Waffles and Huck

Steelflower in Snow

The Princess beat me at resurrecting this morning, so she made me coffee; also, a crow has decided that the gutter right over my office window is the premium perch for keeping an eye on the backyard. I’m most of the way through Holland’s The Allies Strike Back, too, though I’ll have to grab book one of the trilogy from the library next. I dislike reading history out of order, but there’s nothing to be done for it.

Yesterday was pure Monday, ameliorated only by the prospect of waffles for dinner1 and the fact that HOOD really isn’t a bad story. When I finished the zero of Season One, I was feeling kind of low and like I wouldn’t be able to pull the series off, but now I’m much more sanguine. There’s one more revise after this, but first I’ve got to get through the initial pass. Thankfully, layering in more details and adding things I didn’t know when I started writing is the sum of the edits; structurally, the book holds up rather well.

I’m also reading Huckleberry Finn with the Princess. I’ve halted at the point where the king and duke show up, mostly because that’s when the narrative takes a turn and I want all my faculties about me during the Nonesuch and Mary Jane bits. If I have a favorite novel, the honor must go to Jane Eyre, but Huck is definitely in the top five2. One of the best school papers I ever wrote was a monstrous (somewhere around twenty pages, single-spaced, typed on a balky old manual typewriter) examination of the Mississippi as a symbol. I’m sure the teachers were not at all prepared for what they got, but I’d found a list purporting to be the right way to write college essays and followed it to the letter. Not only did I approach every damn thing the list said, I threw in all the alternatives they had listed under the main paragraph idea breakdowns.

I was a real joy to teach, I’m sure. But I got an A on that fucking paper.

This particular critical edition has the raftsmen’s scene in it, and I can see why Twain (or his editor) excised it; I can also see why Twain would want it in. And of course the breathless racism is jarring. Every time I read the n-word it’s like a punch to the gut, and while I still admire the scene where Huck says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell,”3 it doesn’t work unless Huck absolutely believes that the right thing to do is to turn Jim in. Even the right decision is suspect and provisional in a racist culture, and it’s sobering to unpick the logical consequences and knock-on effects.

And to see how little has changed since Twain wrote in the aftermath of the Civil War. I don’t quite see Huck as an answer to the war, though. Twain was struggling with endemic issues much as Dickens did (though with much more humor, it must be said) but the lacunae are huge. It makes one wonder about one’s own blind spots, swimming in different (but directly descended) cultural waters.

Or at least, it should, and if it doesn’t you should make it.

I tend not to halt to allow fellow readers to catch up while book-clubbing. Instead, I swallow the book whole, and if my fellow clubbers fall behind I go back and read certain bits to keep my memory fresh. So we’ll see how it goes. The Princess has the same edition I do, and wants to read critically, so it’s much slower for her than for me. I have about twenty years’ worth of skill she doesn’t, but on the other hand, she sees things I don’t, so I’m really looking forward to her analysis.

For a little while, after finishing Poison Prince revisions, I crawled into a movie or TV show at the end of the day, just stuffing my head with visuals to get my brain to stop chewing at itself. Now I’m in the secondary phase of recovery, where I’m stuffing text in; I’m crawling to the couch with a book instead. The kids are somewhat downcast, because watching movies with Mum is apparently pretty hilarious, but they’ll bring their Switches out and play quietly while I read, and every once in a while someone will say something amusing and we’ll all laugh. It’s a lovely way to spend an evening.

I just have to get a full day’s work in before I can get there, which means I need to get out the damn door and run. Breakfast hasn’t quite settled but at least I’m pretty sure I won’t lose my coffee if I head out, and that’s the important thing.

Over and out, my dears.

Patience

When I bought a couple grapevines, I didn’t think the second one would survive. It was a spindly, ill-tempered little thing, and did nothing the first year. It only sent out a few anemic leaves the second, and I thought it was done for. Still, I fed and watered and sang to it, hoping. The kids, used to me giving plants a long time to bounce back, shook their heads and left me to it.

This year, the spindly little bastard has exploded, and there are at least six bunches of grape-buds buried in its depths. The other vine, the luxuriously healthy one, still isn’t producing.

Sometimes it just takes a while for the fight to show any results. Keep singing, keep watering, keep hoping, keep fighting.

Eventually, there will be wine.

Chalk Tangle

Since it’s summer, I can use one of the running routes that goes through an elementary school. I vary my routes constantly, on the principle that my body will respond to exercise better if it doesn’t get bored and (more importantly) anyone watching me won’t be able to tell which route I’m going to choose when–elementary safety for a woman in this society, even one with a faithful canine guard literally attached to her hip.

