pameladean: (Libellula julia)
My friend [ profile] guppiecat is posting photographs of animals, birds, and insects daily. He has done this erratically for some time. He is an amazing photographer. Sometimes, on account of the great photos and other work he has done to benefit zoos, he is let behind the scenes to see and photograph things most people don't get to see.

He has also been writing about each photograph. The narratives are tragic, hilarious, informative, whimsical, surreal. Prairie dogs performing Shakespeare and lizards for the use of amateur rock climbers are just the beginning.

I heartily recommend this series to your attention. These posts are unlocked.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
But good news just the same. Patricia C. Wrede and I have sold a collection of all our Liavek stories plus a new one by Pat and a new one by Pat and me, to Diversion Books. I just got the signed contract back in the mail this week, so now they have 270 days to do their thing. The collection is presently called Granny and the Benedictis, though I think we are hoping for a better title to present itself.

We did this because when we were writing the Liavek stories originally, our stories kept intertwining and our characters kept running into one another. When Pat first proposed the collection, I did not plan to write anything new, being in a bad slump as far as writing went and struggling mightily with far too many stalled-out projects of my own. So Pat wrote the new story, a kind of overview (a kind of one, it's gorgeously strange) and gave it to her critique group. Then she came to me and told me that most of the questions they had were about my characters, and she could not answer them. She said she would write the necessary additional scenes if I would consult with her. The story is such that scenes can be written in a variety of times and places. They need to connect to one another, but not in the way of a usual narrative. So I told her I'd try to write a few, and went home and suddenly hammered out several in the course of a few days. Then I did some more, and then Pat did some more. Then I gave the story to my critique group, who had a number of pointed comments about muddy parts, which we have tried to clear up, at least to the extent that we did not want them to be muddy. It was all far more entertaining and pleasant than I'd expected. The scenes that I wrote were also germane to the Liavek novel I'm still plodding through, so they served as a kind of research into my own imagination.

Pat did most of the work of assembly, including becoming impatient with my slow pace and retyping one of the two stories whose files had gotten corrupted. I did the other, "The Green Cat." The form of corruption was weird and fascinating. Parts of the story were there, but parts had been replaced by sections of several of my novels. I have a very vague recollection that this happened because I had failed to remember the difference between double- and single-density disks while doing backups, but it's all a long time ago now.

The stories held up amazingly well. I did find a couple of instances of problematic language. In some cases I tweaked them a little. In others, the language was part of the relationship between two characters and is explicitly addressed by one of them in the novel, so I let it alone.

Our timing was not completely fortunate. Will Shetterly and Emma Bull had decided that they wanted to reissue the Liavek anthologies, but by the time they told us so and asked for permission to reprint our stories, we had already signed the contract with Diversion Books. Still, there are new stories, and I had a lovely time working with Pat again; so I can't at all regret the project.

I'll let you know when the book's available, and also when the other Liavek reissues are available, so you can have a complete set if you like -- or at least as complete a set as the vagaries of time and chance allow.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So the pilot light in the upstairs oven has been out for a while. I kept meaning to relight it, but I am stupidly afraid of natural gas; and more to the point, I couldn't find the location of the pilot hole. It was in a readily evident place on our previous stove and on the old downstairs stove, but I couldn't find it on the upstairs stove, despite repeated usage of a flashlight and of various strange postures. I finally believed that I had found it, but it was way in the back of the oven. Lydy and I had each set our hair on fire shortly after we moved into this house, lighting pilot on the old downstairs stove, which was right in the front of its oven; so I just kept putting it off, and when I needed an oven I would carry a pan of lasagna or roasting vegetables or macaroni and goat cheese or cornbread down the stairs, which wasn't hard, and then up the stairs when it came out of the oven, which was harder, especially as Ninja frequently accompanied me to see if I would let him upstairs to play with Cassie.

This evening I came upstairs after feeding and playing with the visiting cats, and smelled gas as soon as I came into the library. It might have been an overripe litterbox, but I didn't think so. I went grimly into the kitchen, with the smell of gas getting stronger, and opened the oven. Yep. I had never smelled gas at all in all the time the pilot had been out, so I felt something must have gone wrong somewhere.

I told Raphael, and looked up what to do on the Centerpoint Energy website. They said to get out of the house and call them and call 911. I felt that this was excessive. I called them; while I was on hold, Raphael asked if it was time to box up cats, and I said it was. Raphael got Saffron boxed. A woman answered the phone at Centerpoint. She asked me a bunch of questions, which I answered, said a technician would be along as soon as possible, told us not to use the phone again or turn on or off any light switches or other appliances; and strongly recommended that we get out of the house. I encountered Cassie fleeing from the open carrier, shook the food bag to lure her, scooped her up and handed her to Raphael.

Then I went down to the basement and woke David up. He asked if all the knobs on the stove were turned off firmly. Yes, they were. He got up, understandably annoyed. I started hunting for cat carriers. We have two medium-large ones upstairs, which Raphael had put Saffron and Cassie into. We have three small ones downstairs. Arwen is too large for those but they are fine for the other three residents. We also have two very very large carriers that Raphael got to move Jordan and Minou of beloved memory from Arizona to Minneapolis. Lydy often uses one of these to take both younger kittens to the vet. I couldn't find that one. I found a small one in Lydy's office and gave it to Raphael, who caught Ninja or Nuit and put him/her in and took it out. I found another small one in the basement. David pointed Nuit out to me, and I captured her with much hissing on her part and put her into the other small one and gave her to the returning Raphael. I unearthed the generally-unused gigantic carrier from under a stack of laundry baskets and put Naomi into it. I texted Lydy demanding to know where the other carriers were. She was at work, so I didn't feel I could call her. Arwen had vanished. David began to look for her. As I went through the living room, all the visiting cats came out. I retrieved the single cat carrier belonging to them, and they all vanished, too.

I hunted for the goddamn remaining small and gigantic cat carriers and could not find them. Not being able to turn on lights was unhelpful. David went upstairs and reappeared to say that he could not smell gas. I said I really, truly had, and went on looking for cat carriers. I almost caught Grout as I went by, but she eluded me. On another pass through the living room I almost got Mora. I went out to check in with Raphael, who was keeping the cats company on the front sidewalk. The technician arrived and went upstairs. I called out the location of the kitchen to him, but perhaps he didn't hear me over the beeping of his meter. He came back down and asked someone to show him the kitchen. He seemed much more blase than the woman on the phone. I went up with him, showed him the kitchen, and at his request moved all the pots and dishes and stuff from the stove-top. He checked whether the burner pilots were on, as I had; then he opened the broiler and checked inside it with a flashlight.

Then, while removing a long thin telescoping device and a box of matches from his pocket, he told me that Centerpoint had put too much odor in the gas today, and asked if the person on the telephone had told me that. No, actually, she hadn't. He re-lit the oven pilot, which was way way way in the back of the broiler. He said it certainly was stinky in the upstairs, but his meter didn't show gas accumulation. It only smelled strongly of gas because they had over-odorized the gas and there was a tiny amount from the unlit pilot. He recommended leaving a couple of windows open, apologized for any inconvenience, and went his way.

I went back outside, and took Ninja and Nuit in their little carriers into the media room, where I discovered David holding onto a very annoyed and wriggly Arwen. He said he couldn't hold her much longer and had been wondering where I was and where the other cats were being put. I said outside on the sidewalk, which information he received with the kind of disbelief only possible to people who have been awakened from a sound sleep and couldn't actually smell the gas. He let Arwen go. I explained what the technician had said. I let the little kittens out of their carriers. Nuit's had apparently not been used for some time: she was covered in cobwebs. Raphael took the upstairs cats back upstairs. I brought Naomi in in her gigantic carrier and let her out. She was not covered in cobwebs. David opined that Nuit was a good cat to dust the carrier, but that Nomi would have done a better job. This was in fact the case, given that Naomi is larger and furrier. Either the disused gigantic carrier was not full of cobwebs or it was so large that she could not dust it in the time provided.

I apologized for not letting David know what was going on for so long. He went back to bed. I came upstairs.

I am going to get more cat carriers.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)

Everybody is fine.  There are no mice in the house -- possibly to the disappointment of the cats, but not to my own.

