Yup, she did it, and here is the photographic proof — a photo set with her (and Hunter, her boyfriend) before, during and after the graduation ceremony. Enjoy it as if you were there your very own self!
(And for those wondering, it was a fine ceremony, and very quick, since Athena had a graduating class of 32. Small rural schools, man. But it was enough time to get all misty-eyed.)
My sleep "routine" is even worse than usual lately. I think deadline stress is affecting it. I'm not even particularly behind on deadlines or anything, but I'm stressed anyway, which means my focus is shot... It's a nasty cycle.
It's still cooler than I like for the end of May, so we're not planting this weekend, but scruloose is outside digging the flowerbed-to-be. Hero!
Meanwhile, the potted clematis in the spare room are reaching through the air, groping for the window. It's kinda amazing.
Reminder that nanodownunder starts up in a few days! I'll quote china_shop:
Want to kick-start your writing?
Set your own goals -- this doesn't have to be a full 50K-word endeavour, just whatever you want to aim for. Pick a WIP to finish, or set a daily time- or wordcount-goal. Or just wing it, if you prefer.
Daily check-in posts. Locked comm so we can chat/cheer/commiserate in semi-privacy (ie, you have to join to play, but membership isn't moderated). Come one, come all...
EddieMcClintock tweeted a "Mini #WAREHOUSE13 reunion!" pic of himself, Scags, Aaron Ashmore, and (executive producer) Jack Kenny, and my heart melted all over the place.
Cordelia and I are both feeling terrible, but... Family obligations. Scott is cranky and snarling at everything. Great fun.
I keep thinking there has to be a good day this weekend, and life keeps saying no.
* My husband made short bread from scratch, and it was so delicious. Store bought shortbread is going to taste like cereal from now on.
* I cleaned out the guestroom closet and a friend took the debris away for her school's garage sale. Now you can walk into the closet and see all the stuff like sheets, coats, blankets, dining room table leaves, Xmas boxes, etc that needs to be in there. (One of the reasons we bought this old, comfortable, shitshow of a house is that it has closets in almost every room and they're huge. The downside of that is stuff gets put in them and you forget it's there and just put stuff in on top of it.)
* I also cleaned out and did some rearrangement of my office, mainly getting rid of the desk which wasn't being used since I don't have a desktop computer anymore. A lot of old publishing letters and paperwork went to my archive at Cushing Library, freeing up filing cabinet drawers for things to go into and I gave away some more stuff to the school garage sale. We're going to put a chair in there so people can actually go in, sit down, and read. (The process started with the realization that we didn't actually have to keep the door closed to keep the cats out since Jack and Tasha don't eat paper, plastic, and string like Harry did.)
* I love the new mattress. I'm actually having longer more detailed dreams, or at least remembering longer more detailed dreams, because I'm not constantly waking up trying to find a position that's not painful.
* I lucked into a half-price frame sale and got some prints we bought at Comicpalooza framed and hung up in the hallway.
* I've been gradually trying to get the choking vines out of the front flower bed, and it's sort of almost starting to look better.
* Doctor Who has been awesome. God, I love Bill as much as Donna. I want Donna to get her memory back and she and Bill have to find the Tardis and go off to rescue the Doctor.
Stuff I need to do today:
* Finish off the Raksura Patreon story (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=
* Pull more vines out of flower bed.
Stuff I need to do this week:
* Re-paint the trim in the stairwell.
* Make some serious progress on Murderbot 4.
* more vines
Things I have coming up:
* I'm doing a signing with Rachel Caine at Murder by the Book in Houston, TX, on Saturday July 15, at 4:30
If you can't come in person, you can order signed copies of The Harbors of the Sun and The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red and Rachel's Ash and Quill, the latest in her Great Library series, and Stillhouse Lake. Plus whichever of our other books the store can order.
In the evening I met rushthatspeaks for a sold-out showing of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) at the Brattle Theatre: I thought it was great. It's more overtly supernatural than the series overall—it's focused on the most overtly supernatural strand—but it's also decisively grounded by Sheryl Lee's performance, with Laura Palmer's very realistic anger, damage, and agency (it was not clear in the show that her final status was a choice rather than an inevitable consequence or a weird side effect of the manner of her death; the film offers her no good options, but she absolutely opts for the best of them, which makes it strangely difficult for me to classify the film as horror, even though content-wise I don't know what else it should be) interlocking across registers with the characters who live in the soapier layers of the plot. I was glad to see Harry Dean Stanton turn up in the supporting cast, because he feels existentially like someone who should inhabit a David Lynch universe. Now we just need to finish watching the remaining half of Season Two and figure out what to do about the third-season revival.
