- I'll be speaking and reading at the UW Green Bay Pride Center Friday at noon
- I'll be doing an author panel on diverse books at 10AM on Saturday, then tabling at the Book Fair, them doing a presentation on small press publishing on Saturday afternoon.
- Full schedule here
We get a lot of spam mail, it's true. But, I have DOZENS of pen pals across the globe and so I'm used to seeing at least _one_ piece of personalized mail in the box, a utility bill at the very least.
When I complained to Shawn about it this morning, she said, "Oh, yeah, wasn't there an article about this recently?" Apparently, there was! The Pioneer Press ran an article about mail delivery issues in St. Paul's east side. Shawn, who has subscribed to all of the neighborhood groups, said that she'd seen people complaining about slow mail delivery in other neighborhoods as well.
I love getting mail.
I don't know what I'm going to do if we stop reliably getting mail.
I mean, I don't care if we get our bills--though I'm sure, given that we do NOT pay electronically, our services will care quite a bit more than I do, but what if I'm not getting the latest news from Austraila or Canada!??? !!! It's unbearable to think about!
I understand that "snail mail" has become a thing of the past for a lot of people, but it's my hobby. I enjoy getting paper letters and sending them. I guess I'm not worried about my mail going OUT. Shawn has long taken my letters to work, since she's downtown and the Minnesota Historical Society has a huge volume of mail that goes in and out. I still, however, occasionally leave letters out for my postal carrier to pick up, and now I'm wondering if that's wise?
I finally got around to watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, after hearing lots of mostly-positive comments and reviews. Naturally, I must now share ALL OF MY OWN COMMENTS AND REVIEWS. Such is the nature of the internet…
I mostly enjoyed it, though the ending felt empty and unsatisfying.
Details behind the spoiler cut…
And, then I promptly forgot I was supposed to be at White Bear Lake library until I got a call from my boss about twenty minutes after I was supposed to have started, who said, "So... are you planning on going to White Bear?" There was some work inappropriate swearing, fumbling, and rushing out the door. I made it in an hour late. White Bear was surprisingly gracious, even though I kind of looked a bit like I'd rolled out of bed.
The other funny part of this story was that I was doing the dishes before my boss called, and I was watching a very SPECIAL episode of "Morose Mononokean." It was a story about saying goodbye to a friend and I was sobbing like a fool. So, when I answered the call from my boss I was clearly coming off a crying jag, which may be why I got a question instead of a stern talking to?
I'm going to go with yes.
Surprise!Work, of course, derailed all the things I was going to get done yesterday, but I mean, it was a rainy, dreary day anyway, so I might as well have spent it making a few dollars.
I have double-checked the calendar. I do NOT work today. So, hopefully, between that and the sunshine, I will get some stuff done today.
I am one of the people in local Fandom (capital-F meaning 'those people who attend cons' as opposed to one's community based on favorite media/etc.,) who is old enough to remember the Great Fan Schism that broke Minicon into its various parts. Back in the day, the difference between the factions was roughly translated as CONvergence = media fans and their followers; MiniCON = literary snobs. I mean, I suspect that last bit was unfair even at the time, but in the hazy murkiness of memory, this is how I remember the fight being portrayed. So, like so many, many, MANY (as it turned out) others, I abandoned Minicon for the younger media crowd, to whom I felt a closer kinship to, despite being an aspiring writer.
The first time I really went back to Mnicon was last year, when I was one of the guests of honor. This year it was, naomikritzer So, I decided to try the con out as an attendee.
I... had a amazing time.
Do I sound surprised? I suppose I am, in a way. Perhaps one of the reasons I am *surprised* I had such a good time is that I had an extremely light programming schedule. I was only signed up for four panels. It goes against conventional Lyda wisdom that a light load would equal a good time. Normally, a light programming schedule at a con is a recipe for disaster, in that, as an extreme extrovert (and complete diva), I LOSE energy when not directly engaged/in the spotlight. But, I found a LOT of good hallway discussions at Minicon this year, and that seems to have been the cure/the thing that put the con over the top, in terms of my enjoyment of it.
So, a lot of what I have to report can be summed up by: "I hung out with a lot of really cool people!"