Eric and I started camping this year.  He has backpacking ambitions that I do not share, but I suggested that I could accompany him on early jaunts to check out various aspects of the activity.  In mid-May, we borrowed a very nice three-person tent from my brother and camped in the back yard.  This taught us useful things about how many warm clothes one needed for a night in the upper forties, and gave me practice in getting out of the tent and putting on my shoes in the middle of the night before heading for the bathroom.

On the Wednesday before Memorial Day, we drove up to Temperance River State Park and camped in their campground.  The rental car was a little tiny Fiat, but we were only staying one night and managed to cram all of our stuff into it.  We arrived too late to buy firewood from the park office, but we did get the tent pitched before dark.  I had reserved the campsite, so it was backed up to the bathrooms -- the real bathrooms, with hot water and flush toilets.  This worked out fairly well for a person of so many nocturnal risings.  The campground was nearly deserted when we got there.  We had a cold dinner, I think, and made our major non-practical discovery: Temperance River State Park is a very good place for star-gazing.  I hadn't expected much because our previous excursions to Lake Superior, including one during the peak of the Perseids, had all involved heavy fog.  But it was a clear, dry night, not a wisp of fog, and the sky was stunning.  We wandered around the deserted campsites between us and the lake, craning our necks, for several hours.  I had brought the astronomical binoculars that David and Lydy most kindly gave me a couple of years ago, but we never actually got them out.  It was not the right time of the year to see the Milky Way, which is disposed all around the horizon then, but Corona Borealis, Coma Berenices, and many other fine sights were visible.  And Eric taught me about the Polaris clock, which was actually useful when I got up later to use the bathroom and had no idea what time it was.

The temperature got down into the thirties that night, but fortunately my sleeping bag, a gift from Eric, is extremely warm and I was able to hand over my unnecessary sweats for him to use with his summer-weight light quilt.  The next day was sunny and warm.  We had a cold breakfast and went down to the mouth of the Temperance River, which was breathtaking.  The lake was very calm, and you could see where the river was mingling with it by the color changes and the rapidly calming local agitation of the water.  Then we hiked up the Temperance River past various marvels I am hoping to upload photographs of before I post this.  There is a lot of geology on the Temperance River, and some extremely ancient rocks, and waterfall after waterfall after waterfall.  Near the lake the river is far, far down in a potholed narrow gorge where hidden falls alternately hide in the shadows and catch the sunlight to show that root-beer color of all the Lake Superior rivers, which uniformly have their origins in peat bogs and are full of tannins.  Later the river widens but is no less rocky, and you get shallower, terraced falls and rapids.  The trees were leafing out in Minneapolis, but this far north they had barely begun.  The birch catkins were out, however.  One could see far into the trees, dark spruce and pale birch, last year's leaves paving the ground, ferns and mysterious wildflower rosettes just emerging.

That was our May trip.  On June 7th, we borrowed Lydy's car, B (for Behemoth) and went to Wild River State Park.  This time we had firewood; we also had my brother's Coleman stove.  We took a very pleasant, albeit mosquitoey, walk along part of the Trillium Trail, and then cooked our first outdoor meal.  Thai Kitchen rice noodle soup, when well augmented with tofu, spinach, scallions, and red bell pepper, plus extra soy sauce, sesame oil, and chil oil, made a very substantial supper.  The evening cooled off fairly quickly and the mosquitoes retreated.  We had made a fire just in case the Coleman stove was cranky, so we sat beside it seeing things, cityscapes and Martian landscapes, in the flames and embers until it burned itself out.  Then we went to look at the sky.  Here we got the fog we had not had at Temperance River, but there was a moon and a moonlit foggy meadow and a few stars visible overhead, so we were contented and went to bed with grand plans for a long hike in the morning.

Temperance River and Wild River both say that their tent pads are "sand and gravel."  Temperance River piles its tent pads with wood chips.  Wild River does not.  We each had a single sleeping pad.  I have never slept on such a hard surface in my life.  Every part of me that touched the ground was sore well before morning.  We were both so sleep-deprived that we decided not to do any major hiking.  Besides, it was a warm day and the mosquitoes were out in full force to make up for having had to abdicate the evening before.  We heated water for tea and coffee, ate some random picnic food from the cooler, and packed up.  We did take a scenic route back, and stopped by William O'Brien State Park briefly so that Eric could see their prairie restoration.

So that was our camping experience before we went back to Temperance River on September 15 through 17.

In the meantime we had discussed and researched the question of sleeping pads, and Eric had pointed out that having two light foam-pads was much cheaper than buying one of the cushy inflatable pads, so in the end I handed my pad over to him because it was a bit small for me, and ordered two larger Thermarest light-weight pads instead.

Eric also made and tested an alcohol stove, using a 5.5-ounce cat food can scrounged from our copious supply, and a hole punch.  He made a windscreen of heavy-duty aluminum foil and a pot stand of hardware cloth, and bought a two-person cook set: pot, lid, and a clever pot-holder that could double as a handle and also allow one to remove the lid without burning oneself.  He successfully boiled water on his back deck, and later we took the cookset out into my back yard and cooked a cup of Uncle Ben's Instant Brown Rice, which upset the ants a lot but was perfectly edible.

That was our out door cooking experience before we went back to Temperance River.

We -- by which I mean I -- don't do well with early departures, and we only see one another once a week, so we planned to drive as far as Duluth on Sunday evening, the 14th, stay in a hotel and eat at the Duluth Grill, and then go on up to the park the next day, in plenty of time to buy firewood and set up camp before sunset, which was alarmingly earlier than it had been in May.

Eric arranged to collect the rental car at 3:30, meaning he would probably arrive at my place around 4:30.  I was still scrambling to get everything ready when he texted me to say that he was running late and would tell me about it when he saw me.  He arrived at 5:30, and I was actually ready.  The rental car was a Volkswagen Tiguan -- they were out of subcompact economy cars.  This was lucky on two counts.  The first was that Eric had chosen Enterprise for several reasons, among them that they will come and pick you up and take you to the car-rental facility.  However, they only do that on weekdays.  So he bicycled over to get the car, and halfway there a pedal fell off his bike.  He said that biking with one pedal was faster than walking, but it wasn't any fun.  The Tiguan, however, was more than large enough for him to load the bike into so he could take it home and get his stuff.

When we drove north on I35 to Wild River, we had decided to wait until we were out of the Cities to get gas, and ended up in a suburban morass in both Arden Hills and Columbia Heights that even Google Maps had trouble getting us out of, and lost a lot of time.  So this time we waited until Lino Lakes, and pulled off at a Holiday right by the exit ramp, with a very clear path back to the freeway, and got the gas.  Eric put the key in the ignition, and the car took exception to this and locked the ignition up.  There was no owner's manual in the car.  There never is.  I guess people must steal them; I don't know, but it's very annoying.  Volkswagen tech support was closed.  Enterprise didn't answer its phone.  Eric finally gave the steering wheel a violent yank to one side, and the car condescended to start.  Eric explained that he had once had the same thing happen with a U-Haul truck and tech support for U-Haul told him to yank the steering wheel.  He had tried this at once with the Volkswagen, but apparently the maneuver needs to be done with a lot more violence than seems reasonable.

We were late enough getting to Duluth that we just went straight to the Duluth Grill.  We discovered this restaurant in May.  Before it opened, the only place in Duluth (other than the excellent co-op) that was vegan- and vegetarian-friendly was Pizza Luce, which is well enough, but not something we have to drive to Duluth for.  The Duluth Grill grows vegetables and herbs in its parking lot and is perfectly clear on the concepts of vegetarian and vegan.  They have some odd prejudice against soy -- you get coconut milk to put in your coffee if you don't want dairy, and their go-to vegan protein is chickpea-flour polenta.  This is a little dry when made into an "omelette," but really delicious when cubed and fried as protein substitute in a stir-fry.  I can also eat fish and goat- or sheeps-milk cheese, so there's a fair amount of choice for me on their menu.  The first time we were there they were perfectly fine with making the ratatouille, which comes with polenta, in the vegan form, and then letting me have the goat cheese that goes on top of the regular version.

Eric and I split an order of onion rings, because we were hungry.  He got the bleu cheese dip and I got the ketchup.  I then had fish tacos, which were excellent.  Eric ordered the Wrenshall pasty, which comes with bleu-cheese-and-bacon coleslaw.  He was quite confounded by the extreme richness of the pasty crust and the high proportion of beef in the filling.  We took half of it, along with one of my tacos -- the onion rings were pretty filling -- back to the hotel, had a relaxing evening, and went to bed.

