Archive for November, 2018

FF: Keep On Reading!

November 30, 2018

I’m managing a little more reading time… You might say it’s my carrot, my reward for a day’s work well done.

Carrot, Not Stick

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge.  I read this years after it was winning awards.  Came away feeling the awards were well deserved.

Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip.  Audiobook.  Excellent and evocative.

In Progress:

Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Set in ancient Egypt with lots of period material.  Very enjoyable, although the POV character might strike some as too vague and dreamy.

Also:

The magazines are piling up!

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WW: PF Discovers the Bird Block

November 28, 2018

PF, a Junco, and the Bird Block

I’ve known for a long time that squirrels will poach from bird feeders, but I never realized that cottontail bunnies would.  Then PF came into our lives.

We first met PF early this summer when he’d sneak between loose boards on our fence to graze on the native plants that make up a good portion of our landscaping.  This was fine with us.  Native bunny.  Native plants.

Then PF discovered string beans.  This was not so good.  We grow the string beans for us.  The guinea pigs get an occasional treat, but if PF kept eating the better part of a plant at a sitting, then no one was going to get any string beans: not us, not the guinea pigs, and not PF.

By this point in our relationship, PF was nearly tame, so finding out how he was getting into the yard was very easy.  I would walk out into the yard, then PF would hippetty-hop slowly toward the closest exit: usually a part of the fence with a loose or missing board.  I would then block the opening and, if a new board was needed, Jim would put it in that weekend.

It turned out that PF had numerous ingresses to our yard but, through process of elimination, he showed them to us one by one.  The hardest one to fix was the gate, where he proved able to squeeze through a space that seemed far too narrow for such a robust cottontail.

Finally, we closed all the gaps.  PF was not pleased with us.  When I discovered he had been trying to dig through the gravel and under the gate (a task that proved impossible because the gravel bed is too dense), he earned his nickname: Persistent Forager or PF.

PF did not abandon us, returning repeatedly to eat the grass that grew up through the landscaping gravel in the front yard.  I appreciated this.  It saved me weeding.  I even worried a little about what PF would do when the grass was killed back by the cold.

PF Takes a Closer Look, Supervised By a Ring-necked Dove

I need not have worried.  A few weeks ago, after we put out a bird block for the winter birds, we noticed an odd sculpted panel along lower sections.  We figured it was caused by smaller birds that could perch on the edges of the concrete birdbath we used as a pedestal for the bird block.  Then we noticed PF was coming by, and soon after we caught him in the act of, once again, persistently foraging.

PF Takes a Bite

The birds don’t seem to mind, and we find PF’s company amusing, so we don’t plan to create any barrier to his enjoyment. That’s probably a good thing. PF, the persistent forager, would probably find a way around it.

 

FF: Do Subtitles Count?

November 23, 2018

Kwahe’e and The Snow Queen

Still far too busy and by the end of the day rather than curling up with a good book, all I’m good for is an episode or two of the anime Lupin the Third.  I do watch in Japanese with subtitles, so I hope subtitles count…

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King.  Audiobook.  This book would have been great even without the brilliant performances by the ensemble cast, but with them…  Wow!

In Progress:

The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge.  I read this years after it was winning awards.  Came away feeling the awards were well deserved.  Re-reading.  However, the complex world building does demand me to be alert.

Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip.  Audiobook.  Jim knows I love McKillip’s work, and found this for me on our library’s site.  Almost done.  I’ve read it before but still am enjoying.

Also:

Some beading magazines.  Not that I have time to bead, but I love the colors and seeing how creative some people can be with nothing more than seed beads and thread.

Thinking About Thanking

November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Bounty

Rattle, rattle, rattle, rumble, scrape, scratch…

Jim just trundled across the room.  He’s still using his walker, but he’s pretty much moving at his usual pace.  We’re hoping to see him graduate to a cane pretty soon, and to be able to dispense with pain meds even sooner.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.  My dad died from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease).  When Dad stopped being able to walk, he knew he’d never walk again.  For a man whose idea of fun was to go hiking through his forested property, locate a downed tree, then carry it back to where he could cut it up for firewood, this was hell.  Painkillers couldn’t touch what was hurting him.  He was dying by inches, and all too aware what was happening.  That broke his heart long before the disease had finished breaking his body.

