We did another Crazy Guides tour when we arrived, and it was excellent. Our guide was more experienced than the last one (we were the last one's second ever solo tour and he was so nervous), and we got to see areas of Krakow we'd not otherwise have seen. The mound, the swimming quarry and the bar in Kazmeriez were favourites of mine. Then, after the tour, we had a good solid Polish meal, and went to a lovely bar.
This was a mistake. If you must sample the vodka while you're in Poland I recommend you do so in a bar you don't like, that's playing crap music. Trust me.
Friday. Well, Friday was meant to be a day trip to Zakopane; but things got off on the wrong foot when I managed to turn off my alarm and go back to a deep sleep. Thankfully eyekiller rang me and got me up with 45 whole minutes to spare. Then the tour company rang to say the guide had had a car accident and he was trying to arrange an alternative. Have to say we were glad of the extra time, but still nowhere near to contemplating breakfast. With only minor barfage on my part, we were ready for the new tour time.
Except we didn't have a guide as such, more a driver; and the longer the tour went on the more obvious this was. The poor guy could tell us next to nothing about the historic houses, churches and villages we saw; and had to keep asking for directions. The chairlift was good though. As were the mountains, forests and rivers. The destination of the trip, Zakopane town, was a bit of a disappointment. It was a bit like a wee seaside town you'd get here: all gift shops and hotdog stalls. I had an iced tea and a doze on the table, eyekiller had a tea and a nice sit-down. The town smelt of horse poo, cheese and hotdogs.
Our guide offered us a whitewater rafting trip in the afternoon; but I wasn't fit for it, or in the mood for it. I think the poor bloke was trying to find something for us to do. In the end we visited an ancient wooden church, I had a sit-down til a dizzy spell passed, and we went back to Krakow. There we slept, went out for dinner, decided we weren't in the mood for dinner, and came home early to sleep our brains out.
Saturday. Oh blessed, beloved, not-hungover Saturday. It was blue-skied and sunny and we were heading underground to the salt mines. Even though it was my second visit, I thought it was great. Still got an "ooh" when I first saw St, Kinga's cathedral this time round. And I'd forgotten how clean and nit-dusty they smelt. We had 3 really annoying people in our tour group, one of whom shot to the top of the list by wandering off at the end and making the rest of us to stand for 10-15 minutes until they could be found again. Yes, they count you into the mines; and they count you out again. The guide scolded the wanderers while the rest of us stood around looking stern and obedient.
Back in Krakow we went for lunch. Which turned out to be a disappointing burger, and a ciabatta so hard the knife and I gave up and just ate the filling. Then we waved at the Internet over the webcam and had a lovely wander round the city. Dinner on Saturday was in Pod Baranem, and was the meal of the trip. It's now my joint fav place to eat in Krakow. The mushroom soup starter was amazing *drool* We had a dander round the city centre after, watching the Saturday night crowds. How lovely to sit outside a cafe after 10 at night and not be freezing cold.
Home on Sunday, sorry to see the end of the trip.
tl,dr: Krakow is fantastic. Go see.
I've spoken to the specialty pharmacy, and my Regorafenib should be arriving in Portland today. To my mild surprise, they are treating this as a pharmaceutical co-pay in line with the insurance company formulary. This is often not the case with specialty pharmacy prescriptions, I'm told. I'll start the medication next Monday when I'm back in Portland. Apparently, the side effects are a real treat.
The Nebula Awards Weekend
I'm still parsing the Nebula Awards Weekend from an emotional perspective. I'm not hung up on losing the Best Novella Nebula — that's just the way the game is played. Rather, as I said the other day, I'm struggling with my sense of being on a farewell tour. It really was a terrific weekend in a number of ways, but the reality of my foreshortened mortality is starting to grind me down.
That same reality of foreshortened mortality is grinding down the people around me as well. This is creating drama among my immediate circle of family and friends. I am very ill-equipped to handle that sort of drama. I dislike it in general, and right now my reserves are stretched so thin that dealing with such things is a profound distraction. There will only be more of this down the road as well all respond to my deepening illness.
