Thursday, July 30, 2009

Safe at the war

At Pennsic, and briefly online, on Mark's dime. The heat is presently not too bad, and the rain is not presently falling, I had my cup of tea this morning, so much is well. Now I'm off to run what errands I can, with John the Artificer not yet open.
Mark has been sharing my happy agent news (I have an agent!) with our friends--I was told by one that he won't shut up about it.
I'll have to wait until it's my own dime (or free wifi) to be chatty.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

still not a travel blog

although this morning we're in South Bend, after a somewhat harrowing trip through driving rain from Chicago on the toll road, the unlit part, with (of course) construction closing lanes from time to time and lots of semis. The lane lines were often invisible under the rain, and Kristen was navigating by semi (ie there's one beside us, don't bang into it, there's one ahead of us, let's hope he can see the lane lines).
First night we reached Butte, second night Fargo--or to be more precise, the Anaconda rest area and the Moorhead rest area. I stared at the mineral samples at Anaconda, and remembered researching the mine just recently for the rewrites of Chimp/Transmontane. Also my painter-self kicked in, exclaiming 'ooh, azurite and malachite! Realgar! ooh!'
We hit a proper rain of tiny bugs in North Dakota, so thick it sounded like rain. Only the pressure-wash effect of semi-spray last night finally got most of it off. This is a big van, too, so short people like me have to lean over the hood to clean windshields, coming away with a fine coating of dried bug on one's shirt. Fortunately the first station we stopped at had long-handled squeegies.
Western Washington was hot hot hot. Montana was rainy. Surely this is a reversal of the natural order?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Olympia this morning

Is still cool, but promising to be hot once the sun is properly up. I slept with a sheet only, plus occasional cat, after pathetically conking out while Kristen was still loading up the van. It's a big van, with truck plates, and it will be interesting to see how it handles after I've been used to our zippy little Sienna.

Going through Customs--no, I should say going through Immigration--was stressful. I kind of understand how Customs works, because they want to know what you're bringing so they can collect duty on it. But I can't work out what Immigration wants, other than for everyone to bloody well stay home, and with the two services supposedly unified, I don't know which kind of question I'm being asked. And many of those questions seem to involve what I would consider my personal life. Like, why am I driving to Pennsylvania while my husband flies? How do I know the friend that I'm driving with? Surely I work in my husband's business?
Is it that strange to have friends from across the US border? To not be my husband's chattel?
Oh well, done now, and can look forward to the trip and driving. Kristen's doing a photo essay, so we'll stop fairly often for pics, but I don't expect I'll be posting any while in transit, even though I have a camera, not to mention the webcam on the EEE.

I used to wonder if I'd show up on some list or other because of having gone to Seattle for the WTO protests, but so far there's been no sign of that, only the 'Im in ur nashun steelin ur jobz' deal. Maybe it would be different if I'd been arrested then?

So. I'm not expecting to do a travelblog, given the spottiness of online access for the next while plus I Am Revising Willow Knot Like, A Lot This Month And Should Not Go Online Until Maybe Worldcon.
I squeaked into one of the workshop sessions for Worldcon, with the longer Bluebeard story. It's still pretty raw, but I couldn't tell from the info whether admission was juried at all, or just first-come first-served.

My belongings may be packed, but my thoughts, clearly, are strewn across the room in all disorder. So I'll sign off now and see if I can bundle them up in a sheet or something.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a sense of calm urgency

Is what we're supposed to employ as we evacuate the Library, should evacuating the Library be called for. It's the first item on the emergency list recently sent around.
And it's what I need presently, since I will be leaving on the 25th for the Pennsic War, followed by Worldcon in Montreal. It's not so much the prep for the trip itself, it's the multitude of things that suddenly needed doing before I leave.
* dental app't
* subsequent repair of old filling
* optometrist app't
* subsequent choosing and fitting of new glasses
* subsequent adjusting of me to new glasses
* regular blood test
* vet app't for cat
* weeding in front yard
* processing the first batch of Transparent apples
* pastry for pie to be frozen
* writing up notes for house-sitting
* finishing reshuffling of scenes for Willow Knot

And last-minute additions to packing:
* sewing up new shift for hot weather
* sewing up new kirtle for same
* finding wool to trade for sewing of nicer kirtle
* oranges (or lemons? must choose) watercolour
* next thing that I haven't thought of yet (repeat)

One major worry is taken off my mind by the arrival of my friend and apprentice Judy to house-and-cat-sit. Priss has been uncommonly clingy and whiney since I was away at Fort Rodd Hill, and I tremble to think what a horror she'd be after 3 weeks without regular company. Not to mention the gardens going unwatered and the apples falling to rot.
Judy arrived Tuesday night and is already enthused about making rosepetal jelly and apple juice, so that is well. Hopefully she'll also have time to enjoy sitting in the garden and dropping in at the several coffee places nearby, and of course, reading.

