Oct. 20th, 2014

So many tropes and yet Siege and Storm somehow managed to turn out a good ending.

It's rare that I can write off an entire day to reading, but due to the WBH taking today off to brew, last night's good soaking rain that makes working in the garden a muddy chore of no fun, the probability that the WBH will have to shut the power off for an hour or so whenever maybe to swap out a breaker so online work is going to wait until I'm sure I've got all the time I need, and an Audubon meeting tonight, my to-do list got pushed aside. Kinda feel guilty, but hey, I'll cope.

Leigh Bardugo's second book in the Grisha trilogy has that second book feel to it, complete with what seems to be the mandatory love triangle/quadrangle/whatever. I did a lot of skimming, thought about chucking it, and voila! around page 200 or so, the story got a lot better. The entire trilogy is in print and my library system has the third book. Second in the queue, which means it'll arrive about the same time as two others. Drat.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Oct. 19th, 2014

In theory, this is supposed to help me track how many books I've read this year; however, in fact, I'm not good at keeping track. Whatever, eh?

Jackaby by William Ritter - "lite" version of what an occult Sherlock Holmes and his perky female sidekick could be.

I give it a "C," with that grade being understood to be average.

"Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job,Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre."

Ya know, she snarks, any book that gets summarized with two references to pop culture has some problems, mostly that it tries too hard to incorporate those fandoms. It wasn't a bad book; it just wasn't a really good one. A little too contrived at points, a little too modern in its tone, and a heroine that periodically turned into a viewer, not an active part of the narrative. Might improve in follow-ons.

There are many things I like about YA; however, I'm really tired of the "is this twu wuv?" subplots and the cookie-cutter heroines. I miss the grit, the gray, and the brutality. Might be time for some non-fiction.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Oct. 17th, 2014

Around July or so, when it became clear that we weren't going to get off our respective butts and start working on this year's summer project AND the damn deer became regular fixtures in one of our orchards, I called a bunch of construction/landscaping guys. Of the lot, only one contractor showed up to look at our place. He was the guy. We discussed what I wanted, then he had to talk to us again to get the WBH in on the decision, and then time passed, in that way time has.

September rolls around, and it is finally time to begin. They get the new fence up around the orchard and begin the ill-defined terracing and landscaping project.

The dogs and I went into "do not like" mode. Yeah, it was great to see where they'd gotten to each day, but the noise! The dust (which the dogs liked and I did not)! The strange people with their huge machines! Suffice to say, it was very stressful for three of us, and this last week has been bad for himself, too.

Three weeks of dust, more dust, still more dust, misunderstood directions, fixed oopses, one astronomical bill (and another yet to come), and two days of huge tractors, five workers, and this vibrating compactor dingus that made the house shake was more than I could handle. The dogs weren't that keen, either, but they could be bought off by the workers with little handouts and skritches. I think I hid more often than they did. Couldn't concentrate on anything, so I blew more hours than I care to think about on Pinterest. Really, I need to block that site, but it gives me Something To Do when I'm stressed out.

As of this afternoon, I'd say we're at the 98% mark. Due to some scope problems, we're short a few parts that are on order. The last of the chips were spread into place, and all of the tools are gone. When I shut the gate at 1:30, a huge weight lifted. The strangers are gone, the soundscape is ocean/birds/and now rain, and the project is more or less what we wanted and mostly complete.

And, best of all, my beloved schedule can return. I think the dogs did better with all the changes than I did.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Oct. 8th, 2014

Concert did not kill me. Yay for that, she says in a tone dripping with sarcasm. The music was sublime; the attendance mediocre. For a tiny backwater, we've got way too many things going on every single weekend. Plus, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, an event three-plus hours away, took several of our regulars. Note to self: first Saturdays are bad; first Saturday of October badder.

Informatzia's proof arrived Monday. I need to spend some serious time with it to make sure all of the formatting is right and that I've done the first page with all the ISBNs, etc... correctly. The proof almost coincides with my first ever royalty payment from Amazon. Might frame the suckers, just 'cause.

I think I need to block Pinterest. OC sorts shouldn't have Pinterest accounts. I was going to avoid the whole thing, but then I realized how nice it would be to be able to see all of the sweater patterns I think I want to knit shown on one page...and that was a mistake. Must. Pin. All. The. Things! Also do not get why I should be notified when someone repins something I got from somewhere else anyway. The whole culture is mystifying.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Oct. 2nd, 2014

Still panicked about ticket sales, but there ain't much else I can do except fret. I'm very good at fretting.

