Monthly Archives: July 2010

What I Read In July 2010

Perilous Gard Elizabeth Pope (reread)
The White Cat by Holly Black
A Comet in Moominland Tove Jansson (reread)
The Path of a Christian Witch by Adelina St.Clair
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly McNees
The Lost Years of Jane Austen by Barbara Wilson
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn

I give up on:

Freedom & Necessity by Steven Brust & Emma Bull (this has a great premise but I just can’t settle into it)
Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt (the style of this keeps me at arm’s length)
Extraordinary Engines ed. Nick Gevers (short fiction, and again, most of them are holding me at arm’s length)

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain (I have had one chapter of this to go for a year, and I’m finally declaring it read in order to get it the heck off my bedside table.)
Stories ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio (I can’t rightly say I read this, since I read less than half the stories, but I did read some of it before I had to take it back to the library. I quite enjoyed Gaiman’s story and Joanne Harris’, as well. Nothing else stuck in my head.)

The moral of the story is apparently that it’s summer and I can’t focus on much. And I want to enjoy short fiction, I truly do, but by the time I settle into the style or story it’s over, and the next thing is different and I have to go through the whole adjustment process again.


Firefox’s auto-fill function tells me that I’ve used that title before. How unimaginative of me, on more than one level.

Hello, world, I’m really tired. I’ve been doing a lot of work, which is good for the financial side of things (alas that invoicing and accounting department turnarounds are not instantaneous), but draining on the mind and body level. And I’m pretty much just a flopsy, unfocused, warm body right now, which is not good for the current deadlines I’m working on. I find myself just kind of staring into space for longish periods of time. And I have no appetite, as is usual for this time of year, but which doesn’t help matters.

Speaking of work, I signed the contracts for the one-shot editing/re-purposing gig this fall (this is not the copy editing one but the second project to which my networking goddess of an editor at my publisher connected me) and mailed them off yesterday. Basically, I am taking an existing manuscript and cutting it in half, moving things round as necessary for clarity and flow. I’m looking forward to it, because it feels so much more proactive than reviewing manuscripts and pointing out what kind of editing they’re going to need in a very polite way via a 24-page evaluation sheet, but not really doing anything beyond pointing out what someone else will need to do to get it to publishing standard.

I finished a major backup of the Mac mini to data DVDs (because yes, I am paranoid, thank you very much), took a deep breath and wiped my external hard drive (which I backed up a few weeks ago), and then set it up as a Time Machine drive. So now I am backing up hourly, and I should stop worrying about losing stuff. I’m still going to back up writing, new photos, and music to data DVDs every month, because did I mention that I was paranoid?

Moving-wise I’m at that odd sort of point balanced between “I need this stuff for everyday living and working” and “holy cats I need to get all this stuff into boxes,” which is not good for my sanity or equilibrium. Yesterday I started the process of notifying everything that needs to know our address is changing. Bell, your website is annoying, and why bother to fill in an online change of address thing if I can’t confirm it online and you’re just going to have to call me anyway? I’ll save time and call you directly at some point. Hydro was lovely and straightforward, you can hit six fundamental departments of the provincial government with a single form, and the next time I’m at a real post office I’ll pick up a mail redirection form. (The tiny postal counter round the corner where I went yesterday to mail my contracts didn’t have said forms, which I sort of expected, but annoyed me nonetheless.)

I now have an Excel spreadsheet of what needs to be done between now and the move. It is depressingly long, despite crossing about ten things off yesterday.

The major bridge we have to cross between the current residence and the new one is doing weekend work through August and September, and guess which weekend they have chosen to reduce the three-lane southbound side down to one lane for major maintenance and reconstruction? Why yes, our moving weekend.

The boys come home early afternoon today, so I need to get as much crammed into today as possible. All I really want to do is go back to bed with a warm kitten to purr at me.

We Have Yarn

288 yards of lovely two-ply harvest-coloured yarn, in fact.