The panels I did were all very good, too. I started off with one that initially felt like a huge disaster because no one on the panel seemed particularly interested? well-versed? in the topic, which was also weirdly specific? It was called "Fae Rites of Passage" and the description made it sound like it was supposed to be very specific to Irish fairy and maybe actual rites, or maybe some specific pieces of literature that didn't end up being named in the description, so none of us knew what they were? So, it started out very "???" but since Jane Yolen was one of the panelists, we basically just ended up talking about women's roles in fairy tales and myth, and THAT was a fascinating topic of discussion. By the end, Jane was saying, "I could talk about this all night!" In fact, Jane kept coming up to me for the rest of the con saying, "We need to do that again. It was fun!" Which, I mean, is cool on a lot of levels, right?
The next panel was my interview of Naomi, which... I mean, the thing about Naomi and I is that we once talked the entire drive down to Chicago and back without hardly taking a breath and that is my favorite thing, so, even though I did prepare a number of questions to ask, I was NOT worried that there would be a ton of awkward silences (like the time I interviewed Sheri S. Tepper for Science Fiction Chronicle. Which was early in my interviewing career and I was NOT PREPARED for someone who would answer terse yes/no replies to open ended questions.) Anyway, a couple of people came up to me to tell me specifically they enjoyed the interview, so that was also a success.
Then, I was on a panel about Artificial Intelligences., which I'm not as convinced that I had a huge amount to contribute to other than enthusiasm and a few Alexa jokes. With that one, I felt that the far end of the table where Eleanor and a guy who was an actual scholar in this area, hardly got more than a few words in edgewise, but it was still a LOT of fun. I was reminded about the Saudi Arabia case by an audience member, where Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to "Sophia," an AI. (Link is to an article about what she's been doing since. The article about her also links to another case of an AI in Japan who has been granted 'residency. Interesting stuff!!)
My last panel on Sunday was "Fan Fic is Real Writing," which was very life-affirming on a lot of levels. Much squee was had.
So, Minicon was exactly the kind of con I wanted to have. Lots and lots and LOTS of good conversation with interesting people and very good panels. I'm only sad that I missed all the opportunities to hang out with jiawen . Boo. but, I suppose if the con were PERFECT there'd be no reason to keep going back, which, at the moment, I totally intend to do!
How was your Easter/Passover/Other weekend? Do anything fun?
Review copy provided by the publisher. I also have the privilege to know the author a bit socially.
We've now had several decades--all of my lifetime, in fact--with fairy tale variations, reconceptions, recreations as a major subgenre. So the question about a collection like this can sometimes be: is there anything new to say here? Is it possible to fracture a fairy tale in a way that is not in itself a predictable part of canon at this point?
Happily the answer here is not just yes, but "yes and I will even show you a little of how it's done behind the scenes." I was pleasantly surprised to reach the end of the collection and find not only notes on each story but a poem to go with each--sometimes very directly, sometimes with glancing notes on the same theme. Many of these stories are from previous decades, and Yolen takes time in the notes to talk about how she thought of them then--particularly interesting when they span a cultural shift of awareness around who gets to retell tales from whom.
I'd come upon some of these stories before in other collections of Jane's, but I'm never sorry to see "Granny Rumple" reprinted--it changed my world when I first read it, and I think it can do the same for writers and readers who encounter it for the first time now. Jane's warmth and humor permeate these tales, and breaking familiar stories like Snow White and Cinderella in more than one way in one collection gives us even more perspective on what these tales can still do.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
This is the last in a trilogy, and it is all about consequences. Regular readers know what a sucker I am for consequences.
Years have passed since the events of Amberlough and Armistice. The world is not perfect--there are still war zones--but people have started to get through the very basics of rationing and rebuilding and into questions of who should be honored and who demonized in their recent turbulent history. For teenagers like Lillian and Jinadh's son Stephen, the war and occupation are increasingly dim and distant memories, an obsession of adults. For the adults, it's still all too close and all too real--especially when parts of the past don't stay hidden in the jungle where they previously were.
