit two bookstores (one had a lineup directly from hell so we went to the other for the gift we wanted), did groceries, picked up what we needed at the pharmacy, and then had a stop at home before collecting the boy, who had spent a fabulous day with friends he hadn’t seen in a while. When the boy went to bed I put the mute on the cello and played for a while. Just as I feared, the cello doesn’t come to mind very often now that lessons are on hold for the summer; I play once or twice a week and that’s all. But I’m working through Mooney’s Position Pieces book one, and on some independent stuff too.

On Saturday HRH was supposed to hit Mousme‘s place to continue painting while she was away for the weekend but there was a key kerfuffle, so while he waited by the phone the boy and I took the bus to the fabric store to buy some velveteen to cover the Styrofoam inserts HRH had carved for the hard cello case. The bus trip was fun, except for the tears that made an appearance when we got off the bus ( “But I don’t want to get off the bus — I want to get back on that bus! I don’t want to take a different bus home!” What the hey? Good grief.) We found some really nice taupe/grey velveteen on the bargain shelves and brought it home. We had a brand new bus on the trip back, and the boy charged right to the back seat and had a blast swinging his legs and jabbering about how excited Dada would be to know we had been on one of the new buses, with the new seats and the new paint!

After his nap he cheerfully suggested, “I know! Let’s play Rock Band!” and so I tried the drums for the first time ever. Holy nasty timing on the bass pedal. Give me the bass guitar back, please. Then we went out for ice cream, which was as hilarious as usual because the boy always gets chocolate and his face is a mess during and after the experience. Then we walked to the fruit stand nearby and picked up a tray of mixed berries, and stuffed ourselves on them during the drive home along the Lakeshore. We put the boy in his bathing suit and turned the sprinkler on in the back, and he soaked himself and screamed quite happily. (Placing the sprinkler so it drenches the slide? Priceless.) I baked two loaves of bread, and we ate one in entirety for dinner. Ice cream, fresh local berries, homemade bread: I count this a winner of a summer weekend dinner, personally.

Once the boy was in bed I cut out, fitted, pinned, and sewed the velveteen covers for the cello case inserts, and they’re essentially done except for the final handstitching of the end flaps. (I also need to trim and reglue the existing velveteen lining where HRH took out the built-in curves that were interfering with the 7/8’s position, but that’s cosmetic.) There was Sewing Machine Dramah where it refused to work, producing loops and snarls and jams instead of the smooth line I needed, and the Internet was useless; I have no idea where my manual is, and I couldn’t find one online. Nothing I did worked, not adjusting bobbin tension, not adjusting spool tension, not rethreading repeatedly, not changing bobbin thread, not changing the spool thread, not cleaning, not waving my hands over it and chanting mystical gibberish. Not until I did it all over again in a different order, that is, and magically the problem vanished. I did a thorough cleaning, and that may have been a factor; evidently the last major thing I sewed on it was HRH’s Van Helsing coat, because holy cats, the amount of black fluff inside it. Oh no, hang on; I sewed and then tore apart and remade a kick-ass black mock suede corset for band after we moved in; that’s what it all is. I hang my head in shame for not cleaning the machine properly afterward. I must admit to essentially leaving it alone for four years, though. I did some sachets on it, hemmed a baby sling, and made curtains for the boy’s room, but that’s pretty much been the extent of my sewing aside from the corset since we moved and the boy was born. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I missed sewing while I worked on the inset covers. One of the things I did to distract the boy from his tears when we got to the fabric store was take him to the catalogues to look through the costumes, and he found a standard superhero pattern and declared that wanted to be the Flash for Halloween. I told him that it was duly noted and we’d revisit the notion in September (which is five weeks from now, WHERE DID THE SUMMER YEAR GO). We never did get around to making the lovely little pirate coat for which I gathered all the materials and accessories a couple of years ago; he wanted to be a superhero or an engineer instead. Maybe this year he’ll actually let me sew something for him.

Sunday morning we dropped HRH at Mousme’s house so he could strip wallpaper and paint her bedroom. The boy and I had a lovely morning out and about, and everything was spectacular until nap time, when he had a tearful meltdown about no, not needing a rest, really. Then it was about how noisy his room was and it was quieter outside it so he’d sleep out there (no), and then it was about wanting to keep me company while I worked (also no). I finally got him into our bed and snuggled him until he passed out an hour and a half after he usually does, and he slept for an hour before we left to pick up HRH. We had tacos for dinner followed by freshly made chocolate ice cream, then the boy had his bath and went to bed without a problem. There were some impressive thunderstorms that went through last night, which unfortunately necessitated closing the bedroom window, which faces west. If we weren’t going to NS soon I’d have HRH put the air conditioner in, just to take some of the damp out of the air. It’s not that it’s hot; it’s just wet all the time, and everything smells musty.

Okay, I need to go lie down. The day’s work is done, and despite being adequately hydrated and fed I’m dizzy and kind of flopsy. I knew this wouldn’t be a good fibro day after two nights of broken and low-quality sleep, but I just got up to answer the phone and am having more difficulty than I expected. I guess it’s reading or staring into space for the rest of the day.

