Got it along with some other supplies because I really need to try and make a cast-on comb for my knitting machine. The weighted hem that comes with my machine is terribly crappy and has finally disintegrated to the point where I'm spending way too much time on repairs and the repairs are getting less and less effective. Hoping my DIY cast-on comb will work better.
Still feeling a bit under the weather, like we may be on the border of getting sick, but not totally sure what's up. I don't think us feeling under the weather yesterday was from too much exercise. Just generally feeling brain fogged and achey and like our head is a bit congested. No fever though. Weird. Was really dizzy yesterday but at least that seems to have mostly passed. Wonder if it has anything to do with the weather getting warmer, we are not always that great at the transition to summer. Trying to drink lots of water.
Got some etsy stuff done yesterday but were too sluggish to get the Saturday Haturday update ready in time, need to get that done today, have 9 hats ready to post.
( Also some Pokemon nerd stuff. )
Italics taken from the blurbs. Gothics have the best blurbs.
Castle Barebane, by Joan Aiken. A series of lurid murders... a roofless ruin with crumbling battlements... nephew and niece callously abandoned in a slum... a man of mysterious origins and enigmatic habits... dark emanations from London's underworld... Mungo, an old sailor...
The Five-Minute Marriage, by Joan Aiken. An imposter has claimed her inheritance... a counterfeit marriage to the principle heir, her cousin... family rivalries festering for generations... a shocking episode of Cartaret family history will be repeated.
The Weeping Ash, by Joan Aiken. Sixteen-year-old Fanny Paget, newly married to the odious Captain Paget... in northern India, Scylla and Calormen Paget, twin cousins of the hateful Captain, have begun a seemingly impossible flight for their lives, pursued by a vengeful maharaja... elephant, camel, horse, raft... The writer has used her own two-hundred-year-old house in Sussex, England for the setting.
Winterwood, by Dorothy Eden. The moldering elegance of a decaying Venetian palazzo... pursued by memories of the scandalous trial that rocked London society... their daughter, Flora, crippled by a tragic accident... Charlotte's evil scheming... a series of letters in the deceased Lady Tameson's hand
The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall. A demon-haunted house... two beautiful young sisters... the pain of a recent tragedy... a sinister and hateful force from the past... by the author of Hedgerow.
Shadow of the Past, by Daoma Winston. An unseen presence... fled to Devil's Dunes... strange "accidents..." it seemed insane... the threads of the mysterious, menacing net cast over her life... What invisible hand threatened destruction?
Twelve-year-old Lucy returns to the small English village of Hagworthy, which she hasn’t visited since she was seven. There she stays with her aunt, reconnects with some childhood friends and finds that both she and they have changed, and looks on in growing alarm as the well-meaning but ignorant new vicar resurrects the ancient tradition of the Horn Dance, which is connected to the Wild Hunt.
The premise plus the opening sentences probably tell you everything you need to know about the book:
The train had stopped in a cutting, so steep that Lucy, staring through the window, could see the grassy slopes beyond captured in intense detail only a yard or two away: flowers, insects, patches of vivid red earth. She became intimate with this miniature landscape, alone with it in a sudden silence, and then the train jolted, oozed steam from somewhere beneath, and moved on between shoulders of Somerset hillside.
This is one of my favorite genres which sadly does not seem to exist any more, the subset of British children’s fantasy, usually set in small towns or villages, which focuses on atmosphere, beautiful prose, and capturing delicate moments in time. Character is secondary, plot is tertiary, and there may be very little action (though some have a lot); the magical aspects are often connected to folklore or ancient traditions, and may be subtle or questionable until the end.
You can see all those elements in those two sentences I quoted; the entire subgenre consists of inviting the reader to become intimate with minature landscapes.
This is obviously subjective and debatable, but I think of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper (especially Greenwitch), and Robert Westall as writers with books in this subgenre, but not Diana Wynne Jones. The settings are the sort parodied in Cold Comfort Farm. Hagworthy is full of darkly muttering villagers who kept making me think, “Beware, Robert Poste’s child!”
In The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, Lucy’s parents are divorced, and her mother is now living in another country with a baby brother Lucy has never met. This is mentioned maybe two or three times, very briefly, which is interesting because so many books would make a much bigger deal of it. Lucy returns to Hagworthy for a vacation with her aunt, a botanist.