A later interlude of placidly watching candymaking videos by Public Displays of Confection with spatch was interrupted by Autolycus violently throwing up all over a box of hardcover Le Guin and Tanith Lee, but fortunately the box had a lid on it, the books have been transplanted to a high shelf, and a very shaken small cat was comforted after we emergency-mopped the floor. (There was much anxious purring. We reassured him that we know he does not throw up maliciously. He never looks like he enjoys it.)
Unless it gets a National Theatre-style broadcast, I don't have a hope of seeing the Crucible's Julius Caesar on account of it being in Sheffield and me being on the other side of an ocean, but it's being done with a diverse, gender-equal cast and I wish I could see it, because Zoë Waites has a hell of a lean and hungry look:
We are talking about seeing Jacques Tati's Playtime (1967) tomorrow. I haven't seen the movie since 2010, when it was also on film at the Brattle and I loved it. I should get to bed.
2. My house is mostly clean, and the new vacuum cleaner works well.
3. The dog's medication is working, which means she no longer pees in her sleep. (Yes, really. Sigh.)
4. I had a lovely lunch (with gelato!) and a long walk in the redwoods with laurashapiro and shrift.
5. There are still 2 more days of the weekend, and I have no obligations whatsoever. This is kind of awesome.
I prefer things I can get as trade collections because there's pretty much zero chance I can afford to chase down individual comics. XD
(This has been brought to you by wasting time by reading Cyclops' TV Tropes page.)
Currently I'm making Honey-Sweetened Strawberry Jam, and will probably make Whole Strawberries in Vanilla Syrup tomorrow. It's just a process of cooking it down, since it is only suppose to fill 2 half-pint jars, and it starts with a dry quart of strawberries.
I did look at the value tomatoes, but they were all slicers, not pasters, and thus not a good buy, so I won't be making ketchup just yet. On the upside, I talked with the guy who makes vinegar from scratch -- fruits and vegetables to wine and then to vinegar, and I think using his Spicebush Vinegar for half the vinegar in the my tomato ketchup recipe might give a really good base -- really savory and flavorful.
Italics taken from the blurbs. Gothics have the best blurbs.
Castle Barebane, by Joan Aiken. A series of lurid murders... a roofless ruin with crumbling battlements... nephew and niece callously abandoned in a slum... a man of mysterious origins and enigmatic habits... dark emanations from London's underworld... Mungo, an old sailor...
The Five-Minute Marriage, by Joan Aiken. An imposter has claimed her inheritance... a counterfeit marriage to the principle heir, her cousin... family rivalries festering for generations... a shocking episode of Cartaret family history will be repeated.
The Weeping Ash, by Joan Aiken. Sixteen-year-old Fanny Paget, newly married to the odious Captain Paget... in northern India, Scylla and Calormen Paget, twin cousins of the hateful Captain, have begun a seemingly impossible flight for their lives, pursued by a vengeful maharaja... elephant, camel, horse, raft... The writer has used her own two-hundred-year-old house in Sussex, England for the setting.
Winterwood, by Dorothy Eden. The moldering elegance of a decaying Venetian palazzo... pursued by memories of the scandalous trial that rocked London society... their daughter, Flora, crippled by a tragic accident... Charlotte's evil scheming... a series of letters in the deceased Lady Tameson's hand
The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall. A demon-haunted house... two beautiful young sisters... the pain of a recent tragedy... a sinister and hateful force from the past... by the author of Hedgerow.
Shadow of the Past, by Daoma Winston. An unseen presence... fled to Devil's Dunes... strange "accidents..." it seemed insane... the threads of the mysterious, menacing net cast over her life... What invisible hand threatened destruction?
Twelve-year-old Lucy returns to the small English village of Hagworthy, which she hasn’t visited since she was seven. There she stays with her aunt, reconnects with some childhood friends and finds that both she and they have changed, and looks on in growing alarm as the well-meaning but ignorant new vicar resurrects the ancient tradition of the Horn Dance, which is connected to the Wild Hunt.