I was awakened by a loud thump, and saw that Eric was not in bed.  I called out to him and got no answer.  I leapt up and ran to the bathroom, where to my horror I found him lying flat on his face, and not responsive.  I ran back and got my cellphone, and then thought that 911 would ask questions I didn't have the answers to and that Eric would be irate if he had to go to the ER for no reason.  I spoke to him and patted him, and got some groans in answer.  I took a closer look and saw that there was what seemed like quite a lot of blood soaking into the hotel carpet where his head was.  I spoke to him again, and this time he spoke back, leapt to his feet, took one look at himself in the mirror, and bolted into the shower.  He said a few minutes later that he had looked like Oliver Wells playing Banquo's ghost, only with somewhat less blood.

I got his glasses for him and a wet washcloth for his head wound, which was swelling and still bleeding.  Then I put on some random clothing over my pajamas and got some ice.  Once he was established with an ice pack, he started looking for the number of his insurance company's nurse line and I started looking up head injuries on the internet.  WebMD terrified me, but I looked at the size of his pupils and asked the questions they recommended, and all was fine on that front.  There was no joy on the number for the nurse line, however.  Eric had had his wallet stolen a few weeks ago, and didn't have a new insurance card yet.  The number apparently is only on the card.  I did a search for public nurse lines in the Duluth area, but every nurse line now is locked up tight with an insurance company.  Before Pawlenty got his claws on Minnesota's budget, HCMC had a nurse line that anybody could call for free.  I used it a number of times when David and Raphael and I were all uninsured in the early years of this century.  But Pawlenty cut all useful things' budgets, and the nurse line is no more.

Eric emailed his doctor, since he couldn't call anybody useful.  I cleaned up the blood in the bathroom and soaked the towels in cold water.  "Cold water for the marks of blood," I said, remembering Mrs. Williams unnecessarily giving this advice to Jack and Stephen in Post Captain.  It worked, too.

Eventually it had been two hours and I checked Eric again, and he was still fine, aside from feeling as if he had been punched in the face, which of course he had.  We discussed the situation.  His pasty and the unexpected richness of the meal he'd eatenhad disagreed with him, which is why he had gotten up in the night; and the hotel has very high toilets.  He used the term "vasovagal reaction" and felt that unconsciousness had preceded and been the cause of the head injury rather than proceeding from it, so there was really no reason for alarm.  I stated categorically that we couldn't possibly go camping now and that he shouldn't drive home either, and sent email to my household and family.  Eric remarked mildly that he didn't think it would be necessary for anybody to come fetch us, and decided, he told me later, not to argue about the camping at the time.

I decided that he didn't really need to be checked every two hours, as WebMD recommended.  I gingerly cleaned up the scalp wound with the rubbing alcohol I had brought along for tick bites, and found in my toiletries kit a large and ancient bandaid dating from the time I spilled boiling peppermint tea down my front when I had the flu.  It was just the right size for the lumpy bleeding head injury, so I applied it; and we tried to sleep.  I kept waking up and making sure he was breathing, and around six a.m. I did wake him up and make sure he was lucid.  He was momentarily quite puzzled at why I was behaving so oddly, but finally said, 'Oh!  You're checking on me!"  Sometime before that I called the front desk and got our checkout time extended by an hour, which was as much as the very nice man at the desk could do without consulting his supervisor, who came on at 11.

At 9 my brother called me back and I talked to him in the bathroom.  He said he could come and get us any time.  Lydy had also said that she or she and Steven could come get us, though not until the following day.  David volunteered the use of his car, but had to work.  Lydy's car was showing the Check Engine light, which was why she either needed to use David's car or come in Stephen's.  Raphael looked up bus options for me.  This was all very cheering.

I hated to do it, but I woke Eric again so we could consider the options.  He checked his email, and most miraculously, there was a message from his doctor.  She asked a bunch of questions, but basically said that if he had been unconscious for less than five minutes and had none of a list of alarming symptoms, he should be fine to continue his trip, camping and all.  So I dithered for a while, but the doctor's remarks were really quite clear.  She, too, used the term "vasovagal reaction," which pleased Eric immensely, since he had called it the night before while the blood was still streaming down his face.  I emailed everybody to say we would continue on our trip; Eric also emailed with details of what his doctor had said.

I had gotten some of the blood out of the carpet the night before, but the stain was still there and still wet.  Once we were dressed and packed up, Eric found the housekeeper and warned him about the blood, and left him a large tip.  We threw away the leftover pasty; I ate my fish taco; and we packed the car.  We were of two minds about the Duluth Grill, and I was still of two minds about Eric's driving anywhere.  He suggested that he drive a bit and we could both see how it went, and we ended up going to the Duluth Grill with the intention of seeking out something light.  I don't think anything could have been heavier than that pasty, anyway.  Eric had a basic breakfast that included a nice side of kale, and I had the vegan version of their breakfast skillet, which was a bed of hash browns lavishly covered with hominy and black beans and salsa.  Their salsa, like all of their condiments, was made on the premises and extremely fresh and tasty.  I also had a nice pot of Darjeeling, given how short of sleep I was.  I called my brother and took him off alert and thanked him profusely.

It was becoming increasingly clear even to one of my worrying disposition that Eric was fine except for a stiff neck,  a large lump on his forehead and various scrapes, so we admired the flower-and-vegetable gardens in the parking lot one last time, and drove north out of Duluth to Temperance River.

We loved the drive, the changing topography and the changing trees and underbrush, the glimpses of the lake, the full-on views of the lake, the road cuts through fresh pink or weathered gray or black blocky igneous rock.  Fall color was not much advanced.  Some sugar maples had turned or partially turned, and the sumac was strongly considering the matter.  The grass on the sides of the road was full of tansy, asters, and goldenrod in full bloom.  We stopped at the park office and got our firewood, though we had to go back for a map and a fire starter.  Our campsite had a resident chipmunk, which presented itself almost at once, in case we should want to feed it anything.  The campsite had a view of the lake, not so much framed as somewhat obscured by a handsome couple of birches.  Still, you would just glance up, and there at the end of the road was the lake.

The campground was full of darners.  There was a mown space near the bathrooms, surrounded by shrubs and taller vegetation, in full sun at the time we arrived.  Darners sailed and darted through the air as thick as the leaves that were not yet falling.  There were a lot of mating wheels.  The one darner that landed on the wheel of the car was very probably a Canada darner, and all the ones whose color I could see were blue and brown, so mosaic darners of some kind or another; but they were too active to provide much information.  In between them and lower down swam large numbers of yellow-legged meadowhawks in red or amber, hovering and turning after gnats and no-see-ums.  On subsequent days, the meadowhawks were less in evidence, but there were always many darners.

Our campsite was decorated with ferns and a lot of seeding fireweed.  The fluffy seeds blew through from time to time and occasionally drew a darner to mistake them for something edible.

We, by which I mostly mean Eric, though I held things down a time or two, pitched the tent, and we put our pads and sleeping bags and night things into it.  Then we set off in the remaining light to climb Carlton Peak.  This sounds more impressive than it is, but it was fairly steep in spots.  In other spots it was flat and boggy, and once it was steep and boggy.  The trail is part of the Superior Hiking Trail, and winds among spruce and birch trees.  It was packed with exuberant ferns and brilliant moss, set off by the occasional clump of asters and one gorgeous set of orange-spotted mushrooms that Eric pointed out and photographed.  Here and there granite interrupted the trail or the hillside.  There were a lot of young, bright spruce saplings crowded under their elders.  And many, many fallen birch logs, which do give an understory an air.  Eric was keeping an eye out for places that I could sit down if I needed to.  My knees have been acting up recently and sometimes they have a small tantrum.  He told me that he had marked some nice birch logs as possible seats, but as it turned out, they were shells held together by the tough birch bark, while their centers had rotted out.  As we got higher up, there was more and more rock, til the trail was a mixture of twisting spruce roots and granite, some of it level and some not so much.