Of her childhood friends, the two girls have become horse-mad and have nothing in common with Lucy. The boy, Kester, is now a moody misfit teenager, and Lucy, who is also a bit of a moody misfit, becomes friends with him all over again. They wander around the countryside, fossil-hunting and stag-watching, periodically getting in fights over Kester’s refusal to discuss the thing hanging over the story, which is the new vicar’s revival of the Horn Dance to fundraise at a fete. This is very obviously going to awaken the Wild Hunt, and Kester has clearly been mystically targeted as its victim. Though there is a ton of dark muttering about what a bad idea this is, no one does anything about this until nearly the end, when Lucy finally makes first a misfired attempt to stop the Horn Dance, then a successful one to save Kester.
The atmosphere and prose is lovely, and if you like that sort of thing, you will like this book. Even for a book that isn’t really about the plot, the plot had problems. One was the total failure of any adult to even try to do anything sensible ever, for absolutely no reason, until Lucy finally manages to ask the right person the right question. This could have been explained as some magical thing preventing them from acting, but it wasn’t.
The other problem I had was that nothing unpredictable ever happens. Everyone is exactly what they seem: the blacksmith has mystical knowledge, the vicar is an innocent in over his head, the horse-mad girls have nothing in their heads but horses, and so forth. I kept expecting something to be slightly less obvious—for the vicar to know exactly what he’s doing and have a nefarious purpose, for the horse-mad girls to not be as dumb as they seem or to have their horsey skills play a role in saving Kester, for Lucy’s aunt to know more about magic than the blacksmith, etc—but no.
I looked up Penelope Lively. It looks like her famous book is Ghost of Thomas Kempe, which I think I also own.
There’s an album of music based on the book which you can listen to online. It’s by the Heartwood Institute, and is instrumental and atmospheric.
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy
But I had a really cool dream last night! Or kind of cool, some of it was weird. I was in this place that was maybe more south, like it was really hot out and there were a lot of different plants and also beaches. I was at this place with a lot of long walking trails and cool greenhouse buildings just walking and checking everything out, also there were a lot of other robots there? I was trying to figure out what this place even was, it was kind of awkward I was walking through one of the buildings and there was this guy in a lab coat with some other people walking with him and I overheard him say "Android is my favorite word!" And I was just kind of like WTF? But then I got distracted because the place had all these walkways with wooden railings and vines all over them, and I saw a USB outlet on one of the vines and I was like what, and I looked closer and it turned out all the vines were actually like extension cords? Like they were all robot plants basically, and the leaves were solar panels that just looked like leaves, and I guess they were all powering the place with solar energy and that was basically the coolest damn thing I'd ever seen and I wanted some of these plant cord vine things so bad. Then I woke up.
I actually just googled it like is there such thing as an extension cord that looks like a plant vine because I really would totally want something like that IRL and I found this kickstarter but it failed and there's a link to a website but you can't get it yet. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/
OMG ok speaking of plant things I just turned on my ipad and it was still on this thing that confused me so bad last night. I got into bed early and was falling asleep and suddenly my ipad does an alarm, at midnight, and I'm like what the hell I do not have any alarms that go off at midnight. And I looked at it and it was an alarm saying "Purple Plant Day! We got the Moses-In-A-Boat and Persian Shield this day, will we get another purple plant???". XD OBVIOUSLY I MADE THIS ALARM FOR MYSELF A YEAR AGO because for some reason I thought this was important. I think it was something like I accidentally got two purple plants on this day a year apart and Facebook memories reminded me of it or something and I thought that was cool so I decided May 27 is official Purple Plant Day and it's worth setting an alarm AT MIDNIGHT for??? The Persian Shield plant died a long time back which was sad but I've still got the Moses-In-A-Boat which is the best plant name I've ever heard and it's still purple and still going. Happy anniversary to Moses-In-A-Boat. But no I'm not going out and getting more purple plants today I don't have room for new plants right now I still need to get a plant pot for my new Phil who is growing roots and then I'm REALLY not going to have more room. I'm not going to delete this alarm though it can confuse me at midnight again in a year from now.
