Mirage of Simmer

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:19 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Well, it never rains but it pours. I just got back from Readercon and post-Readercon visiting last night around midnight. I was going to blog about the con, but just before I planned to call my mother, I got a call from the Duchess to say she was on her way over to take my mother to the ER. Apparently Mother felt short of breath this morning. She told the helper that she didn't feel good, and the helper offered to take her immediately to the ER. Which is what should have happened! However, Mother is wily and talked the helper into letting her take a little nap to see if she would feel better. They checked up on her frequently throughout the day, but they didn't take her to the ER. So, then as evening approached, she naturally started feeling a bit apprehensive, and called the Duchess, who was not going to take no for an answer. She immediately took Mother to the hospital. So far, her EKG is normal, and one blood test has come back with no indications of a recent heart attack. They have to stay at the hospital for two more hours so another test can be done. Then she'll stay overnight for observation, either in the ER near her residence, where she is now, or in the larger hospital in the next town if necessary. It would have been much better if she had called the Duchess earlier. Trying "not to make trouble" for anyone usually ends up making more trouble!

So I've spent my time this evening getting texts and making phone calls. I let Queenie know what was going on. She has a bleeding ulcer and is anemic as a result. Her husband, the Fireman, is having his gall bladder problems assessed and will be meeting with the doctor tomorrow to find out what should be done about them. Oh, and there was a storm in Wisconsin where their daughter, the Former Naval Person, lives, and a tree fell in her back yard and crushed her motorcycle. Oy!!

I had a good time at the con, but further discussion will have to wait, alas. I'm not too worried about my mother, because I think there's very little chance that she's having heart problems. Something seems to be wrong, but I don't think it is anything drastic at this point. If anything, it's a relief that she will be admitted for observation so they can figure it out.

First day of Readercon

Jul. 14th, 2017 12:45 am
[personal profile] ismo
My good friend the Nonesuch kindly drove me from his place to Quincy, and I'm happily installed at Readercon. I immediately saw several friends, which is my favorite thing. I was so happy to see them all again. We ate dinner in shifts as more people appeared and sat down, and then most of us went off to do 8 pm panels. I thought the one I was on went pretty well, and I was pleased with it. I took a break to call the Sparrowhawk, and then went back downstairs to socialize some more. Tomorrow is my biggest day, with two more panels and a reading. If I get through that all right, I will be happy.

WaspSting of Zenith

Jul. 10th, 2017 08:58 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Packing for Readercon! Packing brings out my anxiety. I'm leaving home! What if I don't bring the stuff I need?? What if I forget something important . . . . What if I bring EVERYTHING on the list, and then my bag is too heavy to carry! It always seems too heavy, anyway, by the time I schlep it from one side of the airport to the other. I've been traumatized by too many weather systems on my way home from Readercon. On the most memorable occasion, lightning struck the runway minutes before I planned to depart, shutting down the whole place for a couple of hours and making everyone miss their connections. Last year was the debacle with United Airlines. I think I'm due for a calm, pleasant trip. I will certainly do everything in MY power to have one.

And then there's the usual piteous cry of "I'm not ready!" Because I'm not. I'm leaving many things undone, plus I'm not half as ready for my panels as I wish I were. Speaking of Readercon panels, here are mine, just in case anyone is going. Aside from the anxiety, I'm looking forward to them, because there are all kinds of smart, great people on them, and I know the ideas will be so interesting and fun.

Thursday July 07
8:00 PM C Secretly About Writing: Books That Are Not Obviously About Writing Books. Erik Amundsen, Gillian Daniels (moderator), Chandler Klang Smith, Cecilia Tan, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. In a 2013 Twitter conversation, James Francis Flynn wrote, "Lots of great movies are secretly about what it's like making movies. Trick is to hide it well." Books about writing books are usually pretty unsubtle—we're looking at you, Stephen King—but presumably some more subtly metaphorical novels are out there, including certain books in our genres. Is Dune really about the arid publishing landscape? Did Lovecraft's eldritch horrors begin as rejection letters? Our panelists will discuss works that they know (or guess) to be about writing, or possibly attempt to portray every single book as being secretly about writing.