Since fretting means my brain isn't up for much other than the aforementioned fretting, I bring you two very different books.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Once I got used to the writing style, I really quite enjoyed it. Seems weird that I nearly threw the thing across the room first time. For me, this was like discovering that everything I thought I knew about someone was wrong. Since my teens, I've read a lot of Henry VIII era biographies. Thomas Cromwell has never been a hero in any of them. Nope, he was always the evil architect sort, manipulating and plotting and doing evil. Not so here! Here, he is a complicated man, basically good, more or less. Thomas More, on the other hand, is not a good man. I kinda sorta knew he wasn't the saintly man of conscience as in "Man for All Seasons," but that's the image I've carried with me for a very long time. It's one of those works that keeps working its way into my back brain. After a few months, I'll start "Bring Up the Bodies," but this isn't the sort of thing one should rush into. There are lots of things to mull over first.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was an entirely different novel. This is yer basic fantasy novel. You could fill your trope bingo card in the first chapter. Feisty young girl with hidden power. Check. Orphan (sigh). Check. Power revealed under duress. Check. Uber guy is sexy as hell and all about her (and her power). Check. Childhood sweetheart. Check.

If I had to come up with one of those elevator pitches, I'd say it's a Russified Harry Potter wannabe in that there are divisions of magic users and a quest.

There is nothing surprising in this book. If you've read more than, say, six fantasy novels, you know how it's all going to come out. It was still fun.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Oct. 1st, 2014

What's that I hear? Is it the impending clunk of a concert disaster? Well, not a total disaster, but ticket sales are not going well. I'm too depressed to work up a good cuss. Had we managed to get the original dates, sales would probably be better. Unfortunately, due to a wonderful deal for the artists that meant the only date we could get was this Saturday, we are now in conflict with events that our regular audience loves. We've sold just enough tickets to repay our expenses. In theory, everything else gets split between the radio station and the artists, but I suspect that we'll eat our expenses to pay the artists something.

This is exactly the scenario that made me drag my feet for two years before agreeing to produce concerts. This is also a reminder that one of the rules I had made for myself was that there must be at least a calendar year between gigs. This is, technically, over a year, but 2013 and 2014 are too close together.

We've promoted the hell out of this thing, too. I don't know what else we can do, but I'm going to try to come up with something else tonight.

Two more days of ticket sales. Usually, we sell up to a third of our seats in that amount of time, and I really hope that trend holds true.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Sep. 12th, 2014

I have much to say. I have little to say. Mostly, I'm tired.

Let no good deed go unpunished. I volunteered to help with a local ballot initiative. What sounded like a simple website gig turned into actually being a real volunteer. That'll teach me. Meetings, emails, website approved, website suddenly a problem, website yet again approved.... I spent this afternoon putting stickers on envelopes for a mass mailing. The internal editor keeps asking me why am I doing this? And then I remember that the initiative is to support our local volunteer fire department, the only help any of us yokels are going to get when we dial 911. So, peel the label off the sheet, stick it onto the envelope, smooth, repeat. Move this link to that position, resize some text, fight the CSS that keeps breaking in freaking Opera and nowhere else, and keep coding. The whole thing is over in November. I can cope.

The new local Audubon year is about to start. I do their website. I also seem to be in charge of everything Photoshop related. Must have the rack card ready for Monday. Did I mention I started it today, Friday? Mocked up. Out for feedback. Let's hope the printer can turn the thing around on a few hours' notice.

Just *this* shy of putting Informatzia out and a dear, dear friend offered to read for me. Never turn down a first reader. She has quibbles. I am in no mood for some of them, but a reader's quibbles are worth reading. So much for my birthday deadline. I haven't had the time or energy to open the document, armor my ego, and start the slog. Still need to finish the cover. I am not an artist. Really miss my artist, but she has real life and no time.

I need to get 2015's concert schedule underway, as well as work on the last two for this year. The last two are at a new venue for us. Worrying about problems with one of the people involved with the site, not sure about whether we really need or want to get involved with food, and trying to secure two people to play bartender. I just want music. Too bad I never get to really enjoy the music we bring in.

Haken's eye still looks terrible. At least it's plumped up. For a frighteningly long time, it looked like a half-inflated sack of goo. He's finished with the second round of antibiotics. Still on his eye drops. The eye weeps constantly. Can't leave him for very long, because there's always something or other that needs to be given to him. However, he's acting more like a dog, not a dying thing. Gave up a little trip north to keep up with his meds.

Book read: first in the trilogy that "Call the Midwife" is based from. Absolutely lovely book. Sure, Jennifer Worth repeats herself (there are times each chapter reads like an installment), but the prose is charming.

