Archive for the ‘Random Wanderings’ Category

FF: Growing Up

June 26, 2020

Roary: Still Growing Up

Sometimes I mention that I’m reading a book not yet in print, and that I’ll tell you when it’s available.  That’s the case with Growing Up Meathead by James B. Zimmerman.  See under “Also” for more about this thoughtful not-just-for-kids book.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Sequel to Trickster’s Choice.  Not a lightweight read, despite an overload of cute monsters.  I cried several times…

Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Also published as The Dawson Pedigree.

In Progress:

The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan.  Audiobook.  Trials of Apollo, four.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers.  As with her prior novel, a story in which timing is a key element.

Also:

Growing Up Meathead is a series of interconnected short stories based on the author’s own experiences as a boy figuring out what sort of person he wants to be.  “Meathead” is a well-earned nickname because, if there’s a dumb choice to make, Jimmy will make it.

Jimmy’s not a bad kid, a mad kid, nor is this one of those “problem” books that turned me off to so much in the “kids’ book” category, since every kid seemed to be dealing with Big Issues like drug abuse, gangs, or sexual abuse.  This is a book about being a kid: about dealing with peer pressure, about having a logic system with priorities completely alien to an adult mind.

The illustrations are by the author and, as the cover shows, don’t glamorize either Jimmy nor his life.  A bonus for me was that Jimmy is growing up in the same part of Maryland where I spent my summers!  (No, I didn’t know him then.)

FF: When Do You Read?

June 19, 2020

Mei-Ling and Roary Battle For the Throne!

Most of my reading these days takes place during a half-hour coffee break in the afternoon, and a little reading before bed.  Audiobooks are getting their major workout over the weekend when I’m doing crafts.  When do you read?

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  While marketed as the first book in a new series, really one needs to have read the four volume Raven Cycle to get the full impact of this novel.  That caveat aside, I enjoyed it.

The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers with Robert Eustace.  A collaboration in which the collaborator provided the science behind the intricate mystery plot.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers.   Complex plot with lashings of melodrama for flavor.

In Progress:

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Sequel to Trickster’s Choice.  Not a lightweight read, despite an overload of cute monsters.

Also:

New magazines have come in, but I can’t figure out which one I want to read…

Thursday Triva

June 18, 2020

Summer Squash in Bloom

This is a picture of one of our summer squash in bloom.  We quite admire them, and appreciate that soon we’ll have the basis for a delicious stir-fry or curry!

There’s a common southwestern jewelry pattern called a “squash blossom” that, in fact, doesn’t depict a squash blossom at all.

Do you know what flower it actually is depicted on a squash blossom necklace?

Saturday Snuggle

June 13, 2020

Roary and Dawg

Many, many years ago, when David Weber and Sharon Rice-Weber were visiting, they brought us a goody basket.  The goodies are long consumed, but the basket has been a favorite snuggle spot for many generations of cats.  Roary discovered it last week. Mei-Ling used it as a bed when she first came to us at about fourteen weeks old, so it likely smells like his best pal.

Mei-Ling in Basket

Where Did You Learn What?

June 10, 2020

Roary and Fordham Ram

I have several absolutely charming younger relatives who are in college right now.  Covid-19 sent them back from attending college away from home—or in one case, may keep him from going away to college next year.  They’re all smart.  All academically gifted.  They are definitely equipped to learn remotely.

But I find myself thinking about all the lessons I learned that I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t gone away to college.  One of the most important was learning how to deal with difficult people.  While I had many terrific roommates (shout out to Sue Koss, Kathy Curran, Rosemarie Connors, and Gloria Gonzalez, among others), I also had some ugly experiences as well.  These included three older girls coming into my room one night and trying to intimidate me into moving out.

Yes, Old Debbie, New Debbie, and Chris, I haven’t forgotten how you came to my bedroom doorway (we were in an apartment-style dorm) when you knew Sue was away and told me I should move out, ending with, “Do you really want to live with people who HATE you?”

I hope you remember this incident, too, and burn with shame that you could do that to an eighteen-year-old away from home for the first time, right after her parents had just split.  Why?  Because you wanted my space for one of your pals.

While that was the worst and most dramatic incident, it wasn’t the only such nasty event.

But I learned from it and, to this day, I know I can deal with bullies.

I learned to manage my time, a skill which remains incredibly valuable.  I learned to manage my money.  Ditto.  I learned how to interact with a wide variety of people in a wide variety of posts, because if I didn’t, there was no one I could turn to.

I realize in this day and age of cellphones and helicopter parenting, your average college students aren’t as thrust upon their own resources as I was, but still, I’d like to think that most college students want to try to solve their own problems before scurrying off to the folks.

There are other things I learned.  I was exposed to books and music that had nothing to do with my lessons, but which certainly shaped who I have become.  I learned that there are a lot of different sorts of family dynamics.  I heard wonderful anecdotes.  I played a lot of AD&D and Traveller.  I made decisions about drinking and drugs that had nothing to do with whether or not I’d get “caught.”

I learned a lot in college, both in the classroom and out.  Where did you learn your most valuable lessons?  I’d love to hear from the commuters, too!

Wolf’s Soul Copies Have Arrived!

June 3, 2020

Roary Romps With the Wolves

After storm and flood and wild, windy weather, my copies of Wolf’s Soul have arrived.  This means that those of you who wanted to order copies directly from me can now do so via my website bookshop.