I plied the HAY single I spun at the Twistle Sheep to Shawl event with with a semi-woollen Corriedale single that I dyed a deep red colour. The tone of the original result was too cool so I overdyed it with yellow and got a good brick red that complements the lofty woollen-spun single I spun from the yellow/orange/red of the HAY batts.

Stats for my records:

* 3.5 oz HAY batts
* about 2.5 oz Corriedale (I spun about 4 oz, used about two-thirds)
* Total weight of yarn: 5.95 oz
* Total yardage: 288 yards
* WPI: approximately 10 wraps per inch (worsted weight)

Original HAY batts plus Corriedale single:

Pretty, squishy yarn:

Catching Up

Let’s see, what of importance happened last week that I didn’t sit down and write about?

* A second job with my publisher in negotiation, this one for a single editing contract due in November. My editor is a networking goddess. Also, I hammered a lot of evaluation assignments home in the past two weeks and today I get to invoice for a very nice amount.

* The inevitable happened, and the boy lost Whitey-Blackie the bunny on a shopping trip Friday. Oh, the screams in the car after the first fruitless search when I explained that if he was lost and we couldn’t find him, then someone had found him and picked him up to give him a good home. “AAAAAAAAAH!” screamed the boy through his tears. “I DON’T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO HAVE HIM!” Cuddling him while he cried in the car was a sobering example of how sometimes all you can do is hold someone while they grieve or rage against the injustice of life, and that sometimes a mother’s kiss doesn’t make it all better. Retracing our steps the second time, we found the bunny stuffed under the bottom shelf in Zellers where we had been trying on new sandals that didn’t rub the boy’s feet to fresh blisters on top of the blisters of the day before.

* I had a lovely surprise Saturday morning. It was dull and gloomy, and I haven’t been sleeping well, so the boy was up playing and I was still lying abed with a book when the phone rang. “Who’s calling at this hour?” I said, leaping for the phone, but of course it wasn’t seven-thirty (which is what both the light and my inner clock were telling me), it was nine-thirty, and Bodhifox was on the line to wish me a belated birthday. I curled up in my office reading chair and had a very enjoyable chat with him. It set a lovely tone for the rest of the day.

* We had friends over on Saturday night and ordered in an incredibly large spread of General Tao, beef and black bean noodles, spicy peanut butter ravioli, and other things. This was a belated birthday thing, too, and was an inspired alternative to all of us going out. The food cooled a bit beyond what I’d have liked while I put the boy to bed, and I should have thought of putting everything in the barely warm oven to keep it hot. And Ceri made a peanut butter pie which was kind of like an ice cream pie with chocolate sauce that was light and delicious.

* I am so very tired of talking to people about the house. I was tired of it two days after we sealed the deal, and so many conversations still lead back to it. Yes, it’s a house, it’s lovely, we’re happy, but all I seem to do is repeat the same information over and over when people ask about it, which is boring to me and thus, I assume, boring to others. That said, it must be recorded here that after all is said and done, our combined monthly mortgage payment is going to be slightly less than our current rent. It’s only by about six dollars, but it’s the principle of the thing, and makes us very happy. Also, no one seems to make the kind of light wooden-leg loveseat I want for the new living room, and I am peeved. We have picked our paint colours, though. Earthy and creamy tones, as usual, because they work for us.

* I picked up the new Scott Pilgrim graphic novel on Friday, and finished it in about twenty minutes, handed it to HRH, and watched him finish it in about forty-five. (An excellent wrap-up of everything with some really good storytelling; I am pleased with it.) We then sent it home with Scott on Saturday, which was only right as he and Ceri had lent us the first five as they came out. Besides, he left me Tongue of Serpents, the new Temeraire novel, in return, so everyone is happy.

* I had literally just finished reading The Lost Years of Jane Austen, which posits that Jane travelled to New South Wales (AKA Australia) with her aunt and uncle Leigh Perrot, when Scott brought me the new Temeraire novel… which takes place in the same place at essentially the same time, so all the place names and locations and general conditions are familiar to me. Very synchronous and convenient for my mindset.

