sometimes there's too many apricots

When that happens, you have to make yourself some apricot jam, or maybe some fruit leather, or maybe chicken stew with apricots in it.

Sometimes you don't have any apricots at all.

When that happens, you better write something about apricots, and also plant a tree.
I've been plowing through books, at least that's what it looks like from my end. I finished The Other Wind by Ursula LeGuin, a tiny bit disappointed because it's about the country of the dead and it's another Earthsea book: not that I mind Earthsea, but I was in the mood for something else. And the country of the dead is only passing interest for me even though I have written (yet another unpublished) book featuring a country of the dead as well.

I also finished both the Margaret Atwoods that I took out of the library (they were in one volume). I thought it was brilliant to package Life Before Man with Cat's-Eye: it's like Cat's -Eye is the more matuire consideration of the problems between women, and an explanation why a woman might find herself growing up trusting men more than women, and also a reconciliation with all the women in her life,. Kind of. Some reconciliations are not possible, so they happen only one-sidedly.

I also just finished Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death?. Man, this was hard to read. At the same time it was wonderful and beautiful to read. I admit I was imagining the Sahel/western Sahara through the whole book and then felt dumb when the Sudan is mentioned at the end because everything made so much more sense knowing it was Sudan and not Sahel. It actually scratched all my itches too -- sense of place, sense of wonder, sense of person, language, story, color, sensation, mystery. Not to mention politics, both simple and complex at once. I like that when she humanizes the villains, she does not excuse them. Also I love that the technology is both advanced and backward, that it's clearly a future setting with a darfk ages but they didn't lose everything, and I love love love that it's Africa itself, not Africa determined by the rest of the world.

I may not finish the Melanie Rawn I am reading. It's so unlike the Glass Thorns books or that immense Spanioid fantasy she co-wrote. It's unfortunately full of all the things I hate in romance books: the horrible cliche hypergendered descriptions of the hero and heroine, the Irish malarkey, the embarrassing stock descriptions of sex that just don't sound like any sex I've ever had (well, okay, so I guess I don't expect it to be much like what I've experienced, but it doesn't sound like sex at all, it sounds like a greeting card). I would not take this as an anti-recommendation of Melanie Rawn in general, though, just this book. The Glass Thorns books are excellent.

So I also had a moment reading The Other Wind. well, a few moments at different times. Where I recognized something she was doing as something I do too, and I was thinking, damnit, when I do this people tell me I'm screwing up and I should do something else. And I wonder if it is because I'm just so bad at it?

The only birthday that matters currently

Today is the anniversary of both my children's births. They are not twins: theyare eight years apart. Today one of them is in the UK, thousands of miles away. He said he worked, and afterwards and his wife celebrated by taking a walk along Butthole Lane until it turned into fields of some kind of brassica. The other lives close, but she worked today too. She said she celebrated by buying a coyote skull.

I'm spending the day with my ailing, possibly-dying dog, and also moving into my proper bedroom at the top of my house, where I have a view of green layered on green, and the last of the Belle of Portugal roses wilting in the apple tree.

The dog might be okay, but if she isn't, well, she had many years more than we thought she might, and she's been my true companion, and I don't want to go too far in this direction yet, until I know whether she's recovering from this.


reading on Saturday

Wednesday isn't sacred, right?

So I finally got back into the groove of going to the library on a regular basis, which is nice. I can catch up on old books.

I brought home a bunch of Margaret Atwood this time. I remember now why I got out of the habit of reading her, even though I admire her books and enjoy them a lot of the time. There is, however, a ration of grimness that I can't sustain. The one I just finished is Life Before Man, than which I can't recall having read much more glum except perhaps some fin de siecle century Norwegian stuff. The only glimmer of joy is Lesje's preoccupation with dinosaurs, and even that gets ground down to a pathetic misery by the end of the book. It's a feckless fellow and the three women who feel something sort of like love for him, though in none of those cases does it seem very much like affection. It's one of her realist novels. The inner lives of three of these people are on display, and those reach the sensory intensity of fantasy. It's really masterful: unlike many alternating-pov books, each shift solidly contributes to advancing the story, and the separate points of view are distinct and consequential. It's compelling even though I didn't really like anybody very much, and while at no time was I having any fun, I was really involved with the world, the story, the language. I guess I have to say that she made me care about people I kind of wanted to tell off and I am really glad I don't know.

Now I'm reading Cat's Eye and I think I read it before, though I never remember any of it till I come to it, so it's like reading a new book. I like it a lot better, though I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up hating everybody in it too.

I think I have to go read some Joyce Carol Oates now too, even though I decided a long time ago I didn't like her books and wasn't ever going to read one again. The reason I have to is that Atwood's writing in these two books reminds me a bit of Oates, especially in the ways that don't please me, and I have to figure out why I decided I like Atwood and I don't like Oates.

I am also reading a trilogy my brother-in-law leant me, something I'd never pick out for myself. It's the Powder Mage trilogy, a fat gory fantasy epic with everything I don't like to read. The author is Brian McClellan. The first book is Promise of Blood, an unpromising title for me, but I am paying attention. It's well-written enough that I'm not skimming all the incessant fight scenes. I now it's a bad habit, because sometimes information is in those scenes, but I usually find them boring and unproductive in terms of advancing the story. The one author I know that embeds enough information in fight scenes that they are worth reading every word is Jo Walton in the King's Peace books. What won me over to this trilogy besides my brother-in-law's recommendation (which has to be taken judiciously because we have almost opposite tastes in reading) is the cut line:"The age of kings is dead...and I have killed it." I am not sure whether the speaker of that line is going to turn out to be a villainous point of view after all--I would feel betrayed if he did, but there's indications that this story could go either way. It also has the problem of the characters all being kind of assholes, but they're sort of sympathetic assholes for now.