In Which She Talks About Things Other Than Spinning Wheels

Yesterday Ceri and I knocked about various places, and it was a most enjoyable day. We had a late breakfast and then headed out to Daisy Antiques, a place my mother and I used to visit regularly when I was a kid. Not much has changed, and certainly not Daisy herself; she looks exactly the same way she did when I last saw her twenty years ago.

Ceri and I had great fun climbing all over the multi-floor shop with its never-ending series of rooms filled with lovely things. We saved the wraparound porch for last, because that’s where the antique spinning wheels were. (The porch was always the best part when I was a kid, too.) And with a bit of poking and jury-rigging we dragged them out and tested all four (well, one wasn’t testable beyond treadling because the spindle was broken) and found them all in remarkably decent shape. They’d all need work before they could be used, of course; proper drive bands made for them, sanding down or filling in of gashes on bobbins, oiling and replacing of the bands or cups holding the spindle assembly, tensioning knobs replaced, flyer hooks straightened or replaced, and so forth. But they were all pretty solid. And the price was attractive, too; Daisy said they were all around $350, but she’d sell them for two.

Then I paid for a 1927 copy of Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill I’d found on a shelf upstairs; I couldn’t pass it up because when I picked it up it fell open to the page with “A Tree Song” on it (and somehow I haven’t managed to read it, and it occurs to me that I don’t think I actually own any Kipling, how odd). Daisy began talking to us about books and she took us into a locked room where she had some gorgeous little books dating from the late 17th century. Ceri and I petted them and cooed over them. And as Ceri was wearing her Great Sax t-shirt, Daisy asked if she played, and the conversation turned to music. It seems that Daisy’s son is a pro sax player.

The things one learns, really.

Daisy also talked to us about estate sales. I think she’d seen and heard us being appreciative of the things we saw and the history they held as we wandered around the shop “Have you ever been to one?” she asked. No, we hadn’t we said, and she said, “Oh, they’re great fun.” A great way to pick up housewares and furniture and books at very good prices, she said, because the point of the sale is to clear the house, not to get the best price one can for them. She has one coming up in my borough in the next couple of weeks, so she gave us her card and told us to watch her website. It sounds like fun; we’ll see if we’re in town for it.

After heading out to Ariadne we had lunch together in the little tea shop behind the quilting store in Pointe-Claire village, and then I had to flee in order to try to get the day’s work finished. The service at lunch was very slow, which didn’t help.

Over lunch, Ceri and I talked about Worldcon (she’s not going either, which relieves me and makes me feel less guilty about choosing to miss it), and we touched on different things about writing and process and general approach. And I thought of two ways I could start Orchestrated, and Ceri suggested a different spin for one of them, so after the boy was in bed and I’d had a bath I curled up in bed with my notebook and wrote out two possible openings for it. Reading Graham Swift’s Making an Elephant was inspirational, too. There were a couple of turns of phrase in it that sent my mind off in new directions and pulled the what-if along a different route. It was nice to be interested in it again.

And now, out for lunch and groceries and bank and stuff.

And It Is All (Mostly) Ceri’s Fault (Okay, Not Really, But She Didn’t Stop Me)

I ordered my Louet S15 wheel today from Ariadne, my crack dealer local yarn store. I went in with Ceri, who needed to pick up a bunch of yarn for various projects, and then when she was done I followed up on the spinning session I’d gone in for last week. It was kind of, “Talk to me about the models; what’s the difference, how’s the pricing, blah blah blah.” And then it was being pleasantly surprised at the prices and making notes. And then it was me turning the business card that I’d written all the info down on over and over in my hands, hesitating, then making my decision, and saying, “Oh, hell, why not. Let’s just order it now.” Because I realized that all I was doing was trying to Do The Right Thing and wait a week before coming back and ordering it anyway. And if I waited a week, Ariadne would be closed for their summer break, and the week after that I would be in NS, and this way I can pick it up when I get home.

At least I had the moral fortitude to resist starting a roving stash until the wheel comes in.

I suppose that in a way, it was inevitable. I was outbid on the S10 on eBay this morning, and Ceri and I tested antique wheels when we went out which were all functional but I’d have to have new bobbins made and they were all Saxony models for which I have no room, and the prices of the new Louets were much, much more reasonable than I had been led to believe by looking online. Even if the price list we were working from was a wee bit out of date, the price increase isn’t going to be that dramatic. Buying new means that I know everything’s going to be okay and there’s no iffiness about buying someone else’s problem, and if there is a problem, Louet will replace it or help work it out. I originally ordered the S17, but Molly Ann pointed out that a skein winder is around a hundred dollars, and the S15 was being sold with a free winder because it’s a Louet anniversary year and for the hundred dollar increase between the 17 and the 15 I’d get a sturdier wheel and the winder I’d eventually need anyway, so the S15 it was. I put two hundred dollars down which didn’t even feel like my money because MLG handed it to me Sunday night, the final payment for the 4/4 cello I sold to him. ( “So it’s Marc’s fault,” Ceri said. “If he hadn’t paid you, you wouldn’t have ordered the wheel today.”) And I’ve supported my independent LYS, which I am very pleased to do.

Let me tell you, it was hard not buying three huge floofy twists of fibre I saw there. Gorgeous colours. And that was before I put the down payment on the wheel.

Okay, must buckle down to work. I have another few pages to edit before I head out to collect the boy. Just wanted to share the news.