How to play: Fling means I spend a single night of passion (or possibly passionate hatred) with the book, and write a review of it, or however much of it I managed to read. Marry means the book goes back on my shelves, to wait for me to get around to it. (That could be a very long time.) Kill means I should donate it without attempting to read it. You don't have to have read or previously heard of the books to vote on them.
Please feel free to explain your reasoning for your votes in comments. For this particular poll, I have never read anything by any of the authors (or if I did, I don't remember it) and except for Hoover and Lively, have never even heard of the authors other than that at some point I apparently thought their book sounded interesting enough to acquire.
The Spring on the Mountain, by Judy Allen. Three kids have magical, possibly Arthurian adventures on a week in the country.
The Lost Star, by H. M. Hoover. A girl who lives on another planet hears an underground cry for help (and finds chubby gray cat centaurs if the cover is accurate)
The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, by Penelope Lively. Lucy visits her aunt in Hagworthy and is embroiled in the ancient Horn Dance and Wild Hunt.
Carabas, by Sophie Masson. Looks like a medieval setting. A shapeshifting girl gets accused of being a witch and runs off with the miller's son.
Of Two Minds, by Carol Mates and Perry Nodelman. Princess Lenora can makes what she imagines real; Prince Coren can read minds, but everyone can read his mind. (Ouch!)
Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel – Wilda C Gafney. I liked this! It is so unbelievably refreshing to read scholarship by someone who doesn't just take it as given that the past was a uniformly patriarchal hellscape. Suffered slightly from a lack of nuanced discussion of dating of the Biblical passages it was discussing, but the background in terms of the author's familiarity with archaeology and general Near Eastern history was good enough that it didn't bother me too much because she backed up things with non-Biblical contemporary evidence whenever she could. A couple of her conclusions I'd like to see discussed by someone with a good knowledge of Biblical Hebrew, though, also suffers from imo deeply unnecessary “and this is how this applies to modern Christianity” in places. I will be following up on the stuff about female scribes.
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent – Marie Brennan. I have owned this for years and never got around to actually reading it. Protagonist is a Victorian lady who becomes a dragon naturalist; this is the first book in the series. Overall a fun book, I think anyone with a deep drive for scholarship will find the protagonist sympathetic and the plot problems fairly interesting. Some fairly major worldbuilding flaws that kept distracting me, though. It's set in an alternate history with primarily cultural divergence, and the culture is nowhere near diverged enough, it's basically renamed!England which is a really big problem because a) I got the feeling the author did this just so she didn't have to be totally accurate with all of the non-England countries and b) the cultural divergence is that supposedly Europe is Jewish instead of Christian and there is NO. FUCKING. WAY. That would precisely produce the exact social conditions and problems of Victorian England, I mean, WTF??? Like yes, there would be problems, but different ones. Also if usable iron was actually really scarce all of history post the Bronze Age Collapse would be deeply, wildly different and the chances of the colonial era happening as it did in our world are nil. But if those things will not make you want to pitch the book against the wall you'll probably enjoy it; I did despite the desire.
Man, that was a paragraph.
The Tree & Other Stories – Abdallah al-Nasser, translated by Dina Bosio and Christopher Tingley. Very short stories by a Saudi author. This is probably the first book I have ever felt totally unqualified to review, mostly because as far as I can tell every single one of these stories was set up to have a punchline and I got maybe two of them. I think this is the translators' faults; ideally, footnotes in translated literature are for explaining that sort of culturally-specific joke, not for unnecessarily explaining what terms for clothing in Arabic mean. So, uh, the prose was interesting, I did not find the plots compelling except for this one particular story, which is spoiled by the intro so I think I'm okay telling you the point is an ironic one about Western culture's disrespect of elders. I found it deeply, compellingly horrifying and accurate and I also hated it intensely so I don't know what to tell you.