Friday July 08
12:00 PM BH Sorting in Young Adult Literature. Steve Berman, Tom Greene, Lauren Roy, Tui Sutherland, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Young people in YA fiction (usually but not always dystopian fiction) are encouraged, born, or forced into identity-establishing groups, from childhood and sometimes from birth: factions in Divergent, houses in Hogwarts, and districts in Panem. Teen readers of these books are beginning to figure out who they are while being told that the decisions they make now will last forever. How do different works handle the tensions between choice and societal dictation, and between individual identity and group identity? What are the authors trying to say about these different aspects of finding one's self both within and separate from community? What makes a sorting scheme work for the reader rather than feeling wholly artificial and implausible?

2:00 PM A Reading: Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Ann Tonsor Zeddies reads a section from "Angel Bait," a newly completed unpublished fantasy novel.

6:00 PM BH Higher, Higher: Flight in Fiction. Susan Bigelow, Andy Duncan, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. From Greek myths to superheroes, humans have been captivated by the dream of flight. What about the concept is so appealing? Why has it appeared time and time again in science fiction and fantasy genres? Panelists will discuss how recent fiction has revisited the human obsession with flight, and where it might go next.

Saturday July 09
10:00 AM 5 Settlement Strategies: Adjust, Adapt, or Mutate. Susan Matthews (leader), Paul McAuley, Cameron Roberson, Eric Schaller, Ann Tonsor Zeddies. Space is a harsh environment for living creatures, and most known planets are little better. Adapting to life off of Earth could well involve much more than improved technology. What new technologies are being considered for space travel and habitation? If we can't terraform a planet to our needs, could we instead engineer humans to suit the planet? And if we start altering ourselves, how would that affect life on Earth?

SteppeMice of Zenith

Jul. 8th, 2017 10:37 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Another beautiful day . . . . I woke up and was about to jump out of bed, when I noticed a strange feeling of relaxation stealing over me. It occurred to me that maybe I could go back to sleep! So I did. I felt as if I had slept and slept for a long long time, but my Fitbit says it was just over 7 hours. So even when I sleep late in my own estimation, it's not even 8 hours! People in books sleep for 10 hours or even more! Why can't I do that? I don't know. But I suppose every little bit extra is a step in the right direction.

We went to the Farmers Market for the first time in ages. We stocked up on meat from the organic farm ladies, who were touchingly glad to see us--and not just because we buy lots of bacon. We also got all kinds of nice vegetables and things. Today, the Philosopher was in Ann Arbor to get some of his things out of storage, because he is moving from a furnished apartment to an unfurnished one. He planned to spend the night here on his way home. We cooked him a delicious dinner--if I do say so myself--of grilled steak, grilled peppers, new potatoes with dill sauce, tomatoes with basil, maitake and oyster mushrooms, and steamed baby squash. He took a little extra time to stop and visit Grandmother, and arrived about 8, just in time for dinner.

Sadly, it's our turn to run the church service tomorrow. Grrr. I hope the Philosopher will sleep in, because I will be really mad if my son is up and around and I'm in stoopid church. However, he plans to take it easy and stay until after lunch, so we'll see more of him tomorrow. And the church service is based around the poetry of Hafiz, which our friend Cindy has just discovered, and our friend Keith's interest in evolution. You'd think the two wouldn't go together, but that's where the GENIUS of our conception comes into it. It will be fun for however many people show up. If they have any sense they'll be out at the lake. I'm really not a very good Unitarian . . . .

