16 August 2004
The best thing about flying into Minneapolis on a Sunday afternoon is that you can see the speedboats on Lake Minnetonka and the sailboats on Calhoun and Nokomis, and as you get closer you can even see windsurfers on Nokomis. And the park you drive past to get to Rachel and Ben's. And you can see C.J.'s house from here! Er, there. Well, that's usually the case, flying in the daytime. But the pilot kindly circled around to the west so we could know all the stuff we were seeing coming in.
There was a wee blondie called Emily sitting in the seat in front of us, and I played peek with her for a good long time. She was at the age where peek is a very good game. Also where Mark was fascinating. I think it's because he's got more stuff to look at: glasses and a beard in addition to the usual eyes and nose and mouth and all. His charming personality doesn't explain it when he's got his nose in a book. Babies like to look at him.
We got home to three ripe cherry tomatoes and two ripe peppers. That is, we hope they're ripe peppers. See, what we thought we were getting is the kind of Hungarian pepper that's roughly the size and shape of a bell pepper and is kind of a straw-ish yellow color. These are jalapeņo-shaped and -sized. And bright red. We looked at them and said, "Hmmm. Not looking like they'll ever be straw-colored and large," so we picked them. I have no idea what they'll taste like. I'm a little apprehensive about using them. Also, the basil has gone mad. Seriously, if you come to visit us before the hard frost, for heaven's sake, watch out for the basil, because it will try to get you.
I think Grandma Gritter had a good birthday. I hope so. We had a picnic at Sarah and Jeff's, and we went out to Muskegon to the beach, and I flew a kite for the first time, and there was generally good stuff. Got to see Mark's grands and folks and sister and brother-in-law and several aunts and a couple of cousins. Also the niece-kitty and the nephew-kitty. They are Nice Kitties, even if they make me snozzly. Cat plus laser pointer equals fun.
Also I got to see some Olympics stuff. It's not the Winter Olympics, but it'll do until 2006. (Winter Olympics: far superior to Summer Olympics. Far, far, far. Skiing! Speed skating! Hockey! Luuuuuuuge!) Mark and I thought that Greek sculpture involved a heck of a lot more nudity, and also we were pretty amused at the giant torch dealie's shape, and also we could have used less commentary on the early bits of the parade o' Greek history and more on the later bits. You know, the stuff not everybody learns in school. It took Mark nine minutes into the opening before he shouted, "Shut up, Bob Costas!" as the screen. It took me twenty-four (maybe twenty-three, now I'm not certain), but I caught up with him by the end of the night. We even got to intersperse a few, "Shut up, Katie Couric!"s with it.
Bob Costas and Katie Couric. I hesitate to ask whether it could get worse, because I know it could. But it shouldn't, is the thing.
I have a theory. Here's my theory: if someone has to hand Katie Couric a card to read to tell you what something symbolizes, it doesn't. At least not very well. "And that glowing thing there symbolizes a regional love of feta." Ummm...it does? No it doesn't! Katie Couric, I call bullshit!
Is anyone comfortable with the president using "nuance" as a dirty word? That's just not right.
So, there's what I read this weekend. I finished Liz Williams's The Ghost Sister and enjoyed it, though the ending was not quite to my taste. I read Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Oh dear. I was so disappointed in that book, because parts of it absolutely enthralled me, and yet the "present is absolutely bad in all ways and horrible horrible wretched" did not in any way enhance my reading experience. Things were entirely too cut-and-dried for my taste. The possible futures were Good Future and Bad Future. The Bad Future wore a black hat and entered to ominous music, so you could tell which one it was. I wanted to stick with the Good Future and see its big problems in more detail. The Bad Future was just boring as hell, and it just didn't look generally possible from where I sit. It wasn't a dystopian spur to action; I had no sense of "wow, gosh, I'd better make sure it doesn't get like that," because, well, honestly. And yet the Good Future was interesting enough that it was more frustrating, because I knew Piercy could do better, and she just hadn't bothered.
After that I read Tim Powers's On Stranger Tides and enjoyed it with the swashing and the buckling and all. It was in the "decent Powers" category at least, if not as much "good Powers" as The Stress of Her Regard or Declare. And then there was C.J. Cherryh's Forge of Heaven, which I fell into like I fall into most Cherryh books, and mixed my metaphors thereafter, because it's half like swimming and half chewy. Want more Cherryh. More.
Mark and I went to Schuler's, the local large independent there in Grand Rapids, and I got Albert Goldbarth's Adventures in Ancient Egypt, poems related (sometimes very peripherally) to Ancient Egypt, and I read them, and I thought about what different things Marymary does with Ancient Stuff, and how I kind of secretly like Marymary's way better, but I'm glad that there can be both.
And then I read Johanna Sinisalo's Troll, which I got because how many Finnish fantasy novels in translation are there around here? And I enjoyed it, somewhat, and I'd buy another of her books, but I sat there reading it and thinking of all the people I share books with and thinking, "not his kind of book, not her kind of book, not his kind of book, not his kind of book, not her kind of book...." Bits of it made me chuckle quietly at their Finnishness, though. And now I'm reading K.J. Parker's Shadow, which I picked up because I liked Parker's previous series when I borrowed it from Stella, even if it was deeply disturbing. This one is not quite as good so far, but I'll still probably get the rest of the series at some point.
I think I'm feeling well enough to haul Quicksilver around when I'm done with Shadow. I'm going to be reading hardbounds and other people's books preferentially over the next few weeks, so that I have paperbacks still available for the plane trip to Boston two weeks from tomorrow. Two weeks from tomorrow. Thank God. I think I had been discounting the existence of the week of the 23rd because Mark will be in California. And while that's an inconvenience and not the world's happiest thing and all that, it will not paralyze me for the week, in work or in chores or even in relaxation, as long as I choose relaxing activities that don't require a Mark. I have more time than I feel like I have. This is a very good thing.
I worked on Zodiac House on the road, some prose and some bits of subplotting that will make it all fall together when I sit down to write it for real. And now I'll be back to Sampo, writing down the very long home stretch, heading towards the light...at the end of the tunnel, that is, not the near-death kind. I hope. That which does not kill us sells many copies? I can hope on that one, too....
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