Dead and Buried – Barbara Hambly. Another book in the Benjamin January series. I continue to love this series – I love the setting and cultural bits, I love the characters and their relationships, and – new in this one – I also love the plot, which seems to have captured exactly the right points of compelling-yet-hilariously-
The Stars Change – Mary Anne Mohanraj. I wanted to like this book, because I liked the short stories I've read by the author and I also read her blog, but alas, I was unable to. There are brief points of brilliance – exasperated closeted lesbian asks her husband what he thought would happen when he cheated on her, relieved to have an excuse to walk out the door; many pieces of the worldbuilding, which is obviously Mohanraj's actual strength and interest; the moment when the community comes together to deal with a mortal threat and immediately begins to cook as step one. However, the prose is wildly uneven, I found many of the characters unlikable, the sex scenes were deeply unnecessary and uncompellingly to wincingly badly-written, and the plot makes no sense. It reads like a series of one shots of varying quality badly stitched together. In particular the ending failed to convince me; there was no reason for all of those people to be there to get killed, and the fact that they could have been needed is not sufficient in a novel where the author decided to put them there for no purpose. I thought it was a first novel until I checked the author's bibliography, at which point I was just confused.
Ran Away – Same series as above. I found this one particularly interesting because of the very long flashback section in which we meet Ayasha directly, Benjamin's deceased wife. I loved her instantly, and I think that view made Benjamin's renewed grief at being reminded of her freshly all the more compelling – it's really impressive, honestly, I knew she was dead from the first chapter of book one and yet I was still hit by it all over again in this one. That said, the portrayal of Islam here is... eeeeh. On the one hand, the Ottomans in particular were so screwed up I am not sure any of it was really wrong for that place and time; on the other hand it would have been nice to be clearer about the parts that were the special, Ottoman interpretation of Islam, particularly since Ayasha is from North Africa and would know. There were ways in which Turkish Islam was both better and worse than European Christianity for women in this period and it would have been nice to see the parts that were better. I think I would have liked it better if Ayasha was still actively Muslim, I don't think it would be a legal barrier to marrying Benjamin in France in this period if she hadn't converted, and if it was her conversion could at least have been in name only.
The Burning City – Alaya Dawn Johnson. The sequel to Racing the Dark, but new readers should know the series is on indefinite/permanent hiatus after this one. I enjoyed this one, and I think it improves on the first in plot complexity and worldbuilding, as well as in prose. The plot increases in complexity and got a lot more interesting to me and the intermixing of mythology with magic and life also becomes more nuanced here. I continue to really love Lana, the relationship with her father was painfully awkward, I really loved the bisexual threesome in the Black Book's plot thread and I think the book does an overall better job with disability representation than the first one, which was decidedly mixed. That said, I also wish the megalomaniac dictator was not violent because, essentially, he hears voices; like, given the worldbuilding I'm absolutely sure it's not psychosis, it's literally a spirit appearing to him masquerading as his dead sister, but it would be nice if it did not come off as psychosis to all of the characters? I am very curious about how Johnson would have tied up the increasingly complicated plot threads, and disappointed I probably won't find out. Also, just, points for high fantasy set in the Pacific Islands and all of the stuff you don't often see in high fantasy, like, government that isn't a misunderstood version of feudalism, civil war fought in a city, etc.
You can see my Ryder a bit at the end of the video too. But the audio is fucked and it's mostly me talking to a friend in the twitch chat trying to figure out what the hell I was doing wrong with the audio.
But I went back in to Borderlands to actually fight the Sentinel solo and get a video of it with the audio because it's not Claptrap fighting unless he's actually talking. :P Here's me soloing the Sentinel as Claptrap, and it worked I'm actually really tired now geez. I get less talky in this one a little and play a little more sloppy with less critical hits and stuff compared to the other video because I was getting tired and realizing hey the Sentinel can't really actually do that much to me because it's not scaling to my level. XP I didn't even get a single Fight For Your Life. This is the worst raid boss. Come on, fight me better. It was still fun though. And I got the game audio working. I should maybe turn up my mic more next time, I don't know. I'll try and stream some Mass Effect sometime next right now I'm actually tired which is great, I'm going to go to bed.
Here's the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii-
I STILL WANT TO TRY AND SOLO THE RAID BOSS to get mentally tired. I'm going in as a level 33 Claptrap and I'm streaming it.
If anybody who plays Borderlands the Pre-Sequel wants to save me from myself and doesn't mind being in the stream, come join me! If not, watch me probably die a lot!!!
Spoiler warning for Borderlands the Pre-Sequel if you don't want to know what the thing guarding the vault is, don't watch.