SandDune of Zenith

Jul. 7th, 2017 10:23 pm
[personal profile] ismo
Not in a good mood today, for a variety of reasons. Five things make a post! Five things also make a foul humor! So I'm not going to subject you to that. I will say, though, that a couple of days ago, I commented to the Sparrowhawk that as much as I try to be calm and Zen-like, there are times when I imagine just shooting my arm out and grabbing someone by the throat and throttling them. And I feel a lot of satisfaction at this thought, even while I'm chanting to myself, "Go to your happy place! Go to your happy place!" So it was pretty funny when we were watching "North Dallas Forty," and Jo Bob shoots out one arm and grabs Phil Elliott by the throat and throttles him. And I grabbed the Sparrowhawk by the shoulder and yelled, "See? SEE THAT? That's exactly what I'm talkin' about!" Jo Bob is a reprehensible character, and it's good that they eventually force him to let go of poor Phil in the movie. But I still sympathized a lot with Jo Bob at that moment.

Today I spent more time than I really wanted to dealing with A Door. In my parents' old house, there was a door to the attic. It opened out of the dinky room that I shared with my two sisters. On the back of the door, there was a hook, and this served as my closet. I hung all the clothes I owned on the hook, because that was what there was to hang them on. I only had five outfits, anyway--just enough to get me through one complete week of school. I used to beg my parents to let me sleep in the attic, but they wouldn't. It was true that it was too hot in the summer. It was also too cold in the winter, but that didn't bother me, because blankets. Also in "Little House on the Prairie," they used to get up and have to break the ice on the washbasin to wash up in the morning, so I figured it couldn't be any worse than that. However, I still wasn't allowed to live in the attic. The key to the attic door hung on a hook beside The Door, and The Door was kept locked because my sisters were scared that something might come down the attic stairs and get them!

The other significant thing about this door is that when we were all grown up, my parents used it to measure the growth of the grandchildren. Every time one of the kids visited them, they would ceremonially mark the child's height on The Door and note their initials and the date. The Door became a historical artifact, and the kids would go up there and look at it and compare to each other. When my brother and I finished packing up everything from the old house, we both considered taking The Door with us. But we were trying to sell the house at that time, and removing one of the doors didn't seem like a good idea. I think we were just too tired to take on the task of trying to find a replacement. I said goodbye to The Door a long time ago, and I had assumed it was painted over by now.

But NO! Today I got a call from my father's former student who is researching a possible book about him. He had been in town and drove past the old place, and noticed that it was having the bejesus renovated out of it and was all torn up for rebuilding. Being a fellow with plenty of nerve, he got out and talked to the contractor, and got a tour of the project. And behold, he saw THE DOOR, which was still there but which will finally be removed at some point. So he called to tell me this. I don't actually want The Door, but since I knew that Mr. Science would be visiting my mother on Sunday, I thought I might as well let him know it was available. And he texted me back and said he wants it and will pick it up if someone can save it until Sunday. By this time, Mr. Former Student had left the building, so I couldn't get him to do it.

Racking my brains, I called my dear ever-faithful friend Deb, who lives not too far from my old neighborhood, and asked if she could possibly go over to Morton St. and ask the contractor to save The Door for my brother. She could not take it away with her, because it won't fit in her car. She did try--but at that point, the contractor had left the building as well. She's going to have another go at it tomorrow. And in the meantime I was busy texting Former Student and Mr. Science to keep them apprised. Mr. Science says he will go there on Sunday come what may and obtain The Door. Deb says the dumpster isn't full, so chances are The Door will not be going anywhere until it is.

I don't know whether I'm mourning the old house (AGAIN?!) or whether I'm relieved. In truth, I kind of like the idea that it will be reshaped and renewed, with fresh paint, sturdy new walls and big new windows, and lots of space for new people to live there. Poor old house! It needed help for many years. It was battered and dingy. With new light and air moving through it, perhaps its spirits will finally be exorcised, and it will stop haunting us the way it does. But meanwhile, I've just spent ANOTHER afternoon tending to the artifacts of a history that clings to my boot like a pit bull with lockjaw. Down, I say, DOWN! Drop it!! Don't make me go all Jo Bob on you. . . .


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April 2017


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