As you were probably all able to deduce from the photos, Kelly and I spent the past couple of weeks visiting family all over Alberta before swinging west through the Crowsnest Pass so we could explore Nelson. We wrapped up our time off by spending two glorious nights at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and a few low-key days at home.
I’ve restricted my work activities over this stretch of time to teaching and answering a few of the most urgent e-mails, so the pile on my desk is rather mighty this morning. But I will start mowing through it today. If you have been waiting on me for anything, it should be headed your way quite soon.
An old friend of my family’s died the night before last. He and my mother were extremely close–she’s pretty shattered–and my father was rocked, I think, when I wrote him in China to tell him what had happened. Rick was in one of Bear’s earliest crop of drama students. My first memories of him are as a giant-sized guy who built sets in the theater where I spent a lot of my early childhood. He tolerated having a four-year-old underfoot pretty well; he came from a big family, with lots of sibs.
Because he and his partner were tight with Barb, I’ve seen a bit of him over the years since. I knew he’d had leukemia quite a few years ago, and got a bone marrow transplant that sent it into remission. Miraculous, that, but the cancer came back recently and he didn’t survive the second round of treatment.
So I’m a little sad, and a little thoughtful, and this is also why I haven’t managed to blog about the Powell’s reading or all the fabulous things I did in Portland with M.K. Hobson and Rebecca Stefoff and others. Where, I’ll have you know, I took 350 pictures. Let’s see if I can post one from my current location:
And there may be a little more radio silence. I have an enormous paperwork monster to slay this afternoon, and a bunch of little things to wrap up today and tomorrow. Once that’s done, K and I are off on a big sweep through Alberta to see our loved ones and collect even more pictures.
My dreamed-of WiFi workathon with view got a bit of a trim this morning: I was going to hop aboard an Amtrack train at the crack of dawn and write about seven billion things by the time I got to Portland. However, the train gods decreed that something was wrong with the track. Amtrak told us mudslides in Everett. CBC says protesters in White Rock. Anyway, they herded us onto buses and cleverly filtered us as we went: the peeps going on from Seattle got an express bus, while the folks going to a zillion points between Vancouver and King Station got a slow boat.
The best part of this development was that I got to Seattle an hour earlier than expected, with plenty of time to go to Zeitgeist Coffee. Kelly and I had been here in 2009 when we went on the Tucker Family Cruise-o-rama and we love love loved it. They have boiled eggs and fruit along with caffeine and bready things and Intrawebs.
The bus was completely full and though the guy next to me was nice enough, and also mostly comatose, he was taking up his entire seat, which meant I didn’t have the extra elbow room I’d have needed to break out the keyboard even if there’d been somewhere to put it. So I spent the first half of trip making myself just a leetle bit carsick by reading a book. It was a good book, and enjoyable enough to justify the nausea.
Oh! And I got a very jolly border guard.
After the coffee I got on the train, had no seatmate, and yay, the WiFi was working. Prose ensued. I got to pause thoughtfully and admire the view several times, and took many questionable pictures of same. I fancy this one is quite arty. I’m probably wrong.
The train got in and I walked to my hotel, which is all of three blocks from Powell’s downtown. After nine continuous hours of sitting, I desperately needed a real walk, so I hoofed off in the direction of the bookstore. What I didn’t know was that the Powell’s is right next to a Doc Marten’s outlet.
Some of you know I’d generally rather have arrows shoved through my cheeks than go into a shoe store, but I’ve been thinking about summer footwear lately. Thinking lots. There’s stuff about my heels, and stuff about my toes, and the general Shoe Law of Me states that all shoes must be good for at least a five kilometer walk, at the end of which they must look presentable enough to pass for girly grownup work shoes. Being shoe picky is fine if you like shopping for the things, but in my case it’s rather ridiculous.
But, having now gotten myself a pair of Docs that’ll do a 10K day and a pair of Fluvogs that’ll go that far, too, I’ve decided I prefer the Docs. So in I went, and what did I find but these?
Pretty, huh? They have the not-open back that my heel needs, and the holes in front that mean stretch–I wanted this so my toes can spread out, ducklike, in the front. And they’re pink! Pink pink Barbie camper pink!
I had other adventures, and much fun just walking around downtown Portland, a city I’m so very fond of visiting, and a pretty decent supper, but I think I’ll shelve those for now. Tomorrow I will have more adventures, with wonderful lovely people, and there will be even more pictures. Some will almost certainly be of Xerxes. How lucky am I?