I offer signing and personalization at no additional charge.  Prices include shipping via Media Mail.

While you’re there, you can take a look at other books I have available.  Especially as some of my earlier novels are becoming harder and harder to find, if you’re looking for a not-previously read copy, my bookshop may provide you with a most reasonably priced option.  Many of the books offered are first edition, first printing, and in excellent condition considering how many years have gone by since they were first published.

(There are advantages to living in a dry climate!)

I’m slowly updating other elements of my website as well, but my first priority is writing.  The fourth book in the Star Kingdom series is moving along nicely, so administrative chores come second to writing more about Stephanie and Lionheart, in the early days of contact between humans and treecats on Sphinx.

So, off to write!  Catch you later…

Attack Kitten

May 30, 2020

So, Roary is nine weeks old now.  He’s made friends with our other cats, include temperamental Persephone who was actually caught washing his head…  For your dose of cuteness, here are a few pictures.

 

Roary in Mid-Leap!

Roary Sticks the Landing. Note Mei-Ling in Tunnel.

 Roary does sleep occasionally.

Roary on Cat Post

FF: Pounce on a Good Book

May 22, 2020

Roary Pounces a Good Book!

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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:

Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham.  My library is woefully short on her works in audio, but I own a bunch in print.  This is a mid-late book in the Albert Campion sequence, when WWII has taken the shine off of the Edwardian age.  That transition is the underlying theme of this novel, far more the theme than the ostensible whodunit.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Audiobook.  Although less well-known than Sherlock Holmes, this is one of those books that keeps getting referenced by other authors.  Great fun and some truly excellent prose.

In Progress:

The Black Dudley Murder by Margery Allingham.  This is the book that introduced Albert Campion as a Bertie Woosterish twit, who might actually not be so twittish.  Allingham had no idea he would become the protagonist of so many future works.

Death On the Air and other Stories by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Also includes some non-fiction by her about her own work, and the script for a play.

Also:

Still writing on SK4 and enjoying watching Roary make friends with Mei-Ling.

Which Is Good

May 15, 2020

Dandy asks: “How About ‘Pearls Before Guinea Pigs?'”

First a reminder…  Wolf’s Soul, Firekeeper book 8, is now available as e-book from any major vendor or trade paperback from Amazon.com.

I just finished reading a proof of a forthcoming novel by a friend.  I’ll try to remember to mention it when it comes out, but for now I am sworn to secrecy.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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 Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham.  Audiobook.  Yep.  Another re-listen.  I enjoyed immensely and thought the reader was excellent.

In Progress:

 Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham.  My library is woefully short on her works in audio, but I own a bunch in print.  I haven’t read this is so long it’s going to be like reading a new book.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Audiobook.  Although less well-known than Sherlock Holmes, this is one of those books that keeps getting referenced by other authors.  I’ve never read it, so am going to give it a try.

Also:

Writing a lot means less reading time, but it does mean writing, which is good.

Seeds of Hope

April 8, 2020

On The Edge of Hope

If there ever was a hobby—or craft or skill or activity, whatever you want to call it—that is based around hope it has to be…

No.  Not writing. (Although there are days…)

No.  I’m talking about Gardening.

There’s a traditional rhyme about why you plant four seeds.

One for the blackbird

One for the crow

One to rot

And one to grow

There are a lot of variations of this rhyme.  I’ve heard “mouse” instead of “blackbird.”  Or “pigeon.”  Or even “farmer.”  Or “for the wind” rather than “to rot.” But the message is always the same.  Plant four times what you hope to end up with, because three-quarters of your effort will not benefit you personally.

I know that every garden I plan is—when looked at statistically—a preordained failure.  Nonetheless, I keep on planting.  Four times the seeds.  Extra plants.  This past weekend, we planted the containers that will hold flowers.  Since my allergy-related asthma has been revved up, I spread a tarp on the kitchen table, and brought the window boxes inside.

Last night, waking up in the dark hours, I realized I’d seriously over-planted marigold seeds, even by the guidelines of the aforementioned verse.  Oh, well.  If too many come up, I can always transplant them and give marigold plants to my friends, right?

As you can see from the picture, my new copy of DreamForge magazine arrived this week.  I think editor Scot Noel must have precognition because, long before the current national emergency, he had chosen “Tales On the Edge of Hope” as the theme for this issue.

What people miss so often is that there are two things we call by the word “hope.”  There is the dangerous hope, what you might call a gambler’s hope.  Roll the dice and hope for the best.  Believe things will get better, but don’t do anything to assure that they will.

This last sort of “hope” is typified by the “gardener” who tosses seeds in unprepared soil or in where there is too much or too little light.  Then forgets to water.  Then floods.  And says, “I hope I get some nice tomatoes this year…”

Call it hope, but you know what it really is, don’t you?  It’s wishful thinking.

The hope I advocate isn’t some light fluffy warm-and-fuzzy belief in the best.  Real hope is a fighter.  Hope is facing that you’ll plant four seeds, get one plant—and even that plant might not make it.  Hope is doing what it takes to tilt the odds in your favor.  Hope builds a lighthouse, draws maps, patches the roof. Hope says “What four seeds I can plant to assure that I have flowers and fruit?”

Don’t be fooled by wishful thinking. Make the real hope your battle cry.