Somehow Thanksgiving has come to be about wanting more, not being thankful for what you have.  The Black Friday promotions for pre-Christmas shopping have a lot to do with this, because, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, the emphasis is on the sales to Get More, not on reflecting on everything you have.

Did you walk to your computer?  Can you pick up your tablet or phone?  Instead of feeling sorry that you can’t get the latest model, think about the wonder that are those fingers that you can move, the legs you can walk on.

If you’re reading this post, you have something to be thankful for.  You can see.  You can read.  You can process information.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been immersed in caregiver mode and, I’ll admit, sometimes I’ve been too tired to think straight. Nonetheless, I’ve also known how lucky I am to be taking care of someone I can expect to get well.  That hasn’t always been the case.  The bulk of caregiving for my dad fell on my sister and brother, though I did what I could.  But, when I was in my early thirties, I cared for my then-partner, Roger Zelazny, through the cancer that killed him.  I was with him when he breathed his last.

But, you know, I’m thankful for that, too, because I was there and Roger was wonderful.  We lost against the cancer.  But we won, too, because we held on to each other til death did us part.  There are worse things.

Things to be thankful for are all around you if you bother to look for them.  The picture with this Wandering features ghost pumpkins that were a gift from our friend, Patricia Rogers.  The turkey pot was made by another friend, Mary Weahkee.  Jim made the wreaths…

Thanksgiving is not about Black Friday, folks.  It’s not about Turkey Day and football games.  Thanksgiving is about taking one day out of the 365 we’re gifted with each year to stop wanting more and take a look at what we have.

I hope you can find things to be thankful about – and if you’re caught in the dark, I hope you can find a way to reach for the light.

FF: Exhausted Slumber

November 16, 2018

Our Signed Copy of Snow Queen

Reading time is still being seriously crimped, but I manage a few lines before collapsing into exhausted slumber.

I’ve tried to read some short fiction but find that, oddly enough, interrupting my reading of something short does more to harm my impression of the story than picking up and putting down a novel.  Anyone else had this problem?

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Lieber.   Good tales, vivid imagry.

In Progress:

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King.  Audiobook.  This book would have been great even without the brilliant performances by the ensemble cast, but with them…  Wow!

The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge.  I read this years after it was winning awards.  Came away feeling the awards were well deserved.  Re-reading.

Also:

A few catalogs.  See above for my reaction to the short fiction I’ve attempted.

My Current Story (Life AND Fiction)

November 14, 2018

Thinking Wolf Thoughts

Yesterday, Jim had the staples removed from his knee.  Today the work begins on having the tub in the front bathroom converted into a walk-in shower.  In case you were wondering, life here has not settled down.  And that means I’m not doing much in the way of writing.

Since Jim’s knee replacement was to his right knee, he won’t be driving for at least another month.  This means that, for the next month, I’ll be not only running routine errands, but also taking him to his various out-patient appointments.  Definitely a change from my preferred hermit lifestyle.

Still, as the unpredictable elements diminish one by one, I find that my “writer brain” is slowly coming back into play.  A long time ago, I learned that it isn’t being busy that gets in the way of my writing, it’s when my imagination is occupied solving other problems.  As someone who solidly shoulders personal responsibility, I tend to address each problem as if it’s a logic tree: If this, then that.  If not that, then this.  And so on, often out to several branches.

That’s sort of how I write, too.  Not logic trees, but immersing myself in my characters and living the story with them – including weighing various choices as they would.  So, right now, I guess you could say that the story I’m writing is that of how Jim and I coped with having his right knee replaced.  As that story moves closer to being completed, I have more room in my imagination for other stories.

That includes the new Firekeeper novel.  A few weeks back, I left Firekeeper, Blind Seer, and some folks you don’t know newly arrived in the ruins of the original university in Azure Towers.  Why?

Well, that’s a bit too complicated to go into here.  But maybe, just maybe, I have time to go write a few more sentences about what they encounter before Jim’s physical therapist arrives.  Shall we see?