It was a three-mile round trip, which I could do on the flat easily enough, but things kept getting steeper.  I finally had to sit down; Eric found me a nice rock and then scouted ahead and came back to report that the summit was not very far off and had actual benches.  So I toiled up the remaining slope, and there was a little flat spot with two benches, large and small spruce and birch trees, random pieces of granite, and glimpses of intriguing prospects through the trees.  It would be very interesting in early spring.  We had tried to climb to the peak in May, but the obvious way there -- Carlton Peak Road -- started out unimproved and rapidly degraded into not there at all.  The little Fiat was not up to the task, so we turned back; hence our eagerness to find a better way.  I'd found a Yelp! review that helpfully said that one should take Sawbill Trail instead and find the parking lot and trailhead for the Superior Hiking Trail.  Eric confirmed this with his SPT maps, and so we succeeded this time around.

The summit was full of pale fluttering insects that, when finally persuaded briefly to land, turned out to be tiny, tiny moths; probably very fancy ones if one could see them through a camera lens or binoculars, but they were too busy dancing in the sunlight to alight anywhere for long.  It got chilly, and we reluctantly started down.  There were far more views on the way down, when we weren't scrambling and keeping an eye ahead.  They were still fragments between the trees, but very pleasing nonetheless.

The trail crosses the road at one point, so I sat on the steps there and let Eric go the last little way to the parking lot at the trailhead, collect the car, and then collect me.  He had hoped there would be views of the lake from the summit, but the area was too leafy.  But when we drove back down the road to the campsite, Eric pointed out the lake to me.  I had, with my Midwestern eyes, interpreted it as a dark gray band of cloud on the horizon.  I had a lot of trouble making the shift in perspective to see that it was a body of water below us, until we were close enough to see some variation in the color of the water.

When we got back to the campsite, Eric actually cooked on the alcohol stove, occasionally watched by the chipmunk.  We had whole-wheat couscous with a packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix and some chopped onion I'd brought in the cooler; then we added broken-up silken tofu, soy sauce, and olive oil at the table.  It was surprisingly tasty and sustaining.  Eric made the fire and we sat by it while the sky darkened.  It took a long time for the fire to burn down and I was very sleepy when it finally had.  It was a clear dark night.  Sitting in our campsite with the light on the bathrooms blazing away, we could see the Cygnus portion of the Milky Way with its dark rifts.  We walked down to the lake and saw the stars inside the Great Square of Pegasus, and as a special treat, with our unaided eyes we saw the double cluster between Perseus and Casseopeia.  I've seen it through a telescope by the kind auspices of [ profile] jiawen, so even though it was just a misty patch, seeing it with my eyes was exciting.  Eric was also very pleased to see Fomalhaut, which he is still used to being higher in the sky in the Bay Area.  It was low but perfectly visible.  And we saw Delphinus, which is a constellation I always like to admire.

It was cold and late, so we went back to the tent and went to bed.  When I got up for the inevitable bathroom trip, parts of the sky had clouded over, but a patch that held Orion, the Pleiades, and Mars shone out, while the half-moon disported itself with a triple rainbow ring all around.  It was a windy night, air roaring through the birch and evergreen trees; and you could also hear breakers crashing on the shore of Lake Superior.

In the morning the alcohol stove provided hot water for coffee or tea and for instant oatmeal, which we had with soy milk.  The chipmunk raced through the campsite several times.  I don't recall at exactly what point it came right up to Eric and later to me and looked expectant, but it only did that once, apparently deciding that we coudn't take a hint.

Eric had gotten up before I did and gone down to the lake and over to the mouth of the river, where he saw a merganser running on the water to get past the turbulent place where the river entered the lake.

We had decided to leave the decision of whether to stay a second night until we had spent the first night.  I had had some trouble with the organization of my possessions and the need to crawl in and out of the tent repeatedly, which my knees didn't much like, but in the lovely morning I decided I could take another night of it.  I'd promised to let Raphael and David know what we decided.  This meant we had to charge up our cellphones with the car charger and find some wi-fi.  Eric had always wanted to see Grand Marais, so we put all the food into the car and drove off along Highway 61.  Most regrettably, we had forgotten to bring any music, or we might well have played Dylan.

This drive was also interesting, with more and more views of the lake and a sudden change in the topography, and in the height and nature of the trees; then another sudden change back so that the landscape looked more as it does near Tofte and Schroeder and Temperance River.  Every time we crossed a creek or river we gaped in whatever direction was handy, either towards its mouth at the lake or upstream.  Many of the rivers were far down in rocky gorges, some almost invisible; a few were wider and more placid.  We also passed Five-Mile Rock, which I mistakenly recalled as the cause of the Mary Ellen Carter's demise, but I remembered about a week later that that was actually Three-Mile Rock.

Grand Marais was windy and quite cold.  I liked it, perhaps possibly because of a strong literary background in seaside towns.  I kept thinking that this or that place would be an intriguing one to stay, and wanting to go into bookstores.  Eric found it too touristy, but was glad to have gratified his curiosity.  We stood by a wall overlooking Lake Superior for a while, looking at the red boulders and gravel and a flock of gulls, and then stopped for gas, since it was either cheaper or the same price as at the Holiday in Tofte.  Eric had taken advantage of the cellphone service to check the weather forecast for Wednesday, which said showers, but didn't say when.  I was able to text Raphael and email David from my phone, but the phone had been behaving oddly in the matter of text messages, so eventually we stopped in the parking lot of an IGA where there was a little piece of the 4G network, and I called Raphael and left a message.  David was at work, so I didn't call him.

We drove back to our campsite, which was much warmer than Grand Marais, and made sardine salad with more of the onions, mustard, and vegan mayonnaise.  I then discovered that Coborns' had delivered the wrong bread.  I'd ordered Breadsmith Honey Whole Wheat, but we had gotten an English muffin bread instead.  Fortunately, unlike many English muffin breads, it contained no dairy.  It was a nice enough bread, but we both much prefer whole grain.  The lunch was quite satisfying, though, so we set out to explore another portion of the Superior Hiking Trail.  Eric was interested in actually seeing some of the campsites set up for the hikers.  At Temperance River State Park they are contradictorily near the Cross River.  Our lovely hike up the river in May had been heading for those campsites, but we didn't have time to get there before we needed to drive back to Duluth.  It was, in fact, six miles, which is way past my abilities at the moment.  Eric consulted the increasingly useful maps for the trail, and discovered that the trail we had followed from the mouth of the river crossed a road before heading for the campsites, and that there was a trailhead and some parking at the side of the road.  So we drove to the trailhead, which put us three miles from the campsites rather than six.  I was still very dubious about how far I would get, but we started out, figuring that we would just see.

Before we started up the trail to the campsites, we went down to look at the river.  There was a waterfall with a lot of flat slabs of granite to walk out on; the falls at that time was a thick thread of brown water tumbling down a narrow space and then widening out into rapids.  Eric took some pictures, and then we set out on our explorations.

It was a sunny, hazy, somewhat humid day, and we were both soon covered with sweat.  The mix of trees in the forest was very different from that going up Carlton Peak.  There was a lot of maple, basswood, and some oak, and comparatively less birch and spruce.  Eric also noticed at some point that trees we'd been carelessly categorizing as yet more spruce were actually hemlocks.  The way was very boggy in places, with pretty good boards laid across the marshier bits, a lot of shrubbery I couldn't identify, ferns, moss, purple and white asters, and some wildflowers I didn't recognize.  It was as beautiful as the other section of trail we'd hiked the day before, but less austere.  It was also, if possible, even steeper.  Eric went ahead to check things out a couple of times and spurred me on.  In time he told me cheerily that the next bit was so steep that there were actually steps.  Well, there were logs laid across and the earth between them had been gravelled, but it was all on a sufficiently steep slant that I told him, "I am going up this on my hands and knees, and I am coming down it on my butt."  After the first half of this intention had been accomplished, there was a flattish bit and some more fragmentary but pleasant views.  Fall color still was not at all advanced, but the sugar maples were turning; some were all blazing red or orange, some were still half green.  They stood out like beacons in the overall green of the forest.  Mosquitoes came out and bit us in a desultory way when the breeze died.

We reached a steeper area, and Eric scouted ahead again.  This time he came back shaking his head and said that he could not in good conscience take me up any more slopes like that.  He'd hoped that the trail would go along the side of the bluff, but it was now clearly headed right over it.  I apologized profusely for not having gotten in better shape, but he said he was quite satisfied with the progress we'd made; it was getting actually hot, and more full of mosquitoes, and he knew more than he had before.  Also, of course, the trail was beautiful.