Those aforementioned reserves really are an issue. I have no depth these days. Anything small can upset me. I don't have the bandwidth to do everything I want. I frustrate easily, and have trouble tracking and staying with both emotional issues and projects. Right now I cannot tell if this is stress from the new diagnosis, which at some point I'll integrate, or if this is my new reality. I resent every step of loss.
My METAtropolis: Green Space novella "Rock of Ages" is being critiqued tomorrow. This means I don't have to do any critical reading today, so I'm cooking momos [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] for tonight's dinner.
Still struggling a bit with the altitude. Had a terrible night's sleep last night. I did okay the night before, thanks to my friend Lorazepam, and will probably have to do that again tonight. And I regret not being able to go out hiking here during the day, as my UV issues from Vectibix linger on.
All that being said, I am very glad to be here.
When the tough get weathered, the tough are driven to cook. Since my NZ potatoes (from Sydney markets) turned out to be genuinely heritage and therefore not potatoes at all, but a type of yam, I've made my favourite yam dish to sustain me over the next few days. It's ages since I've had an occasion to break out the pandan essence, too. And I don't have to eat it tonight (which is good, for I'm not hungry) but can warm it up and have it after teaching tomorrow night. And maybe on Friday and Saturday as well. And it's purple and green: my feminist cooking spree.
I've done a day's work, I guess (notice how reluctantly I admit this) but I really wanted to do a big day's work and be Super Gillian. I'm not the only one affected by this giant rain belt that has descended on us, and I rather suspect I'm not the only one who will be spending tomorrow in catch-up.
My task for the rest of the night (should my eyes hold out) is to read some of the last Wheel of Time book and some of a book on Medieval cooking. If I can't do the real work, then at least I can manage some of the lighter and more fun side of things. By 'lighter' I do not refer to the combined weight of the books. The Wheel of Time book in particular, weighs in at heavy (900 pages!). I know slow readers who are working their way through this series and all I can say is that they have more patience and greater arm-strength than I have. I'm enjoying the reading, of course, but am very grateful I work quickly!
Washington state woods. Photo © 2008, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
The Phosphorous Atom Quantum Computing Machine — An Australian team unveils the fundamental building block of a scalable quantum computer that could be embedded in today’s silicon chips.
New Efforts to Overhaul Psychiatric Diagnoses Spurred by DSM Turmoil — (Via Marta Murvosh.)
If the Earth had rings — (Via Lisa Costello.)
Red Sprite Lightning with Aurora — A strange photo from APOD. Well worth reading the write-up.
Had the Cookie Crumbled Differently: East and West Dakota
Pat Robertson shrugs off adultery, CBN regrets the misunderstanding — Robertson said the “secret” was to “stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. OK.” So glad religious conservatives had this viewpoint during the Clinton years. Imagine the political circus if they'd taken adultery seriously back then.
Asked by Wolf Blitzer if She Thanked God for Surviving the Tornado, Oklahoma Woman Responds: ‘I’m Actually An Atheist’ — Heh. It's a stupid question on the face of things. If we're supposed to thank God for surviving such an event, aren't we equally blaming God for the lives lost? (Via
Anti-Sandy-relief Oklahoma Senator: Aid for Oklahoma is “totally different” than Sandy — The only difference is that the tornado victims vote in Oklahoma. Just like government support for hard working farmers is totally different from food stamps for the lazy urban poor. Ah, that justly famed conservative intellectual consistency.
Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn Will Seek To Offset Tornado Aid — At least he's being intellectually consistent in his conservative cruelty, unlike Senator Inhofe cited above. Unusual for a Republican, that.
Fisheries could be in hot water due to climate change — Warming waters are altering the distribution and abundance of fish species. Amazing, the lengths liberals will go to for their global warming hoax. Even to warming entire oceans. Thank god for Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party, otherwise we might have to do something about this.