It'll probably take me a sec to get it started I haven't tried streaming in a long time.
EDIT: Killed the boss with Demons, playing Mass Effect now!
EDIT: It's not getting the sound from Mass Effect, updating my streaming software thingy.
EDIT again: Oh dang it looks like it actually wasn't getting the sound from anything but my microphone, weird. Obviously this means I need to update my software then FIGHT THE BOSS AGAIN ON MY OWN.
EDIT again: Here's the video of the first bit. Me and Demons fighting the raid boss. Also dang I figured it out, the audio was working but I accidentally fucked it up messing around with some settings because I thought it was echoing. D: So yeah I accidentally got rid of the game audio on the recording and didn't notice. So uhh all the audio is the lovely sound of me talking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
( Read more... )
Garden plot, and things sprouting and growing.
People who stop to help strangers.
Guinea pig cuddle-squeaks.
Sunlight and finally being warm enough.
Access to water in some situations where it could've easily been unavailable.
... State of the me: still very stressed and exhausted, but hanging in there; good things help. And so do you; thanks for reading.
So I've been preparing to hunt shiny Cofagrigus in Pokemon Moon, but first decided to go back to Omega Ruby version for a bit to do some breeding for competitive Cofagrigus with good movesets, since unfortunately a lot of the really good moves for them are Move Tutor moves that aren't currently available in the current generation of games, and you can't transfer your Pokemon backwards to older games to learn them, only forwards. Then I was planning to take my competitive Cofagrigus from Omega Ruby, transfer them over to Moon, and start shiny breeding.
Just got home from work and hatched a couple eggs, and uhh, wait WTF that Yamask that just hatched had yellow eyes, didn't it??
...I just hatched a shiny Yamask in Omega Ruby at the full odds. No shiny charm or anything.
EDIT: Also Yamask is a horrifying Pokemon, and this all means that in the Pokemon world, I have now successfully bred the souls of the dead until one sparkled. Go me?
In today's stream of Atelier Ayesha Plus, we made it from our tiny cottage in a meadow all the way to the big city, where we hope to find out more about the mysterious flower that blooms where our sister disappeared.
Along the way, we met some ... interesting characters!
At 10 PM Eastern on Sunday we're returning to Fate/EXTELLA, to discuss a previous cutscene before continuing Altera's route. This will contain major spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen the rest of the game, so you may wish to review a Let's Play or the archives before tuning in.
The doctor had a resident with her again, and she explained everything she was doing. I think the combination of that and the fact that I had a vasovagal reaction last time, made me a little nervous. But I did OK and only had to lay there for a couple of minutes before I could get up and go. The whole thing was fast and pretty easy. I felt sort of euphoric; my pain lowered dramatically and it was easier to breathe. The resident said that my case was the most interesting one of the day.
I am waiting for the headache to come, the one that follows after the nerve block. My mouth hurts but so far, no terrible headache. I think it's just on the edge though. I bought a bunch of popsicles and plan to keep eating them.
We've been having a lot of fun streaming Fate/EXTELLA over on our Twitch channel. It's silly, funny, and extremely gay, in the "girls doing it with other girls" sense. But it's also very dramatic, and on our first playthrough it made us cry so hard. For all these reasons, it is our favourite game ever.
But not everyone likes tears and shock. Frankly, not everyone can take it, especially with everything that's going on right now.
With that in mind, starting this Saturday evening at 10 PM Eastern we're going to stream a much fluffier and more soothing game: Atelier Ayesha Plus, the improved version of the first game in the Dusk trilogy.
Must hop out of bed to share nerd achievement with world.
I wasn't even trying for a shiny Spiritomb, I got lucky. o_O This was only after 40 eggs hatched. Odds were 1 in 455.
And she's got the hidden ability and near-perfect stats that can be patched up just fine with hyper training.
I need to think of a name for her that is not "Holy Cow".
Spiritomb is the "Forbidden Pokemon". It's an evil ghost haunting a rock. Maybe I'll name her Error 403. :P
Hahahahaha, this has backfired on me, hatching Pokemon eggs is usually very repetitive and calming, not something that surprises me and makes me hop out of bed in nerdy excitement. Still, I am in a good mood now. Shiny Spiritomb, yay!