Currently reading: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. Hated it the first time through. The Fabulous Connie insisted that I read it and gave me an audiobook version of it for Christmas. Listening to it was a whole different experience. Mantel's idiosyncratic punctuation and leaps between past and present were smoothed by the reader. I read much faster than I listen, so I gave in and bought a copy used. Truly enjoying this.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Sep. 1st, 2014

The morning's music was the STUC centenary CD. I feel like I ought to be marching in the center of town, banner held high, except my "town" doesn't really have a main street. Ambling down the dirt road doesn't make much of a labor statement.

Instead, I'm honoring Labor Day by doing actual work. This is my cool down break, after wrestling with the ten-year-old fuchsia that swallowed the front steps into submission. There are many more outdoor jobs to tackle, and I promise to jump right to it. Yeah. Real soon now.

This month has too many mandatory meetings in it. After much pondering, I decided what I wanted to do for my birthday was to head north a few hours, poke around in a couple of cemeteries, do some birding, and maybe rent a kayak for half a day. Three days ought to do it, but trying to find three days isn't working out very well. That'll show me for volunteering to help out with a local ballot measure (two days), Audubon (three days), and Radio Sunday (two days). Pout mode on.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Aug. 28th, 2014

Last Friday's concert nearly did me in. Instead of our usual cool fog, that overly warm yellow thing filled the sky, roasting me while I lugged three and a half cases of wine up a flight of stairs, plus all the usual concert gorp, including cases of water and ice chests. The WBH was busy helping the sound guy lug his equipment into the hall to help me. I had to run all over the Coast to pick up the remaining tickets from one venue (the other sold out), get donations of coffee and cookies, and buy dinner for the musicians and us. I was sweaty and peeved by the time I got back and had to immediately start brewing coffee and doing the rest of the set-up while a fluttery woman tailed me so she could buy a ticket. I asked her to come back in an hour (or she could have offered to help). She continued to follow me around, all the while explaining that she'd do just that but she had to just share whatever the hell it was she needed to share before finally disappearing. Not a good way to start a very long night.

The band, Molly's Revenge, did a bang-up job, or at least the fifteen minutes here, five minutes there, and only a wee bit of the second half that I got to see were good. Well, when you give a party, you don't get to play. I had to spend most of the second half getting the bar packed up and lugged out to the truck in the dark. My guy made the mistake of asking if I'd had a good time. No, not really. I spent half an hour or so icing my back when we got home, sipped some whiskey, and took a couple of aspirins after I got out of the shower. I need another me.

We spent the next day at a memorial for a friend. I hadn't expected his death to hit me so hard, but there I was, sobbing, a thing I do not do in public. There's still so much music to share with him, so much gardening knowledge that he hadn't gotten around to sharing with me. I'm taking on his house concert this January, already emailing with the artist, as a thank you to his memory.

And then there's Haken. His eye was almost healed. You could still see the hole and there was still clouding, but you could see the iris again. And then something happened yesterday evening to that eye. He let out a terrible yelp and staggered into the house. I flushed his eye with his drops, but he still couldn't really open it. I've tried every couple of hours since then, and while he can now open the eye, there's obvious damage. So, back to the vet we go. We were just there Tuesday to the tune of $400+, and now we go back.

Since I'm feeling all grumpy anyway, I'll end with a review of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman - this could be retitled Mary Sue Goes to Fitness Camp. No, really. The Showtime series is brilliant. When I spotted this book at a friend's house, I asked to borrow it, hoping for some more information on some of the characters. The show has a lot more characterization than the book does. The book is incredibly shallow. Oh, poor Piper, poor self-pitying Piper, an educated and entitled cutie who made a little mistake and got caught. Piper/MarySue is friends with everyone. They all love her. She spends her days doing yoga and running and missing her boyfriend. During one of her work assignments, when presented with an empty room and a full-length mirror, she strips to admire her toned body. Kid you not. This is not a prison drama; it's a fitness camp diary.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org

Aug. 16th, 2014

The price of living is dying. It's a simple enough concept, but every time I get *that* email or phone call.... Well, it's not simple at all.

After being struck down last Christmas, he fought like hell to get better, was getting better, and now all that's left is to go to his memorial.

I've got a wonderful memory of him, one that I'm going to share. We met him through our shared love of music. Every January, he would host Scottish singer Jim Malcolm as a house concert. 2013, after the concert was over and the crowd had winnowed down to just a few and the craiq was very good, I caught his eye and we toasted each other. "This is the best," he said. Good friends, wonderful music, a wee dram, and the warmth of a shared evening. I'm going to embrace that late night glow memory of him and fold it into my heart.

God speed and bless to you, Brent. You are a good friend, an excellent gardener, and a philosophical soul. I'll see you on the other side and we'll heft a toast to music and love.

Cross-posted from dreamwidth.org