Frankly, most of these characters are exhausted. Their old coping mechanisms are imperfectly adjusted to their new circumstances, which keep shifting anyway. None of them seem to have had even five minutes to put their feet up, breathe, and look at some nice trees or a sunset or something. Their world is relentless. That makes Amnesty a completely appropriate book for right now--and also sometimes a difficult one. There's solace here, but it's circumscribed, constrained; there are ways forward, but none of them without cost. There is hope, but not for the things the characters used to hope for. And there are people trying to do better. Always, always, amidst rubble and chaos and machination, there are people trying to do better.
Some of these things may be useful to you and yours if you're looking to tread a little lighter on our poor planet. I also do it for me since it's a way to remind myself of what we've done so far and what I'd like us to tackle next.
It is worth noting that we've spent years on this, making a few changes every year. My goal has been to add a few new things every year, which we are on track for. I will also note that most things on my list have had a direct cost savings in the longer term, particularly the ones with start up costs. But there are also things we can't do because of finances or the state of our yard and so forth, such as growing our own veggies (our trees shade much of the yard) and there are things that stay in the planning stages for years at a time while I figure out budgeting and so forth. We also own our own home in a very urban environment in a city which supports a lot of green programs and I've done quite a bit of research and planning on all of this to approach it holistically. I recommend Green America as a good resource for tackling environmental impacts from one social justice perspective.
What we've done so far:
Switched to reusables: lunch bags, dish towels, handkerchiefs, cups, straws, traveling utensils, grocery bags, yard waste containers, etc.
Switched to recycled/refurbished: all paper products, aluminum foil, electronics where feasible (refurbished iPads, router, etc.), some furniture, some clothes, plastic containers, food packages, garbage bags, etc.
Other things we reuse: wash and reuse plastic bags, recycle magazines and single use containers for art projects, buy bulk and reuse single use containers for storage.
Basic house greening: swapping out light bulbs to LEDs, additional insulation, improved windows, green cleaners, green care products, biodegradable cat litter, energy efficient appliances, solar fan in the attic to keep the house cooler in summer, water barrel, yard waste compost, city compost, city recycling, new plumbing with water efficient shower head, toilet and faucets, yard is completely organic and planted with pollinator-friendly plants, electric mower, we use grit to deice and our house is powered by 100% wind power through our utility.
Additional stuff: Committed to buying the bulk of our groceries at the local coops and farmer's markets.
- In addition, we look for reuse and donation opportunities for everything we want to get rid of that's usable: clothes go to clothing swaps as well as donation bins, books go to libraries and benefit auctions, jewelry to benefit auctions, reusable computing equipment to organizations that refurb and donate it, etc. At this point, we compost and recycle much more than we throw out.
- Committed to not driving anywhere a few days out of the month and carpooling more and taking public transportation when we can. Biking is not a option for us physically or scheduling-wise and we still need two cars for the moment, but I hope to go down to one car and car sharing in the future and we do walk a fair amount.
- Meat free meals and days multiple times a week
- Carbon offsets, particularly for plane flights and longer road trips. Offset programs that I like: Nature Conservancy, MN Tree Trust, Cool Effect, Million Metres Stream Project (if we travel outside the U.S., I look for local organizations to donate to).
- Use CREDO Mobile for my cell phone as a much greener alternative to other companies
- Investments - I screen out oil companies and other big polluters from my 401K, have my mutual fund holdings with Pax World Funds and own small amounts of stock in our local coop and in Terracycle.
- Switched out my credit cards to cards with B-corp banks or credit unions. Regular accounts are at a local credit union.
- This is the first year we've gone backward. We had to have to our big ash tree in the front yard cut down due to various factors (Emerald Ash Borer, roots growing into the foundation, etc.). We'll be planting a serviceberry in its place and getting something more durable, better suited to our small front yard and producing edible berries in the bargain.
- Got rid of one air conditioner and put in insulating curtains in the bedroom.
- Replaced the utility sink in the basement. No more leaks!
- Added insulation in the garage.
- Added more native plants
- Doubled down on cutting our food waste with more meal planning, more freezing of leftovers and more focus on making sure leftovers get eaten by incorporating them into other meals and so forth.
- Added scrap metal recycling and rag recycling, as well as getting a paper shredder so we can recycle more paper.
- Getting a new energy efficient furnace/AC this summer
- Redoing the attic (finally!). Between this and the furnace, we should be able to cut our house's carbon footprint by at least 50%.