Anyway, since school let out, I’ve been watching this wall gather more and more chalk. It seems a gentle way to give a message to the world: “Unicorns!”, “Confidence is Power”, “Love is Wealth”, “Valerie was here”.

It makes me happy, so the last time I went by, I had to stop in the middle of the run and take a snap. Miss B, confused, kept pulling at the leash around my waist, so if it’s a bit blurry, my apologies. But you get the idea.

Unicorns, indeed.

Storm, Season

I spent the weekend getting Jozzie & Sugar Belle–that infamous “nutless kangaroo shifter novella”–up for preorder. I didn’t mean to, mind you, I thought I’d bring it out in October, but it was so fun once I started the prep I decided a July release would be fine. I’m pretty sure nobody will buy it, but it made me laugh until my belly hurt, so I’m going to release it into the wild and see what happens.

There were also plenty of housecleaning chores, and the Little Prince is out of school for the summer. He attended a friend’s birthday party, and came home exhausted. I gather there were at least six teen males stuffed into one house, and the gaming was particularly fierce. (Those parents must be saints. Good heavens.)

So…it was a busy weekend, and finished off with thunderstorms Sunday evening. Miss B came slightly unhinged–she does not like thunder–and had to have half an anti-anxiety tab. Of course Odd Trundles was oblivious, until a strike less than three miles away gave forth a peal of thunder that came in my office window and startled him a bit. I closed my window, but he was already locked on BORK BORK BORK, so it took a little while to get him calmed down. By the time he did, the tab was working for B, and they both slept peacefully while the sky-gods battled.

I love storms; we don’t often get them here. Yesterday was strange because the thunder didn’t stop after one or two halfhearted rumbles. It was a proper, honest-to-goodness summer storm front, and the flashes and rumbling were almost constant whenever a cell moved overhead. It was glorious, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. This morning’s run, as a result, was somewhat steamy and sticky. I don’t mind the bees catching a ride in my hair, or the metallic-looking ones who want to drink my sweat–I mean, I’m producing it, they might as well get it while it’s there–but my eyes were watering, which happens on some runs, and the sweat bees decided that was MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Crawl on my arms, hang out in my hair, that’s fine, but they were going for the eyes and that was not fine by any stretch of the imagination.

In any case, I returned home sopping wet, and there were (miraculously) no casualties. B, glad to work off her fidgets, was a right little snot all the way through, busily trying to herd me in every direction except the one I wanted to go. She keeps thinking she has a vote in our route.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anyway, she’s sacked out in the hall, napping the nap of the fully justified, and in a little while I’ll roust both her and Trundles for his afternoon constitutional. He also gets an epsom-salt paw soak and I am kicking around the idea of bandaging said paw with a clean white sock and tons of antibiotic cream.

I’m sure that will go over well.

In any case, now that preorders are well underway, I can turn my attention back to HOOD and Harmony. And oh look–are those edits in my inbox? No rest for the weary or the wicked, and the birds are storm-flittering outside as if the weather’s going to give us another round. Plus, a couple squirrels seem to have taken up residence in the apple tree outside the dining room window.

I’m sure that will end well…

Engagement, Choice

Caesar continues to delight me.1 This time it’s a wonderfully brief sentence, still in the battle near Bibrax.

Acriter in eo loco pugnatum est. The Gallic War, Loeb Classical, p. 102

Edwards translates it as “Fierce was the engagement fought there.” Acriter, which is of course has descended to acrimony from its root which means “pungent,” but in adverb form is “fiercely, strongly.” Then the one-two-three punch of in eo loco2 and the hinge of the sentence, pugnatum, from whence we get pugnacious. To sum it all up, the lovely est, bringing a consonant and the Latin habit of making you wait for the very last breath of the sentence for emphasis.

Part of the joy is the translation, too, keeping some of the rhythm but sadly losing that punch at the end. Fierce was the battle fought there is how I’d have done it, but I think Edwards chose “engagement” because this is just one small part of the ongoing battle at Bibrax, which Caesar has been telling as a whole. I can’t argue with the translation, but I did stop and think “battle would be more poetic, wouldn’t it?”

Of such choices are translation made.

Butterfly, Snow

I love butterfly bushes, especially the ones with deep-purple, almost black flowers. I had to move this one to a slope where it would get more sun, and I’m glad I did. I had a bad turn when the temperature plummeted, until I looked them up and realized they are, in fact, evergreens.

When the snow came, it decked the leaves in melting glitter, now mostly gone. It’s beautiful just the same. And spring is coming.

Love in Baking

When you’ve had a rough week, and your no-longer-a-teenager-this-year child knows it and uses her day off to clean the kitchen and make a pesto braid, because she wanted to try the recipe and she knows you love pesto…

…yeah, like that. Every bite was love.

I love my kids.