FF: Two For One

November 9, 2018

Keladry Contemplates Fafhrd and the Mouser

With Jim recovering from knee replacement surgery, my reading time has been seriously crimped, but I usually manage a little here and there.  Here’s what I’ve been reading these past couple of weeks.

For those of you just discovering this part of my blog, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Swords in the Mist by Fritz Leiber.  I’d forgotten how smart Fafhrd is.  Definitely not the dumb barbarian muscle in this pair.

The Moons of Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen.  Audiobook.   Quite good, although somewhat unevenly paced.  The opening parts seem to repeat a great deal of information, leading up to an ending that’s an emotional rollercoaster.

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.  Darker than many of her novels, but good.  The ending felt rushed, and left a few details out I would have liked to know.

In Progress:

Swords Against Wizardry by Fritz Lieber.  Much more coherent than the prior volume.

Also:

Some catalogs.  The items that people will buy and sell are endlessly fascinating.

What the Cats Think

November 7, 2018

Kel and Ruby: Supervisors of PT

Many thanks to all who sent Jim good wishes for his knee replacement surgery.  I’m happy to report that overall things have gone well.  He’s up and walking again (with a walker) and diligently applying himself to his PT.  Sure, there have been rough times, and there are certain to be more rough times, but he’s doing as well as could be expected.

Before the surgery, Jim and I did everything we could to prepare our household for the disruption that was certain to follow.  We stocked up on groceries.  We did lots of laundry.  We made up the bed in the guest room, just in case one or more of us would need it.  (We have.)  But there was one important issue we couldn’t deal with in advance: We couldn’t prepare the cats for all the changes to come.

(This is not to slight the guinea pigs but, although they interact with us, as long as someone shows up with treats and rotates them through their various domiciles, they’re not too picky as to which of their humans it is.)

Halloween night, when I staggered in from more than twelve hours at the hospital, the immediate question of “Where’s dinner?  In fact, now that we’re on the topic, where was lunch?” rapidly changed to “What did you do with Jim?”

The most immediately upset was Ogapoge, who thinks Jim is his personal property.  However, when I crawled into bed, I felt every cat take a turn walking up the bed and inspecting where Jim should be.  When they didn’t find him, they came and poked me, as if I might be hiding him.  However, they weren’t overly upset.  The last few months, Jim has had to be away for several days at a time, and they figured that this was more of the same.

They were more indignant when I vanished again on Thursday to spend most of the day at the hospital with Jim.  I work at home, you see, so I am supposed to be available at all times.  It probably didn’t help matters that I came home with Jim’s scent on me.  I found myself imagining the cats conferring, wondering if I might be keeping Jim imprisoned somewhere.

When on Friday I brought Jim home, the cats’ initial jubilation changed to consternation.  Jim smelled wrong.  He was walking funny – and never without this horrible rattling thing in front of him.  Again, Ogapoge was the most upset.  His pet was back but changed.  Kwahe’e was fairly mellow about matters but, at sixteen, he’s seen the world.  He came over, buffed Jim’s shoes, then went back to his basket.  Keladry was watchful, while Persephone – who is the most social – was mostly concerned because Jim would not let her jump up to sit on his lap from the right (the surgical side), only the left.

By this writing, the cats have all adjusted to the change.  Keladry has appointed herself Supervisor of PT.  Ogapoge forgave Jim when he learned Jim could still play with him and feed him – and that the rattling monster didn’t seem inclined to do anything without Jim’s supervision.  Kwahe’e figured out he could get up on the guest bed to check on Jim, so that was fine.  Persephone decided that the amount of time Jim spends sitting means there is more lap time available.

So we’re settling into a new normal here.  I’m not back to writing yet, and I probably won’t be for a while more, since my creative energy is going into finding new ways to do old tricks.  However, like the critters, I’m relieved to have Jim home again – and I appreciate how the rattling of the walker lets me know when he’s up and about and might need my help.

I hear it now.  Later!

 

FF: Pending…

November 2, 2018

Hi Folks…

Jim’s doing okay, but by the time I get home from the hospital, I’m too tired to do much on the computer.

Friday Fragments will resume, probably next week.  For now, tell me what you’re reading!

Kwahe’e: My Guardian!