- Digging up more of the lawn and replacing it with native plants
And that's it for now. Feel free to share the things that you're trying or any questions you have about what we're doing.
Here's my official schedule.
Friday 8:30 PM
Right of Passages Fae Style
A rite of passage is a ceremony of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It often comes with a significant change of status. Who are the Fae? How do the Fae go about their rituals, and are we in any danger just by discussing it? Right of passages stories in which faeries feature prominently are often female-centric. Why?
Tom Hogan, Jane Yolen, Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer
Saturday 4:00 PM
GOH Interview - Naomi Kritzer
The interview of our Guest of Honor Naomi Kritzer
Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer
Saturday 8:30 PM
Artificial Intelligence Best Practices - What do AI's want?
'OK Google, tell me why humans should be afraid of Artificial Intelligence.' In 1951, the year of the first rudimentary chess program and neural network, Alan Turing predicted that machines would 'outstrip our feeble powers' and 'take control.' In 1965, Turing's colleague Irving Good posited that devices more intelligent than humans could design devices more intelligent than themselves, ad infinitum: 'Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.'
What can we do to minimize the chances that our robots and computers turn against humanity or enslave us for our own good? Is it possible to create a free-willed intelligence that finds humanity likeable? What will Artificial Intelligence look like and what will it want?
Sharon Kahn (m), Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Eleanor Arnason, Shaun Jamison
Sunday 1:00 PM
Fanfic Writing Is Writing.
Many People write Fanfic, including some pros. What's fun about writing in an established universe? What does a writer get from the experience that's different than other writing styles? When does an author decide to file off the serial numbers and send it off to the publisher?
Katie Clapham (m), Ruth Berman, Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Peg Kerr
I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas at ClexaCon, which was an adventure. I flew out on Sun Country on Thursday morning in a blizzard, which was fun. 50 mph winds, snow, ice, other airlines canceling right and left, but Sun Country is hardcore and they just kept de-icing until it was determined that we could go (about 5 hours late). It was pretty bumpy but we made it. By then, I’d been up since 3AM my time and just wanted to get to Tropicana quickly. I foolishly took a cab (the nice fans that I met traveling to ClexaCon from MN took a rideshare) and we both arrived at the same time. Then we waited and waited and waited. The hotel let us all hang out in the checkout line for 45 minutes before more staff arrived. Then there was something of a scramble to connect with my table assistant, Theresa, to get my badge, dump luggage and deal with FedEx, which charged an extra “resort fee” just for being there, on top a $200 shipping bill because I didn’t ship “early” enough (I thought 4 days would suffice). But they had my box of books and my table banner and we were able to get set up without too much pain. Then I went off to dinner with Rachel Gold, Andi Marquette and Rachel’s friend Patrice. This was followed by an hour or so of lounging in the lobby with Andi and sharing publisher gossip, writing careers, conventions and other fun stuff.
Friday was an amazing sales day. I gather it was not the case for many of the other vendors, but for our table, it was terrific. We had Queen of Swords Press titles, Blind Eye Books titles and Rachel Gold titles and everyone sold at least a few books. Lots of cards distributed, lots of newsletter signups, all good. We did a decent job of spelling each other and it was a fine, if overly long, day (the dealer’s area is open 10-12 hours per day, for 3 days running). I wandered upstairs, took a hot bath, read and collapsed. Saturday was about the same, only somewhat less so. I bought Season 1 of Wynonna Earp and some comics, chatted with a bunch of folks and sold books like mad. The hours continued to be pretty grueling. There were also many, many artist tables with similar items for sale and no signage for the vendor area, and no good way for the artists to make their table stand out, for the most part. This became significant as the day wore on. I noticed that foot traffic was definitely down from last year, but sales for us were better than last year. Sunday, foot traffic was nil, sales were very low and a lot of people were not happy on many levels for many sound reasons. In short, it was a very uneven con to vend at. Other publishers had not great weekends, but I think the comics folks had the worst of it.
I had already had some issues with programming, who after insisting on adding an author to a panel we had already set up, failed to ask either her or the rest of us when we were available. They then proceeded to schedule the panel in the last timeslot so that it overlapped with the close-out of the Dealer’s Room on Sunday (where closing out early is discouraged, taxes have to be paid in cash and Theresa would have had to deal with packing up if I wasn’t around). When I asked them to consider changing it, I was informed that I “could just close up early.” Given that tables cost over $300 and last year’s Sunday sales were pretty decent, I opted to not appear on the panel. The author they were so eager to add? Left Saturday due to a scheduling conflict. The moderator was never informed that half the panel had bailed, just to make things exciting.