* The boy and I stopped by the library on Friday (post-Whitey-Blackie incident; the bunny stayed in the car, as all toys are doing from now on) and I discovered that they had the first two Moomintroll books on the new acquisitions shelf on the kids’ side. I jumped up and down and exclaimed and snatched the first one, and the boy totally brushed me and my excitement off, heading for Dewey numbers 625-629, which are his regular turf. That night I said we could read the first chapter at bedtime, but he said no; then he compromised, saying I could read him a picture book of his choice and then the first chapter of whatever this chapter book I was so excited about might be. And it turns out that when we got to the end of that chapter, he took my arm and said, “No, Mama, you should keep reading.” We read a chapter and a half the next afternoon while HRH vacuumed, and another chapter and a half that night, and a chapter last night, too. We’re going to have to go back for volume two sooner rather than later. Or perhaps we shall buy them, which would make me very happy indeed. I found my first Moomintroll book at a church sale when I was about ten, and loved the series so much.

* I spun 4 ounces of Corriedale into a single comparable to the single I spun last weekend of the HAY batts, and dyed it a deep sort of crimson rust colour yesterday. It’s drying now, and I’m hoping the colour complements the HAY single well enough to ply them together this week. I also experimented with dyeing 4 oz of the local wool/mohair roving I had, mixing up what I thought should be a celery green and looked it in the pot, but when the roving dried it was more of a cheerful lemon-lime colour. I tried blending some with a bit of white Tencel on my hackle comb, but while it breaks the solid green up a bit it doesn’t have the lighter sheen I wanted. I think I’ll spin the green roving as-is, then possibly overdye it with a bit of blue. My problem so far is I think I’m mixing up really weak dye solutions (a quarter-teaspoon of dye powder total to about eight cups of water) but they’re stronger than I expect. This green would have worked if it had been about a third of the concentration. From now on, I’ll mix the solution and then use maybe half of it; I can always do a second dye bath to deepen a colour, but you can’t take dye out.

* Working on some nudges and fixes of Emily’s cello book (second edition! if you own the first edition it is now a collector’s item!) made me want to play the cello, so I pulled it out and played for half an hour. I regretfully sent a note to my cello teacher saying that the plan had been to set up lessons again after everyone’s stuff in July was done, but now that we’re moving in three and a half weeks I just don’t have time, what with packing and work.

* Music-wise I have been thoroughly enjoying Zoe Keating’s new album Into the Trees, and Hans Zimmer’s score to last year’s Sherlock Holmes. I also recently picked up Danny Elfman’s score to The Wolfman, with lots and lots of lovely dark cello, but it has, alas, suffered in the aforementioned company, and so I have tucked it away for re-introduction later when my brain is not obsessed with other music.

Right, enough of that. This is what happens when I don’t blog for a week.

Weekend Roundup: Sheep to Shawl/Alexandria/Maxville Tour Edition

Giddy from the house news, we left Saturday morning at about ten to nine to drive to Alexandria ON for the Twistle Guild’s Sheep to Shawl event. Held at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, this was an informal small gathering of fibre artists and vendors. It was a lovely day. We had three brief thunderstorms roll through, but we just hitched our wheels and chairs closer to the centre of the awning we were under and kept on going. The boy had an enjoyable day playing about and visiting the various buildings on site one by one, eating his picnic lunch (packed in his new Artoo lunch box, a birthday gift from Ceri and Scott!), and petting the local cat, who was very friendly indeed. He took me on little tours to the museum buildings after HRH has taken him to see each one, showing me the interesting things and explaining various items to me. There was a sheep shearing in the early afternoon, which was very interesting to watch and fascinated the boy:

The Twistle spinners are a great bunch and I was made very welcome. I spun up all 3.5 ounces of the HAY batts I’d won from Phat Fiber a couple of weeks ago. I got a lot of comments on it from both spinners and visitors; I suspect this is due to the fact that I was the only one spinning something brightly coloured (and possibly the only one using longdraw; I didn’t get a good look at what others were doing, but my impression was that their hands were all very close to their wheels). I was very good and didn’t buy anything, mainly because I had no money, but also because I am now aware that anything brought into the house needs to be moved in four weeks. If the rest of my summer wasn’t so wildly booked I might have planned to head up on a Friday to spin with them again.

