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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spring?


Why yes, those are my favorite spring bulbs, and snow.   Yesterday.    You know, after my birthday.    When it's not supposed to snow anymore.     Sigh.     At least it's gone today.

Stars of Darkover - ed. Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters

Is it bad that my overwhelming thought about this anthology is that I’m glad that there was no one story that was just so amateurish it completely threw me out of the world of the book?    Most of the older anthologies had at least one of those stories, and I don’t know if the quality in this one is a reflection of the fact that they’re screening more heavily, or that because this series has been in place for while, you’re only getting seasoned veterans that are really looking for it.    I suspect the latter is a big part of it, which is actually a shame, because the inclusion in that original fan world was a wonderful thing.

These stories span pretty much the whole history of Darkover – I particularly enjoyed the origin stories- there were two stories about the origins of some of the family gifts – in this case, the Alton and Ardais gifts.    I know MZM has passed on, and who knows if this in any way fit her original vision, but it’s so nice to read things that fill in those blanks.

Knitting Notes


So this is Pyukkleen, so very close to being done, but for reasons that will soon be pictorially clear, will not be finished in April.

This is three casts ons, and one slight rip back, in.   Lesson number one of colorwork: if at all possible, print the pattern in color, for reference.   Lesson number two: if at all unclear about which color should be the dominant color, find a color picture, and take good notes.

That said, I've very much enjoyed making this.     It's an interesting process, and I can totally see doing more.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mackworth Island State Park, Falmouth, ME















The greening of the forest, with bonus eiders.

Phoenix and Ashes - Mercedes Lackey

This book is in Lackey’s Elemental Magic series, where fairy tales are told against the Edwardian era, with elemental magic (Air, Water, Earth and Fire) thrown into the mix.

This book is Cinderella, but set in the time of World War I.    Eleanor Robinson has been chained to the hearth of her home by her stepmother, Alison.   Alison is an Earth Master who uses the evil side of the Earth powers, and bewitched Eleanor’s father into marrying her, and then convinced him to enlist, where he was promptly killed.    Unfortunately, she was not able to get him to change his will in time, so she needs to keep Eleanor around to control her fortune.  

Reggie Fenyx is the son and heir to the local baron.     He’s a pilot, and Eleanor, a bit of a tomboy, had been among the boys that went to the airfield to admire Reggie’s plane.    Reggie naturally enlisted in the army, and was shot down over France.     He ended up buried alive in a bunker for several days, which is bad enough for a normal man, but Reggie is an Air Master, and Earth is the opposite to his element, so he was plagued by the bad earth elementals that were drawn to the battlefield until his rescue.      He’s badly afflicted with shell shock, and has been sent home to recuperate.

At the same time, Ellie discovers that her mother was a Fire Master, and Ellie may have inherited that full power.    Helped by her godmother (her mother’s friend, the local witch), if she can learn to harness that power, she may be able to escape from her step mother’s spell.  Things become more urgent when it becomes clear that Alison will stop at nothing to get Reggie to marry one of her two daughters.

You absolutely know where this story is going – it’s is Cinderella, after all, but it’s done so skillfully in this setting that there is still an element of suspense.      It’s nice to put a real face to the Prince – Reggie has his own journey to go through in this story, and while Eleanor has people giving her guidance, she’s really the one that seizes her own destiny, and wins her way free of her step mother.     It’s a great book.

Arthur - Stephen R. Lawhead

This in the final book I had read in the Pendragon Cycle, back in the day (aka, high school).    It was also formerly the last book in the cycle – and it’s very much an end book, so it would appear that the two books that come after it take place in time frames covered by this book, as this book starts with Arthur taking the sword from the stone, and ends with him going to Avalon, gravely wounded, after the battle with Medraut.

These books have always taken their own path through Arthurian legend – Arthur is the son of Aurelius, not Uther; when he takes the sword from the stone, the other kings will not immediately accept his High Kingship, so he takes up Uther’s old title of Duke of Britain instead; Gwenhwyvar is an Irish queen (in her own right) and warrior – I could go on.  

As I’ve noted in my rereads of the previous two books in the series, this is also a very Christian book.    Again, perhaps not in a modern way that would tie into any particular flavor of Christianity of our time, but it’s a contrast to many other modern retellings where the struggle between the pagan religions and Christianity coming in is much more pronounced.

The other thing about this book it’s very compact compared to the other two.    I think that’s partially because the other two really do deal with the life of particular person (or two – Charis and Taliesin, and Merlin), and while this book focuses on Arthur, it’s about more than just him – it’s the whole Summer Kingdom.   I suspect that’s why the author chose to expand the series.     And now I’ve tracked those two books down (as well as a sixth book – Avalon, which is apparently a modern day postscript).     So I’ll be out of reread territory, and into something new.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Garden Notes


I moved the Swiss chard and Tuscan kale to bigger pots today.

This means officially giving up on the nasturtiums and sorrel.    I guess sorrel seed has about a two year shelf life.    (Too bad mine never went to seed.   It would be nice to be able to save seed - the seeds are so tiny I'm wasting a ton per pack.     And they've never had it at the farmer's market again after the first year I go it.)