And speaking of exciting, there was a Saturday night dance party, scheduled to run until 4AM. I was on the 4th floor. At 2AM, I got blasted out of bed by a wall of dance music. From the first floor. Neither the air conditioning nor ear plugs made a dent in the volume. In desperation, I called the Tropicana Hotel desk to ask if they could get the volume turned down (apparently on the lower floors, beds were shaking from the noise) and was informed that they had “no control” over the event space (which is in in fact part of the hotel) and that lots of other people were calling so maybe they’d send somebody by to ask about turning things down a bit. Reader, this did not happen and I thought a whole lot less of both the Tropicana and ClexaCon as I lay awake for 2 solid hours before finally falling asleep for another hour before having to get back up again for another long day in the vending area.
In the meantime, other vendors had a much rougher weekend. It turns out that there was a leadership shakeup between this year and last, which was definitely better organized. Lots of things went awry and responses ranged from the clueless to the disrespectful and people are pretty pissed about it. There were apparently differences in what people were charged for tables, no signage for the vendor area and other significant issues that made this a very expensive con to travel to, but not make money at. Sales wise, we did well, but it certainly didn’t cover all our costs. We worked the table in shifts, which helped with the ridiculously long hours. But it still sucked doing it on too little sleep, which was the case for all of us. Would I go back? It depends. I’d like to because I sold books and met some nice people and I had some good chats, but this year’s event has taken a huge physical toll on me and the various and sundry semi-spontaneous fees (FedEx, noted above for example, plus The Tropicana’s charges) meant that I spent more than I budgeted for. So very much a mixed bag. At the same time, it is a unique event that focuses on queer women and allies in fandom and I hope they get their shit together and that there are more of these to come. Apparently 6 members of the leadership team resigned in the last two days so it’s not too clear what will happen next. Sigh. Now to rest up and prep for the UntitledTown Book Festival in Green Bay in a week and a half.
Claire Eliza Bartlett, We Rule the Night. Discussed elsewhere.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls. Reread. It was interesting to revisit this middle-aged coming-of-age tale after it's had more than a decade to influence the rest of the field. I still love the worldbuilding and the characters, but it was important to keep in mind how much of an influence it's been--that it looks a little less groundbreaking in retrospect than it actually is because other people have used that soil. Such a fun book, such a good book--and I'm so glad we've been thinking and writing about it since.
Pamela Dean, The Dubious Hills. Reread. One of my favorite books ever, and basically I will use any excuse to reread it. The way the worldbuilding and the characterization intertwine always makes me think...and then I always get pulled into the story. Go read this book. Go read this book again.
Emilie Demant Hatt, By the Fire: Sami Folktales and Legends. Discussed elsewhere.
Nicola Griffith, Hild. Reread. This is so immersive for me and so lovely and all the details and...it's just so easy to slide into this cultural mindset. I hope that Griffith meant it that she's writing more of St. Hilda's story because I want that so much.
Barbara Hambly, Cold Bayou. The latest Benjamin January mystery. This is a perfectly serviceable entry in the series but not one of the standouts, and it's a terrible place to start because it relies so much on you already knowing and caring about the characters. There's not even a murder until halfway through the book, so if you don't already want to spend time with these characters, go a bit further back in the series and try there. If you do--it further elaborates on some key relationships, particularly with January's mother.
Larry Hammer, trans., Ice Melts in the Wind: The Seasonal Poems of the Kokinshu. Discussed elsewhere.
Beth Hilgartner, A Murder for Her Majesty. Reread. After so many years. My friend Ginger happened to mention this in passing, and I almost certainly lit up visibly, because I loved it as a child and did not remember the title. (My booklog only goes back to age 23 or 24 reliably. This is a source of sorrow sometimes.) There is a girl who disguises herself as a boy to run from murderers and does not do the sword fighting! No! She sings in a cathedral choir! There is Elizabethan roughhousing! There are Latin mottos iced onto cookies! There is music theory! I loved this book so much, and now I know which one it is, hurrah. Also...it is pretty anachronistic, now that I have somewhat more extensive knowledge of the Elizabethan era than I did when I was 8. So one must be braced. Still. Eeeee.