Will Republicans Screw Up Again? Some Are Already Overreaching — Republicans allowed themselves to look as if they were primarily interested in scoring political points and overturning the results of the 1996 election, even if it meant paralyzing the government. That same danger exists once again for the GOP. "Look as if…" That's remarkably kind to a party whose top legislative priority was ensuring that Obama was a one-term president. Not jobs. Not the economy. Not healthcare. Not our foreign wars. No, overturning the results of the 2008 election. And now, the 2012. They're practically built their entire brand and message around it.
QotD?: What did you read yesterday?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (workshop)
Hours slept: 5.5 hours (fitful)
Body movement: n/a
Number of FEMA troops on my block scamming disaster aid slush funds: 0
Currently reading: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
I’ve been sort of puttering in the same chapter of Hobgoblin for a few days now–mostly thinking about it, making a few notes–because I knew there was a problem and I didn’t know how to fix it. In fact I hadn’t quite defined the problem…I was getting closer, but it was remaining elusive.But then this morning it all fell together. In my mind, that is; I still have to go back in and apply all this to the book. Which will mean changing a few things in an earlier chapter–moving something back there from a later chapter, and adding a short scene–and then bringing the solution forward into this chapter.
Basically, I realized I hadn’t fully nailed down Who Knows What, and When; and the related issue of Who Believes What, and When. So I had characters sort of dancing around issues, going first one way and then the other from scene to scene, making no overall sense. But now I’ve worked that all out–I know where everybody stands on The Thing; now I just have to go, you know, write it.
Which I didn’t do today because I worked on editing anthology stories all day, which is a joy and a delight, but it still does take time.
And I didn’t work on Hobgoblin this evening either, because I drove to Beaverton to see John Scalzi enjoy a box of donuts.
Oh and also read and sign, and be his generally delightful and fabulous self. He is truly one of the good guys. I’m glad I went.
- Current Location:Witchnest Manor
- Current Mood: accomplished
The Year of Ancient Ghosts is the first collection of stories by multiple award-winning Australian writer Kim Wilkins. Born in England, Kim Wilkins is the author of over 20 novels for readers of all ages. Her debut novel The Infernal won two Aurealis Awards. Her latest books, contemporary epic romances, are published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman, and include Lighthouse Bay and Wildflower Hill. Kim Wilkins is a four-times winner of the Aurealis Award, twice winner of the Sassy Award for popular fiction, and winner of the Romantic Book of the Year award. The book collects 5 novellas, comprising two written especially for this collection and 2 reprints and the first print publication of “Wild Dreams of Blood.
Kim Wilkins is one of the authors who has long been on my “automatically buy” list, so when Ticonderoga Press announced the publication of “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, a collection of novellas and short stories, I happily pre-ordered the signed limited edition hardcover. As an aside, if you’re ever in the position where you’re trying to decide if Ticonderoga’s limited editions are worth the money, they absolutely are. They are absolutely beautiful books.
This collection is filled with vibrant, beautiful prose which highlights Wilkins’ expertise in the medieval period. In all of the stories, fantasy blends seamlessly with reality, to the point where it is difficult sometimes to tell which elements are fantastical and which are historical.
The collection opens with the titular “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, original to this collection, in which Jenny, unable to live by the side of her husband Lachlan, comatose after an accident, brings her two-year-old daughter Mary to the Orkney Islands, a trip that had been planned in order for Lachlan to write a book there. The ancient atmosphere of the Orkneys is vividly captured, along with the magic and mystery of the place. Gripping and emotional from start to finish.
“The Crown of Rowan” is an fantasy piece, reprinted here, set in a fantasy version of eight-century England. Told from the perspective of Rose, wife of one of the kings of Thyrsland, this story, for me, doesn’t quite hit the mark emotionally. In the afterward, Wilkins states that this story is a prequel to a fantasy epic in progress, and the worldbuilding in this indicates that the novel could be something really special.