The premise plus the opening sentences probably tell you everything you need to know about the book:
The train had stopped in a cutting, so steep that Lucy, staring through the window, could see the grassy slopes beyond captured in intense detail only a yard or two away: flowers, insects, patches of vivid red earth. She became intimate with this miniature landscape, alone with it in a sudden silence, and then the train jolted, oozed steam from somewhere beneath, and moved on between shoulders of Somerset hillside.
This is one of my favorite genres which sadly does not seem to exist any more, the subset of British children’s fantasy, usually set in small towns or villages, which focuses on atmosphere, beautiful prose, and capturing delicate moments in time. Character is secondary, plot is tertiary, and there may be very little action (though some have a lot); the magical aspects are often connected to folklore or ancient traditions, and may be subtle or questionable until the end.
You can see all those elements in those two sentences I quoted; the entire subgenre consists of inviting the reader to become intimate with minature landscapes.
This is obviously subjective and debatable, but I think of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper (especially Greenwitch), and Robert Westall as writers with books in this subgenre, but not Diana Wynne Jones. The settings are the sort parodied in Cold Comfort Farm. Hagworthy is full of darkly muttering villagers who kept making me think, “Beware, Robert Poste’s child!”
In The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, Lucy’s parents are divorced, and her mother is now living in another country with a baby brother Lucy has never met. This is mentioned maybe two or three times, very briefly, which is interesting because so many books would make a much bigger deal of it. Lucy returns to Hagworthy for a vacation with her aunt, a botanist.
Of her childhood friends, the two girls have become horse-mad and have nothing in common with Lucy. The boy, Kester, is now a moody misfit teenager, and Lucy, who is also a bit of a moody misfit, becomes friends with him all over again. They wander around the countryside, fossil-hunting and stag-watching, periodically getting in fights over Kester’s refusal to discuss the thing hanging over the story, which is the new vicar’s revival of the Horn Dance to fundraise at a fete. This is very obviously going to awaken the Wild Hunt, and Kester has clearly been mystically targeted as its victim. Though there is a ton of dark muttering about what a bad idea this is, no one does anything about this until nearly the end, when Lucy finally makes first a misfired attempt to stop the Horn Dance, then a successful one to save Kester.
The atmosphere and prose is lovely, and if you like that sort of thing, you will like this book. Even for a book that isn’t really about the plot, the plot had problems. One was the total failure of any adult to even try to do anything sensible ever, for absolutely no reason, until Lucy finally manages to ask the right person the right question. This could have been explained as some magical thing preventing them from acting, but it wasn’t.
The other problem I had was that nothing unpredictable ever happens. Everyone is exactly what they seem: the blacksmith has mystical knowledge, the vicar is an innocent in over his head, the horse-mad girls have nothing in their heads but horses, and so forth. I kept expecting something to be slightly less obvious—for the vicar to know exactly what he’s doing and have a nefarious purpose, for the horse-mad girls to not be as dumb as they seem or to have their horsey skills play a role in saving Kester, for Lucy’s aunt to know more about magic than the blacksmith, etc—but no.
I looked up Penelope Lively. It looks like her famous book is Ghost of Thomas Kempe, which I think I also own.
There’s an album of music based on the book which you can listen to online. It’s by the Heartwood Institute, and is instrumental and atmospheric.
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy
We did lose 2 of the little fishes—they’re very small, and at this stage of life, fragile. Two kohaku (orange spots on white) didn’t make it, what with the crazy weather that’s also made the pond murky. I did a drain down of all but 1000 gallons, we are putting in clean water, and I rejoice to report that four of our six are together, hanging out in the little ‘houses’ Jane built of rock, and around the filter intake pump—which makes me very glad I put that thing in a mesh bag. They can get too snuggly with a pump and get into trouble.
But using the auxiliary pump, the draindown only took about 3 hours, we are now (much more slowly) refilling: I’ll have to test and adjust the chemistry again; and hopefully we’ll be able to see our fishes from time to time. Ari, Maddy, Wesley, and Ichigo all are ok. Pix are impossible: you’d only say, what fish? Clarity isn’t perfect, they are opting to stay in the deepest water, next to or under a black mesh bag.