Ann Leckie, The Raven Tower. Extensive thoughts about what it's like to be a god in a rock! Cholera or dysentery or similar disease! Despite being based on a very famous story whose parallels become very obvious as you read, this is not like anything else. I'm thrilled to see Ann doing something completely different and can't wait to see what she does next, but in the meantime I sure enjoyed this.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems. This is very much a late-life collection, with thoughts about aging and death coming to the fore. I found it touching and valuable.
James E. Montgomery, Loss Sings. A slim chapbook about grief and translation. I would have liked for him to connect a few dots about different kinds of translation--to have some thoughts about translating for people who have or have not had a personal experience, or between those two groups--but what he had was interesting and did not outstay its welcome.
Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems Volume One. I wish there was a Collected Works out, but right now I'm approximating as best I can with this. I just keep having the urge to immerse myself. I know I'm going to return to several of these poems at important life moments, and also at random, just because.
Suzanne Palmer, Finder. Discussed elsewhere.
Kate Quinn, The Alice Network. This is a female-centered spy novel that spans two world wars and an important bit thereafter. The things it's doing and saying about spying illuminate other works in the genre by contrast. I found it interesting, exciting, worthwhile. Will definitely look for more of Quinn's work.
Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota, eds., Uncanny Issue 27. Kindle. I had an essay in this, and I don't review work I'm in.
Jo Walton, Lifelode. Reread. This is still one of my favorite domestic fantasies, and I love the worldbuilding that is interwoven with everything and yet not...centered in a traditionally questy fantasy novel way. I love that the shape of this book is a character shape and yet the worldbuilding is not neglected.
Fran Wilde, Riverland. Oh good heavens this book. I picked it up one Sunday afternoon and basically did not put it down until it's gone. It has so many things I love, glass and rivers and family relationships, and it is breathtaking in its handling of incredibly difficult things happening to its young protagonists. The way that the heroine both internalizes and fights the bad things that are happening in her life is so human and so real and cuts like broken glass. Highly recommended, but with care to pick your day so that you can handle the intensity of this book.
We have a slightly more concrete plan for the coming weeks, with the understanding that plans can change from day to day based on test results, scheduling issues, the whims of the insurance companies, and more.
Amy’s currently going through her third round of R-EPOCH chemotherapy (her fifth or sixth total round of chemo, depending on how you count them.) The goal is to do one more round the first full week in May, then do another CT scan. If she looks cancer-free at that time, we’ll move on to the bone marrow transplant step.
I got choked up the first time the phrase “cancer-free” came up. There’s so much hope and fear wrapped up in those two words, and in the results of that scan a month or so from now. We know she’s responded well to treatment so far, but there’s so much unknown…
We got to spend some good family time together for my birthday weekend, which was nice. I ate way too much, which was also nice 🙂
I’d like to believe the end is in sight, and we’re starting to move toward the next steps of her recovery and rebuilding our new normal. The whole family is pretty damn tired of cancer and chemo and all the rest. This crap gets old pretty quick.
We learned something exciting this week, though. Amy’s been using an infusion pump that delivers her chemo cocktail over the course of 3-4 days. But the tubing has sprung a leak at least three different times, all in the same spot. It looks like the chemotherapy meds are actually eating through the air filter in the line. These are the chemicals they’re pumping into my wife’s body…
Well, if they eat through filters, hopefully they’ll gobble up cancer cells even better.
I called Shawn to confirm, and she said, "What ever you do, don't look at the pictures. It's heartbreaking."
I had intended to follow Shawn's advice, but when I stopped at the McDonald's on Rice Street to pick up a quick, late lunch, they had CNN on a big screen TV (who knew McDonald's even had TVs??). I saw the devastation. At that point the fire was still burning, the spire had fallen. Then, I listened to BBC news on NPR and cried.
Yeah, I'm one of the privileged ones who has been to see Notre Dame, not once, but twice. I went when I was 16 or so, as part of my high school French trip. My parents took Shawn and I back, some time in the 1990s. We have a picture Shawn took of one of the gargoyles hanging in our kitchen.