We went back down, again seeing different views that we were at more leisure to appreciate.  I have occasional failures of proprioception, not really vertigo, but a general feeling that I don't quite know whether where I want to put my foot is a good idea.  If I have something to hold onto, or even just to brush lightly with my hand, I'm fine, but I tend to suddenly get paralyzed when there is no convenient tree or railing.  I believe this to be a side effect of one of my medications.  Eric was extremely patient, giving me his hand whenever I developed the idea that if I took another step I would fall off the trail.  And I did, indeed, go down the so-called steps on my butt.  Luckily, I was wearing a pair of men's cargo pants from Land's End (women's cargo pants don't have good pockets, to my intense annoyance).  They were described as "stain resistant," and while I didn't really care about that when I bought them, it was true and came in handy.  The dust and dirt had dropped off my pants before I took them off that night.

We had a conversation later that evening when I reminded Eric that we had also hiked a piece of the Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth when we were up there in May, and that the trail seemed to me to be all of a piece, like a series of gardens designed by one person.  He said it had probably been scouted and marked out by one person.  The bits of the trail that I've seen have a meandering quality with a lot of attention to fairly small views, through the arches of leaning trees or over large rocks.  There are many small-scale exquisite bits: twisting spruce roots over pink rock with a patch of moss and a scattering of orange leaves; ferns between birch trunks; ferns around rocks; fallen birch logs covered with moss and bracket fungus; boulders decorated with lichen and leaned over by more ferns.  It's extremely pleasing to look at at almost every turn.

When we got back to the campsite, Eric started the fire at once to try to keep the mosquitoes at bay.  It was very smoky, which did keep them at bay but annoyed us in a different way.  The wind was variable, and mostly blew the smoke right over the picnic table.  Eric eventually became a human bellows until the fire was hot enough not to smoke.  Then he lit the alcohol stove, again watched intently by the chipmunk, and cooked a couple of packets of Thai Kitchen instant rice noodle soup.  We added tofu, onions, spinach, soy sauce, and olive oil at the table, and it was once again tasty and satisfying.  Then we sat or lay around near the fire, moving to avoid the smoke when the wind changed.

The sky was clouding up.  We had some brief glimpses of constellations as the clouds moved away in the wind, but more clouds kept coming up.  At last we admitted that we would not have another evening of star-gazing.  Eric said he was completely prepared to go to sleep at 8:30.  I said that I didn't think I could do that.  I normally go to bed at 1 a.m.  In any event, it took the fire long enough to die down that it was between nine and ten when we went to bed, and I was plenty tired enough to go to sleep.

At some point in the night, I heard Eric make a sound like "Baaaph!" followed by the very calm remark, "I think there's a mouse in the tent.  Something ran over my face."  My supremely wise response to this was, "Jesus Christ.  Where are my glasses?"  I knew where they were; I'm not sure whom I was addressing.  I put my glasses on.  Eric located the mouse with his flashlight, I unzipped the tent flap, and we crowded together well away from the opening while Eric chivvied the mouse with the light.  It did not want to be in the tent at all, and ran featly around the extreme edge, got lost in my raincoat briefly, and then went out.  It was a plump, sleek little mouse.  Eric said, once we had zipped up the flap and gotten settled again, that when he felt it run over his face it was very obviously a mouse -- little tickly feet, brush of fur, weight not that of an insect, maybe some body heat too.  The unfortunate sequel to this event was that some time later I heard or dreamed that I heard a rustling right next to my ear, in my raincoat.  It was the second night in the tent and I had not heard anything like that, though there were plenty of noises outside.  I told Eric I thought the mouse hadn't left, or there was another one.  We opened the tent flap again, but didn't actually see a mouse, so we shut it up once more and tried to go back to sleep.

In the morning when the light was beginning, rain began plopping and pattering onto the tent.  I kept hoping that it was just dew falling off the trees -- this had happened at Wild River -- but it went on for too long.  It was not, in the end, a great deal of rain, just enough to mean we had to pack up things while they were wet.  We had a bit of a scramble to get fed and dressed and packed.  The chipmunk ran along the concrete curb and carefully checked out the alcohol stove, then raced down the road towards the lake.  We left before the time we had decided was the latest we could leave.  We had lunch in Duluth at the Duluth Grill.  I don't actually recall what Eric had this time. I got their breakfast stir-fry in the vegan version, with the cubed polenta, onions, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, and a huge bed of amazing kale, with a side of red flannel hash.  This meal amply made up for any lack of vegetables while we were camping.

We had an easy drive back to Minneapolis.  It was hot and sunny there.  I was exhausted, not having really gone back to sleep after the second, probably imagined, mouse incursion; but Eric spread the tent parts to dry in the back yard.  I undertook to check them before sunset and put them away if they were dry, but in fact he drove home, unloaded his stuff, returned the car, took his bicycle to Sunrise Cyclery, got new pedals, and arrived back at my house in time to pack up the tent himself.

ETA: There were no mice in the house when I began writing this entry, but Lydy informed us this morning that she had found a dead mouse in the sunroom in the formerly cat-free zone, now occupied by the temporary cats.  So at least one of them is a mighty hunter.

Also, I want to get this post up and it is quite long enough, so if I do post photos, I'll put them in a separate entry.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
It is seldom in this house that anything at all is done without feline assistance.  This has been particularly true since we have had temporary cats in the formerly cat-free zone; these guys, who are wonderful cats, belong to friends who got divorced and lost their house.  Grout, one of the temporaries, helped me sort my mail yesterday, and Spackle would very, very much like to be hired to keep the tablecloth from coming off the dining-room table.  She has been persuaded to guard David's duffle bag of lighting equipment instead.  Mora has not yet seen a task worthy of her, but I am sure the time will come.  Ninja and Nuit downstairs and Saffron upstairs help make beds.  Cassie watches everybody eat and wants to clean plates.  She also helps pack suitcases, and she helps me cook by trying to clean up anything that I drop on the floor and watching the whole process narrowly.  Naomi takes on a purely supervisory role and makes a lot of suggestions.  Arwen, like Mora, has not really found many tasks that are worthy of her talents, but she will often help hold a book or magazine open or make a person rest by holding said person firmly in place.  She's also a good masseuse, having large paws and a dedicated stomping routine.

This afternoon I was sorting laundry on top of the dryer.  There were upstairs towels and downstairs towels.  Nuit leapt upon the dryer and flung herself onto the first towel that I put in the downstairs pile.  I accordingly put the other downstairs stuff on the open door of the dryer.  For some time she showed no interest in the upstairs pile, and I became careless, piling the washcloths high.  Suddenly she tried to head-butt the washcloths.  I put my hand out to stop her, and she banged her head into it with considerable force.  The towel she was sitting on slid off the dryer; it vanished between dryer and wastebasket, and Nuit landed plumb in the wastebasket, compressing several weeks' worth of dryer lint.  She levitated out again before I could even draw breath to laugh, and vanished into the back of the basement.  I put the towel back into the laundry monster, removed the rest of the towels to their destined storage places, and went to find Nuit.  She was washing her face on the edge of the uninstalled Jacuzzi.  Fortunately she didn't bear me any ill will.  I suspect that she thought she had offended the washcloths and they had shoved her off the dryer.

Ninja, who witnessed the entire thing, was more upset about it than she was and insisted on helping to wash her.


Ten Songs

Aug. 30th, 2014 05:18 pm
pameladean: (Libellula julia)

I'm having trouble making regular posts even though I write them in my head all the time, but I thought this might be fun.

I don't have an iPod or an MP3 player other than the computer, which is connected to a vast labyrinthine music server containing things of interest to the entire household; so what I am actually going to do is to list is ten songs I have hunted down on YouTube recently because I had an earworm.