I'll be on the road for a few days, and my online access until Worldcon will be spotty, so I expect this month will be fairly uncommunicative. I had hoped to do another roses post, but haven't found time. However, here's a picture of the Kazanlik in the front yard, which is about 8 ft tall and hardly ever produces flowers. This year I managed to catch one bloom while it still had petals. The blooms aren't showy, but they are smack-in-the-face perfumey, which unfortunately doesn't come across in a picture (or fortunately, given scent-sensitivities). Kazanlik is one of the attar-of-roses varieties, like the damask in the back yard.

And just in case you're sick of roses, here's a bundle of blueberries.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a week under canvas

The week of Canada Day saw us, as usual, camped out at Fort Rodd Hill, a medieval village under canvas. Fewer than last year, with the changed date of the Pennsic War making scheduling awkward, but still a lovely time away from the present.

Building the maze was the easiest it's ever been. Tess and Rowan, Effie, Brandy and Brianna did all the heavy work, bringing the barrows of stones over to a spot near the tents, and leaving only the layout to me. Even with that I had help from Brenda and passing children.
The system of laying out the maze is:
First, lay out 7 (or howevermany) rings of stones. The width of each passage should be a long stride (of mine - if you have longer legs, you'll have wider passages and more stones needed).
My trick is to make the innermost ring a comfortable size to stand in, take an apronful of stones, choose a direction, and pace out the next 6 rings, laying a small pile of stones at each stride. Do this for 4 quarters, then the eighths between.
The best way I've found of keeping the passages even is to work outwards from the innermost ring, walking backwards with one foot in each passage, and laying the stones as you go. Sort of like planting in furrows.
Once I had all 7 rings, Tess and Rowan were running around them as best they could, somewhat tricky when the rings don't join. As I marked off the switchbacks, they ran back and forth, and by the time I picked up the stones that had barred the entrance, the whole maze had been test-run.
I'm not using quite the classic Cretan labyrinth, because I find that one a bit boring. The design I've been using has several switchbacks to add challenge, but one long run around the outermost ring, where the young and active can get their speed up.

Tess and Rowan are 5 and old enough to stay overnight, which they insisted on whenever possible. Even sleeping with the chickens didn't deter them.

The chickens laid us an egg a day, though the 21-gun salute on Canada Day stopped eggs for some time, even though their box was covered with straw bolsters during the firing.

Here's our dining tent, the table laid for breaking one's fast. Bread and cheese, sausage, boiled eggs, apples, dried apples and prunes, butter, dripping, honey and jam. Water and small beer (which has less alcohol than ginger ale and is quite refreshing on a warm day).

Brandy and Brianna, with help from the small children, churned butter every day, and later in the week made cheese.

I tried a different layout for my atelier this year, since Mark wasn't going to be working in the other half of the tent, and I'd been finding it a bit crowded now that I've got more paintings stretched out.
The feathers are to cut quill pens from, and the little 3-legged pot has size-glue in it--gelatin made from soaking and simmering parchment scrapings and clippings. On the left corner of the tabletop is a slab and muller for grinding pigments, and a little jar of red ochre.

The weavers' village at the entrance to our camp is well established now, with two looms flanking the path, and people carding and combing wool as well as spinning with both drop-spindle and wheel.
This year Maria had her new baby with her, and yes, visitors did ask whether she was a real baby, as well as whether the chickens were real, and the perennial question of whether we were really going to eat that food.
Yes. Because it's very good food indeed.
And yes, we are sleeping here, on a good straw tick with a featherbed on top, and wool blankets.
And yes, it's a real fire. If you put your hand in, it will give you a real burn.

It was a good week. Takedown on Sunday was sad, even though it goes so much faster than setup.
Brenda and I took the straw ticks home to mulch for the gardens. Brandy, Brianna, Tess and Rowan picked up the stones from the labyrinth, leaving nothing but tracks worn into the grass.