My having been there is NOT why I cried.
I've cried many of the same tears thinking about the library in Alexandria. I've cried the same tears when water leaked in the roof of the Immigration History Research Center. It's not about _my_ connection to the place, it's about the place and its connection to history, to the world, to future generations--not just tourists, either.
I had a dream last night that I woke up from that I knew was about Notre Dame. Shawn has hired a new administrative assistant at her job at the Minnesota Historical Society who starts today. Last night, I dreamt I was this new employee. In my dream, I was moving into someone else's cubicle, an archivist who'd been working on a number of projects. Of the things I was cleaning of of this space were paper wrapped paper napkins. They were napkins that had advertisements printed on them from the Pillsbury company. When I carefully opened up the package in my dream, I discovered that the napkins--which each had separate ads on the--had been water damaged, the whole package of them, hundreds of individual bits of corporate history, had been fused together. Shawn (who was also NOT-Shawn in the way of dreams) wanted me to see if I could save any of them. I woke up in a cold sweat telling her that these had to go to conservation immediately, as I was afraid of ripping them.
When I woke up, I thought this is what I feel about Notre Dame.
Small history is as important as big history, what's even more important is that it's preserved. When things are lost, big or small, they are lost. I mourned the napkins with corporate ads on them in my dream the same way I mourn Notre Dame. It's all history. It's all valuable. And, yes, we can rebuild, but things are still lost.
And it's okay to cry over the things that are lost.
This is the translation of a 1922 work by a Danish woman who traveled extensively in the Norden collecting stories. She also made some woodcuts related to the stories, which are reproduced here--one of the places where black-and-white reproduction absolutely does a great job for the material.
It matters that Demant Hatt was a woman in this field. It matters a lot. Because the people she had access to hear stories from, the stories she got to hear, were much more evenly balanced between men and women both as tellers and as characters. Compared to other compilations of Saami [both spellings are used, this is the one I favor, both are fine though] tales, this is a far more accurate representation of range.
And it's got so many great things. It's got girls with agency to spare; it's got feisty old ladies; it's got reindeer and murder and weird northern birds. It's got origin stories. It's got "we don't know anyone from OUR band who would do this but we HEARD of a girl who did this" stories. I was so excited when I heard this book existed, and it did not in any way disappoint. If you're interested in Arctic peoples, or even if you just like folklore, this is a must-have.
This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, Nisi Shawl, Pamela Dean, Gwyneth Jones , and Caroline Stevermer.
I swear I'm not going to shift to making this series all about people I'm personally friends with...but neither am I going to neglect people whose work fits the series concept just because they happen to be good company for lunch.
The size and variety of Pat's oeuvre gives lots of room for variety, and obviously some works will stand out as more favorite than others. My obscure faves are the stories in the shared Liavek worlds, handled deftly and now available in Points of Departure along with Pamela Dean's stories in the same world. The handling of wry humor, family dynamics, and worldbuilding in these stories charmed me from the first one I encountered, but they're even better as a set.
I recently reread a better-known favorite, Dealing With Dragons, which reminded me of some of the things I love about Pat's work--the wry tone, as above, perhaps obviously. But also the way that women have a wide variety of relationships with each other. The first page made me think, oh, I don't remember this very well, is it going to be one of those books where golden-haired girls who like embroidery are Bad and you have to be Not Like Them to protag? And I should have remembered that it was Pat, she was not going to do that, and sure enough there's room for a wide range of skills and interests--and for a wide range of reactions to and interactions with each other. This was ground-breaking for so many "why don't you ever see a heroine who" conversations, and it holds up so very well.
Just rereading one made me want to go back and reread the entire series. And also Sorcery and Cecelia. And also Snow White and Rose Red. It's like quicksand. But in a good way. It's like very complimentary quicksand that knows how to play the beats on a widely varied set of tropes...so percussionist quicksand...look, this is a good thing, I promise, let's get back to the dragons.
Friday was not pleased with yesterday’s snowfall. Pick a season, Michigan!
- Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase on Apartment Featuring Residents’ Favorite Books
- U.S.S. Enterprise, LEGO Edition
- Animals + Snow