Dar Williams, "Iowa"
Placebo, "Every You, Every Me"
Kat Flint, "Go Faster Stripes"
Kat Flint, "Anticlimax" (not on YouTube, had to use Spotify)
Suzanne Vega, "Gypsy"
Adrienne Pierce, "Lost and Found"
Richard Thompson, "Wall of Death"
R.E.M., "Wall of Death"
Rumpke Mountain Boys, "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts"
Meg Hutchinson, "Let's Go"

Some of these are on the music server, but a severe earworm may require playing through seven or eight muddy videos of live performances, where available.


pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I don't play cards, or any games at all, but I backed this Kickstarter anyway because Laramie is a very talented artist, and I expect to get lots of pleasure just from looking at the cards.  People with more normal human instincts should enjoy the game, however; it's related to Uno and Zar, but much prettier to look at, and with other improvements as well.  I've known Laramie for decades and always enjoyed her art.  Please give this a look if you like games, fantastical art, or both.  It's a very difficult economy for nearly everybody, and in some ways particularly hard for creative people trying to make it on their own -- but you can donate as little as a dollar.  The campaign has 15 days left to run.

Here's the link:

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Nothing like this has ever happened before, so it's very exciting.  Here's the link to The Online Photographer, where the print sale is happening:

And here's the link to David's LJ if you want a brief introduction:

There's a large print of the photo in our dining room, and I very seldom pass it by without at least glancing at it.  I am biased, naturally, but I think it's an amazing photo.  Do take a look and see if it's the kind of thing you like.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much at all.  I have really no idea why.  I write posts in my head all the time, but they never make it to the screen.  Since one must begin somewhere, I'll begin with Raphael's and my latest hike.

We went out to find dragonflies last Wednesday.  It was a cloudy day until late afternoon, but the only day of the week without major chances of thunderstorms all over it.  We went first to a park on the Mississippi in Wright County.  There's a picnic area with the world's most cramped porta-potty ever, and there's a boat launch area with a parking lot, a mown area right on the river with a couple of benches for people to admire the view, and a surround of mixed woods and shrubbery and a little bit of meadow.  We went specifically to see American rubyspots, a kind of damselfly.  I've also had good luck seeing birds in this area while Raphael is photographing the odonates.

The river was very high and fast.  It's usually ten feet or so down from the banks, and there's a place where an outfall pipe drains water into the river where we have been able, in the past, to walk on the mud and sand of the shore amongst the roots of enormous cottonwoods.  That area was flooded well up the tree trunks, and the muddy bank down which we've scrambled was under water.  I seldom go there with Raphael without at some point planting myself on a bench and watching the Mississippi go by.  It's usually slow and quiet.  That day, it was racing along and gurgling and rustling in all the trees and plants it usually can't get at.  It was visibly wider and full of rills and ripples.

The boat launch area was just a shallow half-circle of gravel, its usual gradually-descending length completely covered with river.  The park people had had to take out their rolling dock and leave it in the mown area by the parking lot.  Dragonflies were landing on it when the light brightened, but they weren't very cooperative.  There were clubtails, female common whitetails that I disgracefully misidentified as four-spotted skimmers, and an actual four-spotted skimmer.  On the emergent vegetation and shrubbery next to the river were numerous bluets (another kind of damselfly), stone flies, a single glittering tortoise beetle; and, yes, a handful of American rubyspots, fluttering around and flashing their vivid red spots, sitting with wings folded on grass blades or dead sticks, and delighting the eye whatever they did.  We also saw some twelve-spotted skimmers, mostly on the wing; and some Eastern forktails, an undersized damselfly with a bright green, black-lined body and two blue segments near the end, without which I never really believe summer has begun.

At some point I went over to the picnic area to use the horrible porta-potty, and coming back flushed what looked like a female widow skimmer.

We heard more birds than we saw: American redstarts, eastern bluejays, gray catbirds both mimicking other birds and wailing like Siamese cats, song sparrows, goldfinches, and yellow warblers.  I actually saw a catbird warbling away, mixing up song sparrow and robin and bluejay notes with wild abandon.  I saw a single yellow warbler from a distance.  But the best bird we did not hear at all.  We were coming back to the car, which we had parked by a fallen tree.  We used to park under it before it fell down.  A tiny blue-gray bird with a white eye-ring and a black stripe on the top of its tail flew down to the fallen trunk and started poking around.  We walked slowly to within six feet of it.  It really didn't mind us at all; whatever might be in the log was too interesting.  It was as insouciant as a chickadee.  Raphael stealthily removed the lens cap that had just been put on in preparation for leaving, and ended up dropping it.  This was a terrible affront, and the bird left.  I dug out the Sibley at once, however.  I looked under chickadees, but there was nothing like it.  It had also reminded me of a kinglet, so I checked that family next, and there it was -- the blue-gray gnatcatcher.

Then we went to Lake Maria State Park.  This is another Big Woods remnant, like Nerstrand, though I believe less extensive.  The drive to the boat launch and picnic area by the lake goes through a gently rolling landscape of basswood, oak, and maple, with a gorgeous green-lit part that is all maple and has no understory, just fallen mossy maple branches and previous years' leaves.  We started to see dragonflies swooping past, and flying up from the road, in fairly large numbers.  We stopped at the Rare Turtle Crossing; the turtle in question is the Blandings turtle.  We didn't see any turtles.  The dragonflies were mostly chalk-fronted corporals, with a smattering of dot-tailed whitefaces.  There were white-faced meadowhawks, too.  I tried to encourage the chalk-fronted corporals to land on my shirt, which they have been known to do by the dozen; but I think the sun wasn't strong enough to tempt them.  They did dart under my hat for mosquitoes several times.

The turtle crossing is a low section of the gravel road with a large pond on one side and a smaller one on the other.  As I walked to where the concentration of dragonflies was greatest, I noticed a number of shallow scoopings in the sand under the gravel of the road, as well as several deeper ones.  When I passed them again in pursuit of a corporal, I saw that the deeper scoopings were littered with rolled-up bits of white, leathery-looking material.  I think those were the shells of turtle eggs, and the scraped-out places must have been turtle nests, and I just hoped the turtles had hatched and made it to the water rather than the eggs' having been eaten.

We went on to Lake Maria.  There were corporals basking on the concrete parking markers, seven or eight to a piece of concrete sometimes; and on the picnic tables; and on the trees.  We went around to the lake shore.  The picnic tables there were all sitting in pools of water, looking forlorn.  There's a path through the higher ground between parking lot and lake shore, with short paths leading at intervals down to the lake.  We saw that the park had put thick boards held together with two-by-fours down in two places so that people could get out to the fishing dock.  We went out and admired the lake and its fringe of rushes.  The sun had been in and out a lot, as clouds moved in and away again.  Right now it was cloudy but the light was fairly strong.  Raphael pointed out the effect of the light on the lake water, which looked like molten metal, and we watched it lap past for a while.

There were a lot of mosquitoes and we were getting tired, so we used the palatial state-park vault toilet and drove out of the park, through the green undertree light, speculating about what spring wildflowers might be here, before the mosquitoes.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
[ profile] elisem is having a major sale of everything.  Beauty, sorrow, whimsy, anger, joy, and contemplation, in pretty much any combination you could desire.  With titles that make stories start up in your head.  Go look.  And if you cannot buy, go ahead and comment.  I have one and a half necklaces that I could not afford because I remarked on them longingly and kind generous people bought and gave them to me.  You never know.  Besides, it is good for the Lioness to have the comments.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
If you are friends or fans of Becca Leathers and Graham Leathers: they could use a bit of help right now. Their PayPal address is Every little bit will help at the moment.

That's all I know.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Two excellent projects:

Tim Cooper's "The Reader: War for the Oaks".  [ profile] timprov started by taking photographs of impressive landscapes or buildings that happened to have a person reading in them somewhere -- I got to sit in a sunhat on a bench at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden on what I suspect was, for a photographer, an inconveniently bright day, with a glorious, almost hallucinogenic, autumnal photo as the result -- and then decided that the project needed more structure.  So he has taken photos of people reading Emma Bull's War for the Oaks, one of the defining works of urban fantasy, in all the locations mentioned in the book, including some that had to be concocted because, after 25 years, they are no longer extant.  The photographs are amazing and varied (I got to read by the fountain in Loring Park, the giant dandelion of my LJ title), and if the project is funded, they will all be gathered into a book for easier delectation.  You can also get note-cards with your choice of the photographs; or just kick in a dollar in the general spirit of helpfulness.  Here is the link:

Via [ profile] tithenai, A Bird is Not a Stone, a collection of translations of Palestinian poetry, one of them contributed by Amal, who is a stupendous poet in her own right.  The book is finished, but the Kickstarter is intended to broaden its reach and help it to find more readers.  Here's a link to Amal's post,, and here is a link to the Kickstarter proper, .  And here's an excerpt from an interview with one of the editors:

Some of the poets selected their poems directly, others were selections suggested by the House of Poetry. Like many things on this project, it has varied between poets – some of the Palestinian poets have been highly engaged, others less or not at all. The wider Palestinian section was curated by Murad al-Sudani and Sima Ali Keishe at the House of Poetry, and the final selection in the book has been curated by Liz Lochhead, Henry Bell, and myself – I guess the general principle has been that the House of Poetry and/or the Palestinian poets themselves have selected poems that they felt were worth publishing, and that much larger body has been whittled down based on considerations of space and to an extent how well the poem transferred into versions by the Scots poets. Also, because trying to organise poets is a bit like herding cats we ended up with more duplicate English versions than we expected and could handle, so some of those will be published on the book’s website in PDF format.