I have also been lent a Kameron Hurley and I have some other stuff in my library bag. Yes, I am reading lots of real books again, not just cookbooks and online fiction.

Also, I started a completely new story, a school story about Yanek's sister, who is a botanist with second sight which works best with respect to trees. Also she is a Zelnik, and I believe this story is how she finds out what that means and also begins to find a way to abandon her position in the aristocracy without losing her ties of affection to her family. I do not believe this story goes as far as her figuring out how to have a family of her own: that is in the future.

my google feedback for today

Google once again assumes it can read my  goddamned mind and hijacks my search as if I am a moron who doesn't know what she wants.
Seriously, DON'T DO THIS! It's okay to query "did you mean..." or to include the thing you think I want but STOP FUCKING HIJACKING MY SEARCHES. You have driven an old lady to obscenity!
Background #1: One of my favorite songs is "Dedo mili, zlatni" (Dear precious grandpa--or, in literal Macedonian word order, Grandpa dear, golden) Here's a version of it. The words are better than the visuals: it's just a bunch of things Grandpa and Grandma do around the place, like fishing and cooking peppers, and the chorus asserts that Grandpa is Grandma's first boyfriend and her sweetypie. I think the tune is catchy and infectious. Also sometimes it makes me mad because where's my old man? Of course he wasn't my first boyfriend, but I was still pretty damned young when I threw my lot in with him. Not the point.

EDIT: Here is a much cuter version!

Background #2: on the way to a family thing yesterday, the fellows were making a long string of jokes about robots.

The thing that I take away from this is the desire to have a song "Dedo mili, robotni" but I am afraid it wouldn't  mean "Dear grandpa who is like a robot" but "Dear slavish grandpa."

Oh well. But cyborg grandpa has a bit of appeal. Maybe if we'd been a generation later, I'd have got that deal for him.

This was not supposed to be maudlin, damn it.

today's takedown notice

to urlibrary

(someone had posted this link in a comics forum, I can't tell why it came to be requested there)

My name is Lucy Kemnitzer, and I am the author and rights holder of the story "The Raw and the Cooked" which apparently appears without my permission in your archive at the following link:
Since I did not register an account and attempt to download it, I'm not sure that the link is not the more famous and signifcant book by Claude Levi-Struss. I cannot speak for Mr. Levi-Strauss, who is dead, but if the material is mine as the person who posted the link said, I would like you to remove it. It's already free at fictionpress uner the name "plumblossom."

On another front, my taxes are filed.

A little cream goes a long way

Another one of those dishes I improvise from time to time. Apparently lemon and cream are my default seasonings right now. This time it was red cabbage, sliced and cooked till barely tender, with a lemon squeezed over it, salt, pepper, and a splash of cream. It looks like a lot more than that because the cabbage is wettish from cooking and that liquid joined with the cream for a thin thin sauce... the lemon is prominent, tastewise, but why doesn't the cream curdle in these affairs?

I could have made this more complicated with herbs and/or candied orange people and/or dried plum wafer and/or nuts, but I didn't, and it is still food, very nice food.

You know who you are department: since you're thinking seriously about doing a food bloc, if you need a guest contributor who will tell your readers eccentric things to do with vegetables and fruits, I'm yours. (I almost said "I'm your Hobbit," because that is what friends and family call me when they see me making little concoctions with, say, beets and rosemary, or wild plums and rhubarb, or whatever demands attention at the moment). I'm not that good at pies and roasts, and yesterday my pizza stuck to the brown paper I put down to keep it from sticking to the pan because apparently my intelligence is limited in scope, but if you need a kohlrabi enthusiast...

Haven't done a reading Wednesday for awhile

I took 3 books out of the library. Changing Planes by Ursula LeGuin: The Sugar Festival by Paul Park: and Probability Moon by Nancy Kress.The second was gruesome (on purpose) and unreadable by me. The third I did not finish because the people annoyed me so much. The first was more or less a meringue: frothy and sweet.

That's all you get. Still using the disability keyboard and it's excruciating. So is voice recognition. And my spare keyboard died the death--it might be 20 years old.

quiet for a while

drowned my keyboard. computer fellow ordering one but in the meantime using onscreen accessibility keyboard which is slow and annoying. 

Is McSweeney's terrible or what?

I forget who linked to what but I ended up browsing through McSweeney's. At first I was thinking "huh, intellectual light humor, I could get into that, maybe even write it." And there were several pieces that seemed pretty cool. But as I went on browsing I got a wee bit more alienated with every piece. It was like reading The Toast (yes I am aware that McSweeney's has been around longer): a lot of it depends on a private school worldview. Or something. I could be wrong, since whatever it is I don't share it.

And then came this. What is this supposed to mean, except "ha-ha, this woman is not as deep as this man?" I'm inclined not to give them any slack for it. Somebody thought it would be funny to compare the lives of Karl Marx and a model chosen for--what? her early entry into the field? The fact that her life could be framed to seem perfectly banal? What is it for, if not to ridicule the model (or possibly Marx as well, I don't know). And what do you get out of feeling superior to this person?

I get the feeling that feeling superior is both the proximal and ulterior motive here, that there's nothing else there. There's certainly nothing funny there.


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Ars longa: vita brevis

I'm mostly known for having said "In this great and creatorless universe, where so much beautiful has come to be out of the chance interactions of the basic properties of matter, it seems so important that we love one another."

It was supposed to be an illustration of why it was that atheists didn't have easy catchphrases to stick into everything like religious people. However, now it's a catchphrase. I should be proud.

Video here


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