Things started packing up around threeish, mainly because it looked like there was yet another thunderstorm rolling in, and I was the last spinner to leave. We headed over to Darroch and Carolyn’s, where we were soon joined by an ever-increasing crowd of assorted friends and relatives. At Darroch’s request I made what is known as Evil Chocolate torte, the flourless chocolate cake I’d made for a gathering there before, which went over very well with the crowd. The boy and I went to bed around eight, and the next morning we had coffee and tea with our hosts while the boy had two bowls of cereal. Just past nine AM we headed over to Rowan Tree Farm to visit with t! and Jan, who fed us brunch, too. The boy checked on the chickens and ran around madly with their dog Carter.

Time with friends is always much too brief. We left for home around midday, all thoroughly exhausted. The boy and I watched movies while HRH went and sanded plastered drywall, and we ended the day with homemade pizza. Everyone slept like logs.

Today has been handling the slew of congratulations and questions about the house, and negotiating another editing gig. My lovely editor put me in touch with yet another in-house project looking for someone, and I talked today with the project’s editor about reducing a manuscript for republication. My bid to raise the fee for the project gig was met with regretful refusal due to their budget constraints, so I’m working within their budget. I was psyching myself for a two-month turnaround, but it turns out the delivery date is in mid-November, so I’m slightly giddy and somewhat relived that I won’t be trying to cram it into my life along with the move. And Jeff and Paze stopped by to give me their birthday gift, a lovely selection of handmade chocolates (which are very, very good indeed).

And in final news, the boy has scraped more elbows and knees in the space of three days than ever before, and he also consumed a full litre of milk in about twelve hours. I think we’re seeing a growth spurt.

A Rather Important Announcement

We bought a house today.

It is small but sweet, in remarkable shape for its age, and very charming. It was built in 1947, and sold for the princely sum of $560 to the first owners. (We will be the fourth owners. We paid significantly more than that.)

Yes, househunting hell is OVER. Now, of course, we shift into packing hell, but as this has a concrete goal at the end of it and a structured timeline, it’s bearable. I’ve packed a home in two weeks before; a month will be fine.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who listened to us vent and offered moral support through this entire affair. The past six weeks haven’t been easy, but you have all made it less hellish by being positive and encouraging.

I must say, this has been a rather excellent birthday week, what with a house bought and a job offer received. Also, as a wonderful cap to the excellence, the boy paddled all over Ceri and Scott’s in-ground pool today with a floaty thing, and we were over the moon about his decision to leave anxiety about swimming behind. (When I say he was paddling all over the pool, I really mean all over, deep end and everything. For someone who wouldn’t leave the steps this is huge, and it seemed to happen within about ten minutes. There was even jumping in involved. And he paddled for ages, and then it was nigh-impossible to get him out; he kept wheedling to swim across the pool one more time.)

And in unrelated news, tomorrow we head out to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum for their Sheep to Shawl day-long celebration of fibre arts, where I will be spinning from ten till about four, unless I am slain by the heat first. It should be wonderful fun.

Even More Photos

Yesterday I finished plying and wet-finishing 390 yards of woollen-spun two-ply yarn. I love it with so much love. It’s springy and lofty and just gorgeous.

The pictures show two pretty tightly packed skeins of yarn, so it isn’t exactly displayed to its best advantage. But you’ll get an idea, anyhow.

This was the SpinKnit&Life’s Luscious Ditty batts in the Baby Silks colourway, “a 7 ounce luxury blend of Merino, Tussah Silk, Alpaca and Blue Faced Leicester Wool. Blue with muted splashes of pink, purple, mint green. Loaded with Tussah Silk for extra softness.”

Here, I used the other camera on loan to us for a macro picture of the sample skein so you get a better sense of the loft:

The second photo is closer to the actual colour.