“Wild Dreams of Blood”, also a reprint, intertwines the life of a modern-day woman, Sara (named in memory of Sara Douglass, a fact which brought a tear to my eye when I read the afterward), with Norse mythology. Wilkins renders Sara, and her violent tendencies and strength, so vividly that the appearance of a Norse god feels just as real. One of my favourites from this collection.
“Dindrana’s Lover” is another reprint, slightly reworked, in the Arthurian mythos, telling the story of Percival’s sister, and what happens to her after she is left in a sinister castle by her brother and Galahad. Dindrana herself lives and breathes, bringing real life to her tragic story. Creepy, gorgeous and heartwrenching.
The last story in the collection is the original “The Lark and the River”, which juxtaposes Christian mythology with the pagan/heathen worship which Christianity replaced. There is a real reverence for both kinds of religion in this piece, and Wilkins’ beautiful prose highlights the emotion of the protagonist Merewyn as she confronts her fate.
Overall, this is a collection well worth owning, even if you own the books in which the reprinted stories first appeared. “The Year of Ancient Ghosts” alone is worth the price of the book, I think. If you’re a fan of Wilkins, then buying this one is going to be a no brainer. And if you’ve never read her before, this could be a very good place to start.
Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.
Long story short, when all the extra layers of shingles were pulled away for the roof work, rotting trim and siding were revealed around the attic windows. No water is getting inside or anything, and really, it's to be expected; the house is over a hundred years old, and this looks like original material. It wasn't managed well over the years, and it should've been removed/restored with the rest of the exterior restoration before we moved in, but I will save that rant.
I resolve instead to quit being aggravated at the half-ass repairs and dumbass remodeling performed on this place over the years, and instead I shall be pleased that THIS MUCH, at least, will be done correctly - and by professionals this time, goddammit.
Anyway. Dude will be here tomorrow to give us a quote. Let's knock this out while we can afford to, and then not worry about it anymore - that's what I say.
In other news, this afternoon a freaked-out skittering noise gave me a heart attack, for it was coming from our living room fireplace. At first I figured, "Squirrel." Then maybe, when I thought I heard feathers ... "Baby bird." We have had chimney swifts in the past, and 'tis the season, eh? Maybe some tiny not-quite-a-fledgling fell from a nest.
I summoned the husband. We conferred. We booted the dog out into the back yard, made sure the cat was secure in the back room, found a stray pillowcase, and counted to three before removing the cast-iron summer cover.
At first we saw nothing but darkness and old soot. Then a pair of small, panicky eyes looked up from the gloom beneath the old coal basket.* I almost had time to get, "Awwwww!" out of my mouth, but then the tiny jerk made a beeline for my forehead.
It was indeed a chimney swift. Juvenile, and fledged - barely. Freaked out of its wee birdie mind. It bypassed the pillowcase entirely and bolted for the nearest window, where it left a sooty bird-print. Unharmed and undaunted, it set off around the house, leaving bird-prints all over the ceiling and walls until we finally managed to get the front door open and usher it back outside.
Godspeed, you fluffy little bastard.
(Last I saw, it was sitting on roof across the street, so I choose to believe that all is well, and our brief guest will live happily ever after.)
And that's all I've got today.
Tomorrow: Laundry, packing, printing up useful documents and instructions, and running last-minute errands. (I mean, in addition to the construction dude's visit.) I'll be gone from Thursday morning to Monday evening, and while I'm there you can find me at the following locations and times.
All the usual rules apply - come up and introduce yourself, say hello, hand me stuff to sign ... I'm happy to be of service! Just as long as I'm not eating, drinking, or in the bathroom. If you catch me running to or from a panel, you may have to run alongside me - but you're welcome to do so.
And now. Deep breath. Maybe a drink. Must settle in and let my heart calm down from the Surprise! baby bird incident. Good evening, everyone. Thanks for reading, and be well.
* It's a very narrow, long chimney - a set-up for burning coal, not wood. An adult bird might be able to navigate back out again, but not a baby.