I really like the sense of poetry bursting through attempts to organize it and running rampant in this paragraph.

Go forth if you like and support these fine endeavors.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Simple but elegant, this year.  I am very excited about the interview.

For the reading, I haven't quite decided yet, but I'll probably read from a short story called "Strategy and Tactics Among the Mermaids."  It's not finished yet, so I continue my years-long habit of experimenting on Minicon audiences.

Here's the schedule:

 SAT       4:00 PM         Krushenko's

GoH Interview:  Catherynne M. Valente
    Pamela C. Dean
    Catherynne M. Valente 

 SAT       8:00 PM         Ver 1/2

Pamela Dean - Reading

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So when I got up this morning and staggered to the computer, blearily clutching my yoghurt and water and my pillbox with the anti-hypertensives in it, I started my morning routine and saw that Weather Underground had changed its format.  There is probably nothing wrong with the new one and I'll be used to it in a couple of weeks; but it's the first thing I look at after I check my email, and I was taken aback and cranky.

Then I decided that Adobe had been bugging me long enough about doing a "video update," so I carelessly told the persistent popup to install, already.  I don't know if it was really Adobe -- though they do always try to sneak MacAfee past me when I update things -- but I ended up with something that messed up my Firefox Start Page and kept popping up ads and exhortations to update this or install that, all things I did not recognize.  After a lot of poking around I discovered that the right name for this nonsense was Trovi.  Aside from the obligatory sponsored link, all the first hits were to pages telling you how to get rid of it.  I poked around more to make sure these weren't somehow compromised too, and then did what they told me, which involved downloading and running four different anti-virus, anti-malware programs.  Trovi is not technically a virus, they said, but it might as well be.  It appears to be gone now.

This all made me late running my errands, and I forgot to eat any lunch.  I deposited a check at the uptown TCF and then, feeling very woogly, ducked into Lund's for some kind of sustenance.  They used to have a really nice tuna salad sandwich, but I came away (studiously ignoring the sushi, which seemed too complicated to manage) with a hummus and vegetable wrap.  The vegetables were fresh and they had put fresh cilantro in it, but they seem to think hummus is a condiment like mustard, to be applied with care, rather than the entire protein source of the sandwich.  However, it did the trick, so I took a bus over to the Whittier Clinic and finally completed a three-day saga during which I ran out of my diuretic while my doctor didn't get to the refill request and then denied it without having anybody tell me why, or even that, she had.  The kindly pharmacist had to wrangle this information out of the clinic on Wednesday, and give me a week's worth to tide me over.  Then I had to make an appointment with a different doctor, because mine wasn't available until May 2 and, despite having noted that I needed lab work before she would refill the prescription, she hadn't actually issued an order for it, so I had to see an actual practitioner to get the order for the lab work.  The other doctor, whom I saw yesterday, was puzzled, because while he said it was useful to do lab work occasionally, it wasn't mandatory to refill the prescription.  They would usually refill the prescription and send me an email or a letter telling me to make an appointment.  I will say for them that the lab work was in my email inbox within six hours, and it all looks fine.  In any case, today, Friday, the pharmacy gave me the proper month's worth of my medication, this providing me with a nice five-day cushion in case of weirdness next month.  I had planned to walk home, but the lettuce wrap was expiring and I was grumpy and also for some reason uneasy.

I came home via the alley and the back yard, so as to admire the snowdrops and see if the crocuses were more than half an inch high.  I cannot report on this issue, because as I came up the path I saw a black object on the woodpile that I took for a crow.  Then I saw that it was a cat.  Then I saw that it was OUR cat.  I assumed it was Ninja, since he has the reputation for boldness.  I called him, grabbed him rudely by the scruff and tail when he came within reach, and hauled him inside, where he was discovered to be his sister, Nuit, instead.  She has white markings on her chest and underside, but the two of them don't look very different at a distance and through an adrenaline rush.

Arwen and Naomi came up to see me while I was making amends to Nuit, but there was no Ninja.  I checked in with David, checked all the open windows, grabbed a can of wet food, and ran back outside, where I discovered Ninja sniffing around under Lydy's bedroom window.  I lured him within reach with the food, grabbed him rudely, dumped him inside, and checked all the windows again.  No loose screens, no holes, all secure.  I went to see if Lydy, who is out for the day, had opened any windows in her bedroom, and was just in time to stop Ninja from going out the broken accordion of the window air conditioner, which was flapping in the breeze.  It was not, when I came to examine it later, squirrel-chewed.  I suspect feline intervention, possibly of long duration.

I shut him in the media room and his co-conspirator in the staircase, stole duct tape from David, who was in the middle of a complex software process that could not be left; and taped up the opening from both the inside and the outside.  Then I removed various objects that ordinarily hang over Lydy's bedroom door, shut it with a resounding bang, and put a large sign on it forbidding the presence of cats.

If alcohol didn't interact badly with my meds, I would have a very large drink right about now.  We live on a busy street, and while Ninja, who has escaped before, is chipped, Nuit, Miss Innocence as she used to be, is not.  They are young cats and we are exceedingly fond of them.  Little wretches.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
None of these happened within the last few weeks, but I did want to record them.

Just before the last big blizzard, I went out with a snow shovel and the ice chopper to level the driveway and demolish the plow ridge, so that the new snow would be all we had to worry about.  Our driveway is short but very wide, and there isn't much room on either side to pile snow.  The previously shovelled stuff was already above my head.  I had stopped to rest and was leaning on my shovel when a man came trudging along the alley, his arms full of objects from the Salvation Army thrift store on Nicollet.  I recognized a length of flowered cloth, but wasn't sure what anything else was.  I said hello to him, and he stopped.  "You trying to make room to get your car in, ma'am?" he said.  I wasn't sure if David would want to put his car on the driveway or leave it on the street, but that had been one of my reasons for shovelling.  So I answered in the affirmative.

"You shouldn't have to be doing that," he said, and heedlessly dumping his purchases in the snow on the side of the alley, he took the shovel from me.

He started out at a good pace, but the snow was hard and icy and stuck, and the plow ridge well packed in.  He was younger than I am, but not all that young.  He solved the problem of the high banks of snow by shoving the plow ridge into the alley and scattering it.  At some point he had cleared the half of the driveway I was still contemplating and gotten rid of two-thirds of the plow ridge, and was getting winded.  I told him he didn't have to do any more, that the car could drive in from the north and slide itself sideways onto the driveway with no trouble.

He gave me back the shovel and told me to have a blessed day.  I said that I had already  had one, thanks to him.  He said he was off to beautify his house, picked his stuff up from the snow, and went off followed by my fervent thanks.  The 10-minute rest he'd given me allowed me to remove the rest of the plow ridge before I went inside.

[ profile] elisem had a sale a while ago.  I remarked in the comments that, should money fall from the air, I would surely buy a necklace called "Strategy and Tactics Among the Mermaids.  Here are some photos of it: /.  A day later I got an email from Elise, saying that an anonymous benefactor had bought the necklace for me, but preferred to remain anonymous unless recipients were freaked out by the anonymity.  I figured that Elise was vouching for the benefactor, and the plural of "recipients" was also reassuring, so I didn't ask for any more information.  I love the necklace profoundly, and Elise got the money she needed for the reasons she had put up the sale.  I am even working on a short story inspired by the necklace, though there's no guarantee that, like most of my short stories, it won't stall out or turn into a novel.