And, yes, shafuffa on the side.
Tomorrow I’m co-hosting Geekly Pleasures with Jules Sherred, whose review of Blue Magic contains one of those paragraphs that really does make the whole writing lifestyle seem like an endless round of hearts and ponies:
I have never been more thankful for a character than I am for the character of Ev Lethewood. Without going into extreme detail, Alyx did a superb job of illustrating what it like to be a trans man. It is always a wonderful thing when the LGBTQ community is represented in literature in a matter-of-fact fashion, instead of salaciously.
I wanted exactly this out of Ev’s storyline. To reach someone, in that way, on that level. Part of me was terrified I’d failed. Seeing this was a joy and a relief.
Things of me: I’m in a bubble of unprecedented super-busy, all tied into the release of Blue Magic. My inbox is full of interesting and exciting things, including travel stuff: I will be in Portland, reading at Powell’s, on the evening of May 7th, and I will have other events to announce soon. There was FanExpo and my own launch and I’ve joined Pinterest and started a newsletter (join button’s on my site) and you’ve all seen the guest blog links. Plus fiction-writing, teaching, tax season stuff, and all the usual… it’s been a whirlwind.
I’m very happy to say I’ve gotten over a thousand words in on the current Gale and Parrish story this week, despite having a meeting at 6:30 OMG ayem Tuesday and being quite bloody-minded about going outside for a walk every single damned day.
Spring in Vancouver is not to be missed. It’s cool and rainy out as I write this, and the double-flowering plums are spectacular right now. They are brighter and more vivid in the gray; bright sunshine is lovely, but it washes them out a bit. In another week or so they’ll start to edge past their prime, and the slightest gust of wind will fill the air with pink confetti. The tulips are in bloom everywhere. The days are longer and noticeably warmer, the trees are leafing up, and the birds are bubbling over with song in the mornings. Soon there will be ducklings and baby Canada geese to coo over. And, if I’m lucky, baby herons. Here’s about two percent of the heronry in progress:
Before I tell you all about Christmas in Modica, I want to let you know I’ve got another Buffy Rewatch up on Tor.com, this one about the Early Scoobies.
Kelly and I spent the morning of December 25th scampering up and down the town of Modica, which is built in a serious ravine. Our opulent and gorgeous bed and breakfast was on a long street at the bottom of the incline, just downhill from the biggest of the churches, Saint George.
We climbed up to the church and I shot pictures of a few songbirds; there’s a sort of garden around the Duomo, and a little lemon grove. Then we went higher, looking for the clock tower but never quite finding it.
We had a reservation at a restaurant for a big holiday brunch and turned up for that after our hike, along with a number of big Italian families. The food started with a big plate of appetizers and then piled on course after course: three pastas, two meats, two desserts, sweet wine.
The plan had been to feast like queens for lunch, roll home and then just picnic for supper. We were prepared, because we’d spent much of the 24th acquiring fruit, bread, meat (a lot of meat, because the vendor was extra-cute and charming), more fruit, cheese, cookies and wine. We were trying out as much real Sicilian wine as we could, naturally, so Kelly could learn about it. But horrors! As we were headed back to the room, laden with grocery goodness, we realized we hadn’t managed to get our hands on a corkscrew.
If we hadn’t been carry-on only girls, we might have brought one from Canada, but it seemed a good prospect to get confiscated at the airport.
There was a random scattering of open stores, even though we’d picked a bad time, night before Christmas and all. Though, actually, we always found it rather hard to figure out what types of shops and services would be open in Italy at various times of day. We started going into one place after another, asking for a corkscrew. There was a gadget place that seemed especially promising, but the owner only sold batteries, shaving implements, lottery tickets, first and second-hand smoke… and not so much housewares. Finally we went into a wine bar and the owner told us we could hit up the store down the street (also owned by her) for one.
And they did have one for sale, but it was part of a set of expensive and useless wine accessories. We might have sucked it up, though. Because wine! At Christmas! In Modica! But the folks on duty there decided to lend us theirs. Bring it back on Boxing Day, they said, and so that’s exactly what we did.
(We found the Sicilians supernice in this way everywhere we went, whether or not we could communicate with them.)
It was a good picnic, and that afternoon was practically the only window of time that we spent loafing, rather than walking out to see some marvelous sight. Or walking half a block to make sure nobody had towed, ticketed, rammed or made off with our rental car. After the massive Christmas lunch, we couldn’t possibly have moved! We didn’t break into the stash o’ food for about six hours.
Here’s Saint George’s: