Kelly and I went to our first SF community event Wednesday night, a ChiSeries reading featuring Guy Gavriel Kay, E.L. Chen, Jim Munroe and Leon Rooke. The monthly readings are held at The Augusta House, a pub conveniently near our place, and we met a few people I’ve known for years in a cyberspace way (I tend to forget that some of these friends of mine are people I’ve never actually looked in the face.)
One of the night’s unexpected delights was hearing the music of Kari Maaren. She is an amazing filk lyricist (Badger and Fearless, I suspect you will heart her bigtime, if you don’t already). Her The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy song, “43,” made me howl with laughter. And there’s this:
We slipped out at about nine-thirty, so very late by our ridiculous up-at-dawn standards, and walked home. It felt as though it might have been the first time–in almost a month!–that we’ve been out after dark. The pubs were just getting lively, filling up with crowds of people keen to watch hockey and socialize.
It was a warm and humid night, full of sights and cheer, an altogether magical walk.
I have probably mentioned this before, but when I was a tween, the Scholastic Book Order club was pretty much the highlight of my school existence. Every month they’d send out a two page book catalog, printed on newsprint, and I would pore over it, trying to figure out which two or three books I would order.
The next phase involved the wheedling of cash from my mother. I can remember very specifically the feeling of walking to school with the actual form clutched in my hand. It about the size of a postcard and printed on newsprint, and I would wrap it around the quarters and dimes with which I was going to pay for the treasure.
Until the recent move-related cull, I still had a few of those books: Ann Rivkin’s Mystery of Disaster Island, and The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key, to name two.
One of the Scholastic books I didn’t retain into adulthood was a biography of Nellie Bly, and it was absolutely one of my favorites. Nellie was an intrepid girl reporter who worked for Joseph Pulitzer, and the book told about how she went undercover at an insane asylum for women–writing an expose on its cruelties–before capping off her career with a ’round the world race to prove that Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days trip was a possible thing.
Another magazine sent a competing reporter, so halfway around the journey she found out she was in a race with Elizabeth Bisland.
So. Not long ago my good friend Keph posted about Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World on Facebook and I immediately grabbed it up. It is as gratifying and intriguing as I expected. Nellie and Elizabeth were remarkably different women whose lives had intriguing similarities: they bumped up against the same feminist issues in very different ways.
On a barely-relevant note – I am now living within blocks of the Scholastic building. This is, for me, rather like living on the front lawn of the Taj Mahal or the Vatican.
My short story “The Sweet Spot,” which appeared in Lightspeed Magazine last year, Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing
Though I have only just started to recover from the blast out to Edmonton, I am headed with Kelly to Montreal this weekend. The last trip wasn’t a pleasure cruise, obviously, but this is–we’re going to see friends. I haven’t been to Montreal since, I think, the 2001 World Fantasy Con. I am looking forward to being there again, with savvy local guides no less!
And, in the spirit of three things make a post – a lot of pictures of Grandma Joan are coming my way and then getting uploaded to the Pham album on my Flickr account. Here’s one by Paul McNie that I think is especially nice.
My latest Buffy rewatch ends Season Five with “The Gift.” I call it “Beware of God.”
If you’d prefer a pre-taste of my upcoming book CHILD OF A HIDDEN SEA, which is set in the same world as “Among the Silvering Herd” or my next related Tor.com story “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti,” here’s a post on mermaids I did for
My World… in Words and Pages.
Toronto continues to be a completely fun place to explore: here’s a store called Da Vintage Code. I love a good pun.
I am just home from Grandma Joan’s funeral and am quite behind on everything, especially e-mail. I’ll be back on track by Monday at the latest; if you wrote me, I’ll get to you, and in the meantime I apologize for the delay.
In the meantime, thank you all very much for the notes, tweets and other kind thoughts. It was very lovely of you, and meant a lot to me.
I am sitting in a cafe called La Merceria, which is half a kilometer from my place. They have excellent coffee and good strong Wifi, and nice places to sit and work. The tables are too high, though–suboptimal for typing. The hunt for a perfect remote workspace, therefore, goes on.
Everything stops for two days, though, because tomorrow at the crack of dawn I leave for Edmonton, for my grandmother’s funeral. The quest for things like routine and workable coffee houses and reasonably priced produce will have to resume on the weekend. In the meantime, grieving is hard work and I’m slogging through that instead of working on my novels.
Speaking of heavy, this week’s Buffy Rewatch covers “Weight of the World.”
Things that are nailed down and delightful: the yoga studio, Downward Dog, is marvelous. We did meditative/restorative yoga on Sunday–what Muppet calls ‘blankie yoga’ and it was a lovely experience. The brekkie place, Cora’s, not only gives you tons of fruit with breakfast but lets you order it without melons. We have much of our stuff unpacked, including the television and comfortable seating, and are finally up to date on Game of Thrones, even as the Internets explode with ewww and squee over it.
Our couch arrived when it was supposed to and the Frogboxes were taken away when they were supposed to go, and the only things standing between me and getting all the extra crap out of my office are a storage bed that’s due to arrive on June 8th or so and a shelf to be acquired later.
Toronto is full of photo ops. I have a Flickr Set with about fifty pictures in it already.
I think I told you all that because our building is under construction, we’re getting some of our mail whenever I take it into my head to make the 1 hour commute out to the Letter Carrier’s Depot that time forgot on 400 Commissioner’s Street.
(I say some because last week they showed me a letter for K that they would not give me without a release form, and today it was not among the things I was given).
Today I had a dual mission: there’s a Home Depot up there, and among other things we have been living in near total darkness because the assumption was we’d move into the joint with lamps in hand, whereas we thought there’d be light fixtures in places other than the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom closet. Silly us.
The postal outlet is on the edge of the Leslie Spit, where I plan to do much birding, and nature leaks out. So I got this for my troubles.
Anyway, I took the streetcar out there, waited among a line of angry condo dwellers to give my name and beg for a portion of my mail. Then I walked to Home Depot, bought stuff, and cabbed home with a shocking amount of darkness fighting technology. Which makes it sound like I’m building a superhero base.
Then I did a mighty amount of unpacking. And time-lapsed it. This was meant to impress the hell out of you all, but I set the frame rate too far apart, so you can barely tell that anything has changed. I tried to edit it to a slower pace using iMovie, and I may have succeeded. I definitely added twangy music, but that was unintentional.
The Spartan Life: Now that we’ve been doing without all our worldly possessions since the 14th, I have begun to miss a few things:
–Roger the milk frother. Though I can nuke milk to the desired warmth for my tea-drinking, I prefer the touch of Roger. Also my veggie steamer and the strainer.
–Small tables and plant stands to put things on. Having everything sitting on the floor does get old.
–Oddly, more of all the things we actually have: I look forward to again having more than 2-3 forks, plates, dresses, and pairs of undies.
Yoga with Live Music: Yesterday Kelly and I headed off to Downward Dog to try their 1/2 class. We had the idea that this class was pronounced “One Half” and was the halfway point between the (wonderful, awesome!) Beginner/prep classes we’ve been taking and Level One. Rumor has it that L1 is super-hard!
It turns out that 1/2 means “One Two”–it’s the halfway point between Level One and Two! From this I reached three epiphanies in rapid succession: OMG, OMG, I’m gonna die, followed by Holy Shit I survived that, man I am a Yoga Stud and, finally–after I looked up the class definitions and realized we were in something that might have been termed 1.5, Odds are good I could probably do actual Level One once a week.
Grief Makes You Dumb: A lot of my mental bandwidth is taken up with Grandma-related thoughts. Much of what’s left is getting antsy over the fact that I haven’t written any fiction since the 15th. The latter situation will get addressed tomorrow. So if you ask me for something in the near and get a less than useful response, like “Noodles!” just dumb down the question and try again.
F. Scott Fitzgerald makes you dumb too: The Great Gatsby was a very pretty disappointment. Everyone seemed emotionally flat except Tom Buchanan, and there’s no way to get behind him. Also, Toby Maguire may win the Me Award for simperiest narrator ever.
In the midst of chaos: Life goes on, except when it doesn’t. Auntie Emm wrote last night to say that my grandmother has had it with petering out slowly and painfully, and has stopped taking food and medicine. I think this is an amazing and right decision on Joan’s part–not that it’s for me to say. But, for myself and for K, ouch.
Long and short of it: I feel much grief already, of course, and expect to be winging it to Saint Albert in a state of woe in the not too distant.
Edited to add the thing I told Ana: One of the dumb move things that is making it harder is that our stuff was, originally, supposed to have arrived last week. If Great Canadian Van Lines had delivered as promised, I would at least have a black dress and the freedom to jet off to Alberta any time I wished. As it is, the stuff hasn’t arrived and Kelly is having a ferociously hellish time getting the mover and the building move-in coordinator on the same page.
She must, at this point, have made twenty phone calls or more trying to get the driver to commit to a time when the elevator’s free. We need to know when the stuff will come so we can know when I might hypothetically go.
Casualties of move: Rumble is very pleased to announce he has finally managed to bust one of our possessions. And as a bonus, it’s a mouse! He knocked it off the desk this morning and now it does not right click.
Speaking of cats, here’s one of the neighbors:
A bit of random in this post: The new yoga studio looks like it’s going to work out. We’ve only gone twice, and we miss the little bits of meditate-y spiritual guidance we used to get at Open Door (we miss many things about Open Door) but the two classes at Downward Dog were the right mix of do-able and challenging. It’s not hot yoga, but the small studio there has some ventilation challenges. This is nice for me, as I like a warm room. It’s maybe less nice for K.
Speaking of nice, here are some baby robins I shot yesterday. It was a crummy day, in a way, with bad sandwiches and lots of jerking around from hither to yon, but I wandered into a community garden and scored bigtime.
Toronto has wind! I am realizing that what passed in B.C. for wind was, you know, not.
Finally, we now have something to sleep on. The Sleep Country guys delivered our bed (the second one, the one we didn’t have to demand a refund on) yesterday, after Kelly paid them a $100 bribe to not drive off when they saw they’d have to wait their turn for the building loading dock.
In addition to lying OMG on a real mattress last night, we slept with artificial rain noise. Our bedroom is right near the stairwell, and what with both elevators being down it means every single person in the building has to tramp past us to get to their home. The building is largely unoccupied, but we needed some white noise. Snuffy recommended a program called Sleepmaker and we set it to play a heavy rainstorm with frequent swells of thunder all the night through.
My Novel II class is going well–I have about nine students now, and they’ve all got pretty intriguing books on the go. They’re disciplined, hardworking, and ask a lot of questions–a dream come true while I bounce through this transition.