And finally, a good friend loaned us money to help us over a severe cash-flow problem.

I am very, very grateful to all of these people.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
In the piecemeal, inexpert, largely intuitive country that has been my lifelong experience of music, Pete Seeger is like William Shakespeare.  He's everywhere.  If you come at things from a strange angle, as I did and do, a common thread over the years is thinking, every once in a while, variations on,  "Oh, he wrote that.  And that.  Oh, that's a line from Pete Seeger.  He wrote THAT?  Really, wow."  When I listened to Bruce Springsteen's album of Pete Seeger's songs, I felt quite a lot like the person seeing Hamlet for the first time who exclaimed, "But it's full of cliches!" Only that possibly-fictional person was disappointed, while, to my great good fortune, I was delighted.

His testimony before HUAC, which you can read here -- -- if you haven't already, takes place against a horrible background and has sinister overtones.  In this it is not unlike certain strands of Shakespearean comedy, where the actual practices of torture and the myriad imperfections of Elizabethan and Jacobean justice are lurking.  Reading the increased exasperation of the committee, I was uneasily aware of the horrors in the background, not to mention their offspring sliming around this country and the world to this day; but mostly I was laughing far too hard to attend to them for more than a moment at a time.

I hope the two of them are collaborating on a musical, that's all.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)

Seriously, what Amal said:

I am not eligible for any awards because I had nothing published in 2013, so I can't make a post of that nature.  But for those of you who are eligible because you did have something published, you would make my life much easier if you did make such a post.  I have a very difficult time remembering when a work was published and am not all that wonderful at recalling, either, whether it was a short story, a novelette, or a novella.  Sometimes I misremember who wrote what and become alarmingly entangled in an alternate universe where Mary Smith wrote what was actually Jane Brown's story but Google knows nothing of it, even though my mind is quite, quite sure that I have the facts of the matter correct.  (Someday I will tell you about the world where Meg Hutchinson wrote a song called "Iowa," but not today.)

Please help out all around by listing your accomplishments, if you would like to do so.

When I am eligible I will probably fail to make such a post because my organizational skills are minimal and, honestly, I probably won't remember what year my book was published any more than I can remember what year anybody else's was.  So I cannot throw any asparagus.  But if you are hesitating to make such a post because you fear to annoy me or people like me, you will really do quite the opposite.

Thanks very much to those of you who have already listed the stories of whatever length that you had published last year.


pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted.

Recent Feline Depredations:

1. A few weeks ago I made a tortilla casserole.  It was pretty good, but I thought it would benefit both from some kind of vegetarian meat substitute and from about double the number of corn tortillas, since they are so nice when they have soaked up a lot of enchilada sauce.  I accordingly bought some Gimme Lean mock sausage at the Linden Hills Co-op, and a couple of packages of corn tortillas from Coborns Delivers.  I ended up keeping the corn tortillas on the unheated front staircase; in the weather we were having, it was more than cold enough there.  The sausage I put into the freezer.

On Tuesday evening, I decided to make the casserole.  I accordingly removed the sausage from the freezer and put it into the refrigerator; and I took the brown paper bag holding the corn tortillas from the staircase and left it on an armchair in the cat-sitting room.  This is actually the upstairs dining room in the view of the people who designed our duplex, but we have it full of cat furniture, regular furniture that cats have clawed, and cat toys; and we sit there with cats.

When I was going through the crisper finding the vegetables I needed for the casserole, I realized that the vegetables I'd gotten for the stir-fry were looking a little limp, and decided that it would be better to make the stir-fry that evening and the casserole the next.  I put the sausage back in the freezer, but I forgot about the corn tortillas.  I made the stir-fry, which was very good.  After we had eaten it I remarked that it was odd that cats had not been plaguing us, especially Cassie.  I went to look for her.  She was meatloafed next to the radiator in the library, a favorite place of hers in cold weather.  Before her in pride of place was a somewhat mutilated package of corn tortillas; around her, as Raphael discovered with a more careful examination, was a scattering of gnawed tortilla bits.  I had removed the tattered package to the trash when I first noticed the situation. Raphael decided it would be best to clean up the crumbs, and told me that Cassie was killing them -- picking them up in her mouth and shaking them vigorously to break their little corny necks -- but did not seem inclined to actually eat them.

The second package of corn tortillas was unmolested, and I put it into the refrigerator.

2.  On  Wednesday evening, I actually made the casserole, though obviously I had to do without extra corn tortillas.  While I was assembling it, Saffron came tearing into the kitchen with her neck fully extended, chirruping and sniffing and chittering.  She considered jumping up onto the stove, decided that the stove was too cluttered, and leapt instead onto the wooden cart we keep the microwave on, and thence to the top of the microwave, talking a mile a minute and sniffing madly.  "There is no meat in this food," I told her, which is a remark I frequently make to both cats.  "Please get down off that cart."  She jumped down and ran around the kitchen, sniffing and commenting; finally she shot off into the library on one of her regular tears.

We ate the casserole and I put the leftovers away without further feline interference.  But when I went into my office before bed to check email once more and put the computer to sleep, the wrapper from off the mock sausage was lying on the floor in there, licked extremely clean.  Since Cassie's method for getting things out of the trash involves tipping the can over, I assume this was Saffron's doing.

3.  When I was placing the online order that included the corn tortillas, Coborns had a big banner up on the website saying that they strongly recommended that people be at home to receive their groceries if the groceries were being delivered on Monday, and that groceries should absolutely be removed from the outside within thirty minutes of delivery, at the worst.  I dutifully went down when the doorbell rang, and took the groceries from the driver and brought them into the warmth.

The bananas were extremely green and are now turning black while still being rock-hard, so I wonder if they froze despite their little foam blanket.  I haven't really investigated them yet.  The soy milk was partially frozen.  Everything else seemed all right.  This afternoon Saffron showed a strong interest in some of the canned and packaged goods that we keep on the built-in the dining room, since there is not enough storage space in the kitchen.  She seemed most intrigued by a bag of co-op cereal, so I removed it from under her nose, and she was affronted and went off casually to show that she really didn't care about the cereal at all.  Or so I thought at the time.  However, later this afternoon when I came upstairs from moving laundry along, on the floor of the cat-sitting room I descried a tattered plastic produce bag and two baking potatoes.   The bag, though it had not been actually closed, was well chewed.  The potatoes looked quite damp.  This was not, fortunately, because they had been licked by cats, but because they were starting to get rotten.  They must have partially frozen too.  I could smell the typical rotten-potato smell when I picked them up. Saffron could obviously smell it much earlier and thought it was less awful than I do, though not actually good enough to cause her to eat the potatoes when she got a good sniff of them.

I will try to follow this with something more actually resembling content, but I thought it would be good to break the ice.  Or do I mean freeze the potato?

pameladean: (Gentian)
Having just said in my previous post that I am mostly an all -[ profile] elisem, all the time jewellery wearer, I thought I'd better post this.

Elise is having a sale to celebrate her birthday.  Do go look.  It's cheering just to gaze on her amazing pieces and see the titles that she gives them, each one a tiny story all on its own.


Some links

Aug. 21st, 2013 06:36 pm
pameladean: (Gentian)
Edited to add: [ profile] lsanderson has kindly provided working links in the first comment.

Or, actually, no links, because LJ is persistently borking them. But the user links to journals work all right, and you shouldn't have to scroll down far.

First, via [ profile] ginmar, [ profile] adelheide is having a jewellery sale. I am mostly an all-[ profile] elisem, all the time kind of person when it comes to jewellery, but some of this stuff is really gorgeous. And [ profile] adelheide's car needs new brakes.

Second, [ profile] lydy, my co-wife and housemate of 18 years and counting, has written a series of posts about the life-saving and empowering effects of food stamps, which program and its effects altogether too many politicians are trying to cripple or eradicate. The posts should be read in the order they were written, so find "The Farm Bill" first, and then "Talking to Republicans" and finally "The Case for Institutions."

I'm sorry I can't provide links. I have no idea what LJ is up to. I've done this before. I have a new computer and a weird new operating system (Windows 8), but it shouldn't affect plucking a link from the address bar, should it? Anyway, LJ is correcting the links by adding "preview" in there and then if you click on the improved link you get a Google window saying the website is not found. Yargh.



pameladean: (Default)

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